[Z]ac Stone is the emerging avant-garde fashion photographer you need to know. Influenced by adventure movies, Surrealism, Pop Art, food and “gentle paranoia,” the Australian-born, NYC-based talent has been busy expanding on his unique, riot-of-colour style of photography. Hunger caught up with the one-to-watch to talk sexual intimacy, the work of Stanley Kubrick and the joys of being a self-identified sci-fi nerd…
Hey Zac! You moved to the US from Sydney a few years ago. How did growing up in Australia affect your photography?
For me it was about being so far away from much of the world, I kept falling in love with all this imagery coming over. Origin wasn’t really important as the romanticism of it that I strived to achieved. In the end, the disconnect from giant industries abroad, lead me to mix and match everything I loved without anything holding me back from believing I could achieve the level of work I loved. Everyone was just excited to try. I am not sure I could have experimented and started a portfolio with such great artists and models were it not for being on an Island at the bottom of the world.
Why did you move to New York?
The main reason was because I was asked! A fashion/art creative agency based in LA contacted me and offered to sponsor me. I never believed it would come to reality, I kept working, and 16 months after being asked I got an email that my application was successful and my new home was waiting. I have since moved to NYC, and continue to grow from what I started with.
Your work is purposefully maximalist. How would you describe your style of photography?
My father is an architect who specialised in fashion retail stores. He would do everything – to all the furniture, racks, displays and sometimes huge art installations. A community of creatives was always around my family and the passion of the designers, bringing samples of their clothing, visual and material references of shops, lighting, textiles and generally a lot of partying thrown in as well, really invaded my thoughts.
I’m a really intense thinker, rapid talker and all those people, music, art, textiles and close friendships with Coogi and Jenny Kee really impacted me when I was young. Now it just bursts out into the imagery. I personally see it as balanced while others see it as an explosion.
Who and what inspires you the most?
Oliviero Toscani’s work for Benetton always comes to the front of my mind when I review my work. I also have a huge love for strength and sexual intimacy that Helmut Newton strived for in his more inwards inspired work. Irving Penn and Manray really seem to be the linking influence for what I value in my emotional response to what I produce. The acceptance that sex is a celebrated component of the work, and that a lot of, or lacking of, elegance, class, character and conventional beauty can all be on display with affection and admiration.
Beyond photographers, I really adore Surrealism and Pop Art, and the artists that moved in and out of those orbits. Leonora Carrington, Dali, Kay Sage, Leger, Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Méret Oppenheim, Francis Bacon, Warhol, Joan Miró, and contemporary artists, especially from back home like Anthony Lister and Kid Zoom. Personally I’m a huge nerd as well, and adore science fiction, fantasy, exploitation, cult and documentary TV and movies. The colour and lighting usages of Kubrick, Argento and Wilder seem to come through without much thought too. And music vise, I love early 70’s soul/R&B/funk and post-punk depressive synth rock [laughs].
What’s up next for you?
I don’t really know – I just have always followed what opportunities that present and execute it to my strengths. I have an audition for Comedy Central next week because I said something funny in front of cafe in West Hollywood and my accent was heard, my giant gestures observed and was approached right away to come in and test on camera. But really, I’ll take it as it comes…
Follow Zac on Instagram here.