Photographer Trevor Stuurman is one of the continent’s creatives who have brought the African aesthetic to the fore and with his eclectic yet authentic imagery, he’s continued to push the boundaries and set far-reaching trends.
Born in Kimberley, Stuurman began his career at 19, breaking onto the scene after earning the top accolade of ELLE Style Reporter in 2012. With a keen eye for photography and style (check out Stuurman Style Diary), and equipped with an honours degree in Motion Picture from AFDA, he’s worked as a trend consultant for retail giants Woolworths, Edgars and Markham, as well as for magazines Glamour and Grazia. He was also named Superga’s influencer for SS16.
During his travels through the continent, Stuurman has captured remote and urban spaces and the people in countries such as Namibia, Rwanda and Kenya. He told us about how travel has influenced his perspective and work.
Why is travelling important to your work?
I’m more of a photographer than a stylist, but it just so happens that I shoot style, lifestyle and culture. Travel always helps me refine my taste and sharpens my eye. I think it also helps me understand people more in terms of behaviour and their choices, which adds so much value to my cultural content. I feel that each time I come back, especially after travelling through Africa, the conversations I have are so much richer; there’s so much cultural currency that comes from travelling. It’s invaluable. With that understanding, I always aspire to see more, do more and ultimately become more with every trip I invest in. Every trip has opened doors, and the world has become bigger and better for me.
You’ve travelled to Kenya, Namibia and Rwanda – any reasons for choosing those destinations?
Kenya is one of my favourite places on the continent. It’s always about connections for me, and I have a strong connection to Kenya specifically. I’ve visited the coast, Nairobi, Mombasa, Lamu, and every part of the country is different. It’s also about having a better understanding of what it means to be African because it’s of no use to call ourselves African and not travel Africa. It’s very important to try to equip yourself with a better understanding of who you are, so we have richer conversations and stand taller in knowing who we are.
What’s been your most memorable travel experience?
My recent trip to Lamu in Kenya. It was exactly what I needed at the time, which was a lot of clarity and tranquility. There’s a saying in Swahili: “pole pole“, which means to take it easy. That’s how I felt about being there.
Apart from your camera, what can’t you travel without?
A whole lot of clothing, because I love having options. I’m not a light traveller so I usually take as much as I can.
Any travel advice?
Don’t always rely on others because sometimes plans work better when you mission alone, get lost and, as a result, kind of find yourself. It’s important to take responsibility for yourself because sometimes people rely on group travel and that can sometimes prolong the process.
Where to next?
Morocco – there may be a partnership there; just throwing it out to the universe – Senegal and the Ivory Coast.
Here are a few incredible pictures from Stuurman’s Instagram.