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Diverse and Challenging
New York-based photographer Robin Stein creates editorial, commercial, and documentary photography and video, featured in Vogue, Esquire, Wired, Allure, and many more. Stein avoids settling on a specific aesthetic and allows himself to be intuitive and impulsive. It’s a way of moving forward through a never-ending visual journey, preserving a fresh perspective, and adapting to the present moment.
There’s nothing that feels more anti-climactic to me than perfectly executing a pre-conceived idea. More than anything, I like to look towards a wide range of references – everything from paintings to films, architecture, and piles of trash on the street. When I’m in the studio or shooting on location, my method is mostly about responding to what’s in front of me or the items I’m working with. I like to look at how things inherently work together or how people engage with their surroundings and then see what comes out of it.
Stein has an eclectic portfolio that includes still life, portraits, product photography, and landscapes. It’s easy to speak about his soft palette, architectural use of space, or intelligent use of light. But the truth is that Stein is a surprising artist, and each photo is somehow different from the one you’ve seen before, although slightly similar as well.
When I start to feel like there is a certain thing that my work is supposed to be, I want to push back against it and see where else I can go.
Robin Stein engages in as many projects as he can, keeping himself inspired and challenged. A long-term project with the quilt artist Meghan Callahan to document the functional and utilitarian life of a quilt she made, and a 16 mm film project about flowers in collaboration with set designer and stylist Margaret Macmillan Jones are just some of them. It’s the fruitful reward of figuring out how to make artist life sustainable and economically viable to allow personal artistic projects.
I always seem to have a whole variety of projects that are simultaneously occupying my interest, simmering on the back burner. It’s taken many years for me to get to this point, but I find it rewarding that I can now afford to make the work that I want to without feeling stressed about the upfront costs.
It’s inspiring to see Robin Stein challenge himself to produce fresh perspectives and authentic pieces, discovering new dimensions of editorial and documentary photography. While it’s easy to follow the footsteps of the masters of photography, being able to find your inner voice as a photographer and create a diverse and challenging body of work deserves respect.
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Article written by Monica Radulescu