Cornwall is no stranger to the magic of aerial photography, capturing rugged coastlines and idyllic seaside towns from above have grown in popularity over the years, with keen aerial photographers amassing thousands of followers online. However, with a passion for flight, art and conceptual imagery, abstract aerial photographer George Stephens, also known as Gstee, captures Cornwall’s natural world and in a completely new way.
With ever-changing tides and shifting sands, Gstee’s quest to bring the moving world to print is constantly evolving. Based in Newquay, the aerial abstract photographer looks to present the natural world around him in a way that is not only celebratory of land and sea, but also in a way that celebrates the art of the rugged.
“Mostly, I shoot seascapes,” George explains, “highlight the uninterrupted Cornish coastline. I’m self-taught in photography and my techniques and evolved with me over the years, but I have always been drawn to more unconventional, abstract imagery and art.”
Growing up, George spent much of his time flying with his father, a former Air Traffic Controller who spent his youth in the RAF. Having also attained his private pilot license as a young man, George’s childhood was surrounded by aviation. With a plethora of perspectives literally beneath him, George soon gained an inspired fascination for the aerial from his time gazing down at the world below,
“There is something special about seeing somewhere familiar in a totally new way, so being able to capture and share that feeling with people is really fulfilling. Combining my two passions, photography and aviation, naturally fell into place and the ability to position my camera anywhere I want, has given me so much freedom to be creative with how I shoot.”
George has travelled the world in search of unusual and captivating terrains, from the vibrant pink salt lakes of Spain to the tropical shores of Sri Lanka, however taking centre stage in his photographic works is his stunning shots of Cornwall. George’s take on the rich, ethereal Atlantic Ocean, the meandering estuaries, lazy tidal shifts and patient surfers resting in momentary stillness transform Cornwall’s waters into a mirage of minimalism and photographic artistry of rich, glassy cerulean blues bathed in dappled light and wispy white sands.
“Sunrise is my favourite time to shoot,” George describes, “it’s a peaceful time of day and when all of the elements align it’s nice to get lost in that moment.”
“In Cornwall, I’ll usually head out to a new area and see where the day takes me. Often some of my favourite images come from being in the right place at the right time. Whether that’s to do with the weather, light or a certain point in the tide that reveals a pattern in the ocean or sand. When shooting abroad, I usually research a particular location or subject before the try, but once I’m there I tend to be less rigid and give myself freedom to adapt with the conditions in that moment.”
Chance and experience are challenges that George finds himself grateful for. Ruled by the landscape and its forever moving swells, winds, sunshine and rain, means that no two shoots are ever the same. The thrill of circumstance accompanied by time spent learning to read the weather that allows for idyllic photography, means George appreciates the days when things simply fall into place,
“You may only have one day or even a few hours at a certain location, and if the conditions aren’t quite right then, it can be pretty frustrating. However, that part of the process makes me grateful on the days where it all comes together.
“I love the adventure. Getting out and finding new places and being able to share my vision of those spots is a great privilege. One of my favourite places to shoot is the Gannel Estuary in Newquay. It is a constantly evolving landscape and flows through its many visual states with the tide. This makes for a really spectacular view from above.”
Offering a sense of escapism accompanied by the familiarity of capturing places around Cornwall known and loved by many, George’s photos make for an enchantingly unique glimpse at Cornwall’s coast, whilst his works taken abroad aim to transport the viewer away, to evoke a sense of calm,
“My intention is to take the viewer on a bit of a journey, inviting them to take a moment in the present. Our natural world offers so much inspiration and it is a captivating canvas to work with.”
George is always releasing new work on his website in the form of prints and he soon hopes to get back to showcasing his images in exhibitions in Cornwall and beyond. You can discover more at www.gstee.co.uk