Updated: Aug 26
Welcome to the "Inspirations" series, interviews with photographers who are creating consistently outstanding work. Meet Peter Stewart, a travel photographer currently based in Hong Kong, who is shooting some amazing imagery in some of the most exciting parts of the world.
You can find Peter on the internet in these places:
Q) Could you tell us a little about yourself, where you are based and your background into photography?
I’m an Australian self-taught photographer specializing in travel with a focus on cityscapes and urban architecture. I’ve been taking pictures now for about 6 years. Back in 2009, I purchased my first ever camera, a Canon 1000D with the 18-55mm kit lens. At the time the intention was just to have something to document my vacations really. Keep in mind that this was a time before smartphone cameras were used for holiday snaps, and even I knew then that point & shoot cameras were rubbish.
Also at this time, I was making a big move back to Australia after living in the UK for 12 years. I used this opportunity to travel a bit and ended up exploring various countries in Asia given the ease of travel with cheap flights in the Asia-Pacific region. Around 2012 I recall starting to take my photography more seriously, in the sense that I was no longer traveling somewhere just for recreation, but with specific intent to document specific locations.
The past two years in particular I had been traveling more and more, so earlier this year I made the decision to leave Australia for good and live as a “digital nomad” full time. I’m currently based out of Hong Kong which I use as a kind of base in order to branch out to other areas in the region.
Q) What is it that has drawn you to being a travel photographer - what are some of the positives, and on the other side, the negatives?
I never gave much thought as to how things would evolve with my photography. I feel like I slowly fell into the theme of ‘travel' over the years as my portfolio grew. The biggest plus side of doing this type of work is not only getting to see and experience these amazing sights yourself, but also inspiring others to travel more and promoting local tourism. It’s always a great feeling when I get a message in my inbox from someone who decided to visit a foreign country based off the appeal of an image I had taken.
On the flip side, the most difficult aspect of travel photography is often the locations themselves. I’ve always said that my photographs lie. They don’t tell the whole truth. If I could use the example of sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. This is a classic travel image of the sun rising over the ancient temples with the motionless lake in the foreground. It’s a picture that provokes feelings of peace and tranquility, and it’s devoid of human interference. What you don’t see however are the lineup of 500 tourists all clambering for limited space to take the exact same shot. Obviously they have as much right to be there as you do, but it does spoil a bit of the magic.
Q) Im fascinated by your project “Stacked", Could you tell us a little bit about how the project came about, how you find your locations? I would also love to know about how local residents etc have reacted to you shooting in their blocks?
Peter has been photographing the densley populated housing developments in Hong Kong, displaying the amazing architecture, character and atmosphere of these developments.
My interest in Hong Kong’s public housing started a couple of years back, when a friend took me to one of the large blocks of high rises to take pictures. At that time I had outgrown most of the touristy locations in the city and was keen to branch out and explore more of the gritty neighborhoods. Conveniently I had recently purchased a 14mm wide angle prime so it was really the perfect match for this type of photography.
I would scout locations using Google Earth searching for specific shapes or buildings with open courtyards that fit the bill. Also, a large Instagr