Michael Stonis

Sivan Miller

Michael Stonis
Sivan Miller

Let's start with the basics. Where are you from and how did you get into photography?
I am born and raised in Cape Town South Africa. I got into photography when my mother bought me back a small compact camera from the east when she went on holiday. I had no idea that this little camera would have changed my life, but it did. From the minute I picked it up, a camera has not left my hands. It first started as a hobby but as the years went on my passion grew stronger and stronger. It really clicked in my head that this is what I want to do when I got featured in a double page spread in Oprah Magazine, I was still in school and couldn't believe it!

How is the fashion industry in Cape Town?
The fashion industry in Cape Town is very small. After a few years of now being involved in the scene, you get to understand how the industry works. We are defiantly behind here, with respect to other parts of the world. Our fashion timeline is delayed, and we are always looking up to the international scene, for references, styling tips, etc etc.

In general what's your process setting up a shoot?
In general, my process for setting up a shoot goes like this:
I get a briefing from a client, where we will sit down and discuss what the outcome must be like. The client and myself then go into a casting phase, where we will go to all the model agencies, and take a look at all the available girls that meet our requirement. After a few days, we come to a conclusion and make our selection. During the brief, we will also be in discussion on a location that suits the scene. If we do not have one we will have to do a recci, which involves us going out and finding one (most locations have their own fee as well)

How is it differ from an editorial to a commercial shoot?
Shooting an editorial gives you, as the photographer, a lot more freedom to create what you want to. It is your own interpretation of the clothing, model and scene. There is no real right or wrong, it is how you want to tell the story. In a commercial shoot, there is a very clear idea that has been put forward, and 99% you are shooting the image just how the client wants it.

What's your normal camera setup?
My normal camera setup is a Canon 5dmk2, with a Canon 24-70L. I have a whole range of lenses that I can choose from on the shoot day depending on the shots I am looking to capture.

What do you look for in the models you shoot and where do you get them?
The models I love to work with must be able to emit emotion. They must almost be half actors and half models. Emotion is key for me! I want my viewer to feel a feeling when they look at my images. I work very closely with the model on the shoot day to try and bring this out of them. It is hard work but in the end it all pays off. I have been in this industry for a few years now so all the model agencies down here in Cape Town know of me, and always keep me updated with any new faces / internationals coming down into the country. I also go visit the agencies during each month to see who is new in town.

You seem to enter quite a few contests, how has that benefited your career?
When I was in school I would always enter as many competitions as I could. Most of them had great cash prizes and free exposure. I won a lot of them which did help my carrer as it got me noticed, especially in Cape Town, seeing as it is a very small city we live in. I also used all the cash prizes to go towards my camera equipment at the time.

What has been your favorite shoot in your career?
My favorite shoot in my career so far was a recent shoot I did for an international bikini company called MINX bikinis. I had the pleasure of shooting with 2 top models, one of which was featured in Vogue last month. We shot on an amazing beach down here in Cape Town, the weather was hot, the team was great, it was a perfect day in my mind. The feeling you get when you see your client happy, its the best feeling + it motivates you more to keep on creating amazing work.

What do you have planned in the near future?
I have many projects planned for the future. I have just got into the retail sector, shooting for big clothing chain stores. I want to get my work into shops, on billboards and in advertising.

Let's jam through some 1 word answers Q/A's
Film or Digital? Digital
Location or Studio? Location
Women Models or Men? Woman Models
Dream client? Dream client has to be Vogue
Dream Model? Lara Stone
When my career is over I want to be remembered as?
I want to be remembered as the youngest fashion photographer who made it happen!