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Max Sturgeon: “I wanted the viewers to feel the chaos”.

Max Sturgeon is a photographer and filmmaker who divides his time between Austin, Texas and Warsaw, Poland. He makes a living working on film and television projects in the United States, but in between jobs he travels the world focusing on his photography projects. Photography has become his passion to which he devotes all his free time and energy, and he has several ongoing projects that he continues to work on.
For his book “Of a Different Stripe”, published by Eyeshot, he travelled around India and Bangladesh on several trips. He wanted to capture the unique energy, people and places in those countries that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. He wanted to make a different book about the region than the more mainstream travel photographs that can be found about the area. In a land of countless Gods and languages, the streets are theatre, and the performances one of a kind. Exotic to even the most experienced traveller it is an assault on the senses: the noise, the smells, the vibrant colours, the seemingly never-ending crowds pushing against you. Chaotic beauty at its finest. In the shot included in the Black Edition of his book, Max managed to capture these elements with great readiness, resulting in an image that strikes us with its vivid colours, texture, and light. In this interview, we asked him a few questions in order to investigate his creative process and dig deeper into the factors that most attracted his attention and pushed him to click.

Max Sturgeon Fine Art

Tell us more about the Black Edition shot. When and where was it taken? What experience does it portray?

There are many ways to capture an image. Oftentimes I go to a place to try to get something specific. Or when you find a special place or the right light you wait for the photo to develop. In this case I was in Chittagong, Bangladesh. My friend and great local photographer Nayeem Siddiquee was taking me around to some of his favorite places. We both love to shoot around sunset so we were racing around as he was trying to show me some of his favorite spots in this magical light. We were on the way to a local bird market and walking the streets. I turned and saw this woman in red with this beautiful light and just snapped instantly with my flash. This photo developed/happened instantly. Once I saw the final product with the bright red and the woman next to her with this intense look I knew I had gotten a bit lucky and captured something nice.

Why did you decide to capture that precise moment? What drew you to it?

In this case I literally just turned and saw this and snapped instantly . It wasn’t something I even had time to think about but just pure instinct.

What do you like the most about that photograph?

This is my favorite type of image. A lot of street photography is a bit gimmicky or something you see very similar images of all over the internet. Don’t get me wrong I shoot those types of images as well. But my favorite images I capture are ones that are unique and striking. Something a bit cinematic. Maybe show some emotion. For me the striking color in this perfect light along with the look on the woman to the right make this image beautiful to me.

What camera and what lens did you use? What Diaphragm, shutter speed and ISO, and why?

Almost every photo in this book and most of my photos in general use the exact same equipment. A Fuji XT3 with the pancake 18mm (27mm equivalent) lens. I prefer a small light camera. Nothing too fancy. I shoot mostly with flash, either on or off camera. In this image it looks like the flash was held in my hand to the left of the frame as the light/shadow is not direct. As the light was getting low it was shooting at 1600. F11 (almost always at F11) and most likely zone focused in advance. While I often shoot slow shutter speed for the drag in this light this image was shot at 1/250.

 

This fantastic shot gives us a taste of the rest of the book “Of a Different Stripe” and hits our senses, taking us far away. We just have to start flipping through the other pages of the publication, to be catapulted into a chaotic world full of colour.

Max Sturgeon Black Edition 1