Russell Stafford is a published and award winning photographer. His 18 year portfolio covers a range of subjects with a specialization in portraiture. He considers photography the best way for him to showcase his skill as an artist, creator, and craftsman.
This is the selfie generation, and everyone seems to have access to a camera and Photoshop, but professional photography hasn’t fallen by the wayside. The art of photography is evolving every day and one local photographer is working hard to stay on top of it all.
“I’m not competitive, I just don’t want to lose,” says Russell Stafford of his photography expertise. He constantly studies not only local photographers, but national magazine photographers as well to stay on top of the latest trends and techniques to provide clients with the best. “The industry itself has grown. That’s one of the things I have to do with new clients is inform them what’s good, and show them how good I am and how to be better for them.” But the wedding and portrait photographer wasn’t always consumed by the business. He actually started out in sales.
“I was an outside salesman for manufacturer, so I was constantly on the road, working 14-hour days. I decided if I was going to work that hard, it would have to be something that I love.” Stafford grew up watching his grandfather, a Korean War veteran, practice photography with the Florida Times Union newspaper in Jacksonville. Following in his footsteps, he chose to study photography and registered at Gwinnett Technical College and by the time he graduated, he had beaten all of the students in his class and won Best Portfolio. So what’s his trick?
“I want my portraits to be more than snapshots. They’re heavy studio and very creative conceptual,” he explains. “I don’t really give titles to my images because when someone looks at one of my pictures, I want them to ask questions and I don’t want to, as a photographer, tell them what they should see.” He recalls one image from his collegiate portfolio that created quite the buzz:
“I was working with this really tall, red-headed girl with very soft features. I talked to her, and got to know her and decided to do a light airy picture. I got someone to make a crown of flowers, and we had a big white flowy outfit. But when we started doing the pictures, we just couldn’t connect. So we talked for a bit and decided to do something different. I had made fake blood for a different shoot so we put it on her face and hands and it immediately went from being a light image to a dark and mischievous thing. People at the show had so many things that they thought it was about and asked so many questions. That’s what I aim to do.”
Getting to know his subject is important to Stafford, and it’s why he chose portrait photography. “I like working with people and talking to people. I think everyone has a story.” And when shooting weddings with Choose the Moment, he seeks to capture every development in the story and approaches the day from a journalistic point of view. He prefers to stay out of site and out of the way, capturing raw emotions and candid moments.
“My goal is to have every image I make so unique that it doesn’t matter if someone crops my watermark out, everyone will look at it and go, “That’s Russell’s image.”
Check out his portfolio at RWStaffordJr.com
-April James, Southern Distinction Magazine, Volume 3:2
if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.