Photography as a means to transport and evoke nostalgia
Meet Stuart Cantor, a well-loved Australian photographer who captures the hearts of design and travel lovers around the globe. Whether you’ve dreamt of going or travelled there before, his photographs transport you to the crystal shores of the Amalfi Coast, or the sun drenched South of France. Capturing the laid-back charm of old-world luxury from a high vantage point, his nostalgic images work effortlessly within an interior space. We chat to Stuart about his foray into photography, his muses and his method.
Hi Stuart, thanks so much for chatting to us. We’d love to start by asking how you first got into photography?
My background is in residential property development and as a result I’ve always had a passion for architecture and beautiful interiors.
Although, I’ve also always had a camera with me. I’m self-taught, but have always had a keen eye and have known what aesthetic I do and don’t like.
A few years ago - following a friend’s wedding in Positano where I took a lot of photographs - I started enlarging my work to ‘oversized’ and putting them on my walls. Friends began complimenting my work and it seemed to be really well received.
A couple of years later it was still as a passion and I had made a few prints for friends, so I thought I would create a start up and see if others also enjoyed my work. Initially, I couldn’t get my head around putting myself out there creatively, but I caught up with a well-regarded interior designer and said “tell me what you think” and she said “yeah, I like them – you should go for it!” and so it has really gone from there.
"They’ve just got character these places, they’re not flashy, they’ve been there for 50 years, they’re understated, the service is amazing, people don’t care. You’ve just got people there enjoying life in all forms."
It's apparent that a passion for architecture influences your photographs, do you have any other muses? If so, what are they and how do they influence your work?
In terms of design, I think I have an eclectic taste and love everything from minimalist look interiors to your over-the-top decorative villas in the South of France and Italy.
It would be difficult to say that a landscape and lifestyle photographer hasn’t been influenced by the American photographer Slim Aarons. His work is iconic and it is special to photograph some of the same locations 50 years later.
What are you aiming to capture in your images?
I try to create an emotional connection between the viewer and my work. My goal is to trigger a past memory of an amazing holiday enjoyed by the viewer. Anyone lucky enough to visit these locations will have had an extraordinary holiday that will be a lifetime memory. I hope to remind the viewer of those good times.. and if they haven’t been there, I want the viewer to feel as though they’re sitting there at that beach club and be transported there.
"I just try and do something that makes it feel as though it’s photographed from another time, which I think comes across in the photos. The muteness fits well in interiors when you’re styling it."
You spent a decade living in Europe. What is it that made you gravitate to these places and capture scenes of old world, luxury glamour?
They’ve just got character. These locations have been there for a long time and have been popular well before they were “insta famous”. The timeless nature of these locations adds to my work’s nostalgic feel and I hope that I manage to capture a little bit of that the old world glamour.
Your images have this incredible muted, yet lustrous quality to them that have the ability to transport you to each place - how much time do you spend in post-production versus playing with light behind the camera?
I try to let the light do as much work as possible and minimise as much post-production work as possible.
The muteness of colour adds to the nostalgic feel, but also fits well with interiors when you’re styling it. I do think about “what would someone want on a wall.” My palette and aesthetic generally seems to resonate with people, which is always nice to hear.
What do you think the presence of art and photography does for a home?
It connects emotionally. With art, everyone sees and feels something different based on their life experiences. With my work, it might be a nice print on the wall but it also reminds someone of their honeymoon and or of good times with their friends, where people go “oh my god, remember that time...” — for me that’s awesome.
You’ve recently picked an exclusive range for Tigmi Trading — what made you choose these particular photographs?
Tigmi have a certain aesthetic and it’s the warm colour palette and the range we select is a combination of France and Italy — and it’s again that old world feeling — you look at the photos and are hopefully transported to another space.
This exclusive collection is available on our website here.