Steven Hawkins at samizPhot


I was born in England in 1952, but got hauled off to Canada at a very young age, and have spent most of my life in Montreal and Toronto, where I presently live.

I have had a love of photographic images since boyhood, due solely to a volume of black and white images titled The World's Best Photographs, published sometime in the late '30s. This was always the book I went to when I wanted to escape to a foreign place, meet interesting people, or see the world and events in ways I had never imagined.

As a career, however, I chose a different route and have spent the past thirty-something years working as a freelance stage lighting designer, designing lighting for the theatre and occasionally dance and opera. I have designed over 300 productions to date for companies across North America. Although I have spent most of my life making pictures, I have never felt any strong desire to capture them, preferring instead to keep them in memory, forever connected to an imagined world and the words and emotions of a theatrical moment. 

My interest in taking photographs was sparked by a photographer friend who suggested that I might enjoy exploring with a camera. My initial intent was to capture the various qualities of light, but what came out of that experience was a completely new and very different visual awareness. Photography offered me a graphic world free of any constraints or limitations, one not bound to the needs of a particular text, theatrical convention, or production design.

Lighting design taught me how to see, how to manipulate colour and contrast and depth, how to express emotion in visual terms, and how to focus the eye to what was important. Photography has opened up the world and extended those skills and graphic sensibilities in unlimited ways.

Transition, samizPhot, 2 January to 18 March 2007