Andrew Stark

Born in 1964, Andrew Stark is an Australian urban and candid street photographer, focusing his work mainly in Sydney from early 80s. Stark attended Newington College from 1976 to 1981. His initial inspirations were Robert Frank, William Klein, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Stark’s photographic style can be described as vulnerable, ambiguous, and with a hint of melancholy. His photography is constantly evolving from the mores of realist observations into deep monochromatic shades of poetic susceptibility. His work is unlike traditional approaches towards photographic documentary – his work has gradually developed into an intensely and interpretatively personal oeuvre. His photographs have always remained overtly honest, without any planned settings or staging.

Stark’s work is a representation of a diary absorbed with moods and feelings and presented with time and place. He is drawn towards capturing instants of intimacy, tenderness, and surreal hilarity in public spaces, as described by Robert McFarlane. Candid photography is not something that any photographer can do, it needs courage and objectivity to portray the scene exactly the way it is, without any subjectivity or manipulation. Andrew Stark is always equipped with his camera in order to be ready to click. Whatever the result is, it is interpreted in different ways by each viewer.

For Stark, Sydney is a large city with massive subject matter and at the same time it benevolently offers some kind of anonymity. Although for the photographer this city is not too inspirational, but it’s his home and he knows all the short cuts. Snaps from Sydney, is a collection of photos taken by Stark before the year 2003. In addition to this, Stark has published more photo-books, such as Candidly Inclined, and No Through Road. In 2010, another book by Stark was published, entitled Escaping Into Life. It comprises of an exploration and study of modern street photography.

In order to photograph, Stark has always used the Konica TC with both 28 to 40 millimeter lens and shoots with HP5 or Tri X. For 25 years, this is what he has used and now for Stark it is instinctively ordinary. Unlike those photographers who equip themselves with latest technologies, Andrew Stark feels that equipment is not so important. Obviously, it is needed since it is a tool to capture something, but the most important thing is…to watch the world.

Some other photographers who use a similar street photography approach are, Diane Arbus, Helen Levitt, Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand among many other spreading over a century. In documentary photography, one need a camera and ears to watch, listen and procure sans knowledge. It is like spying and observing mundane life of people. As a form of art, such photography reached its pinnacle around the 1950’s to 1960’s, and as a realist genre it is with the eccentric artists to take this form further.

In the entire year of 2007, Stark steered his concentration towards a documentary project in the district known as Sutherland Shire. It is noted for the Cronulla race unrest of 2005. The resultant images were exhibited at Sydney’s Hazelhurst Gallery in 2008. The show was called Down South.

Andrew Stark has used this type of photography to record life in Australia’s most densely inhabited city, Sydney – for over two decades. His images show the transformations and development of this metropolitan area by capturing the vibrant people and the streets of this city.