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Through A Glass Darkly : Mclean Stephenson

Written by Willie Newland on September 18, 2010

Making his exhibitionist debut at Moon Age in Surry Hills a few weeks ago, Mclean Stephenson displays an unearthly talent at finding the unnerving and macabre in his photography. Where most photographers simply document or depict, Stephenson injects feeling into his work, you can see his hand in what he does, experimenting with multiple in camera and developing techniques to alter the truth of his images to reflect his own intentions.

A lot of the photos in the exhibition were taken from his work shooting press shots for local bands, names like PVT, Jack Ladder, Kirin J. Callinan, Bridezilla, Seekae and Ghoul dotting the walls, and Stephenson’s gift for filtering images through his own dark and distorted lens on reality is in full sight. Taking something as everyday and boring as band press shots, Stephenson steeps them in mood and emotion, his work seething with a dark intensity and charisma so often lacking in the listless and blandly put together shots you see flooding street press and websites every week.

Compared to Australia’s unaccountably revered god of band shots Tony Mott, a man who seems to have a made a career out of following around whatever latest crop of pointless clones the Australian music industry has churned out, himself churning out increasingly monotonous and irrelevant photos lacking any sense of invention or innovation, Stephenson has a artistic direction in his photos that one could liken to photographers such as Anton Corbijn or even Annie Lebowitz, even if he is a much darker side of the impressionistic coin.

While the exhibit lacked a lot of his best work, which you can find on his website below (the Hurtsville galleries along with his landscape photos and shots of Kirin J. Callinan, PVT and Jack Ladder being particularly worth a look), even in this diluted form Stephenson’s work was the most inspiring and inspired photography I’ve been to see this year and competing photographers would do well take notice.

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