Creating a masterpiece cannot be rushed. “Lighting is everything,” explains Steve Scott in his soft drawl, giving away his Texas roots. “I see the image in my mind and then go get it in the camera.”
Despite his casual, easy-going way of describing his work, Steve admits to spending hours waiting until the light and shadows reveal the exact exposure he wants. His intense commitment to a singular vision illuminates the vibrant elegance in each landscape and commercial portrait he creates.
40+ Years of Practice
Steve’s journey to becoming a celebrated photographer wasn’t conventional. Although it’s been his identity for 40-years, it was a much-loved pastime until 2020. “I had a family to raise. It was tough to do it in photography,” he explained.
He studied English and Engineering and ended up with a B.S. in Education (“I think Baylor made up that degree for me,” he chuckles), and a minor in Art and Philosophy, and later more art and photography in graduate school which he never finished. Steve started a successful computer technical career at Wang Laboratories in Boston in the 1980s.
After working there for seven years, Steve Scott founded a biotechnology company outside of Washington DC. After 7 years he split with his partner and returned to Waco and founded another tech business that he turned over to his son in 2020, when he retired as an electronics design engineer and became a full-time photographer.
All along his technical career, he always kept a camera nearby and had a black and white darkroom and then graduated to color and even had his own color processor. Moving from film to digital was difficult and took 2 bodies to make sense of it “Mostly like shooting slide film all the time!”.
Thanks to his closest and earliest influence, Stephen became an artist intent on traveling his path.
“Mom was quite creative and provided a great environment for me to grow, even though she was a single parent,” he explains. “I started my interest in photography when my grandfather gave me his Zeiss Ikon TLF. I was immediately impressed.”
And smitten. He was still in college when he was gifted the camera and immediately signed up for photography courses. “It was an even greater release for my creativity – more than any electronics design.”
This new interest also provided some income. Steve Scott built a darkroom with a small color processor and worked taking portraits and photographing weddings.
After landing his job at Wang, Steve vowed never to shoot weddings again. Fortunately, his hard work and talent ensured he’d never have to.
Steve Scott: The Master’s Touch
This fine artisan’s creative perspective is surprisingly similar to an accomplished painter. At first glance, his landscapes resemble oil paintings due to their rich color saturation. It’s no surprise that the Old Italian Masters are inspirations.
“Photography is much like working with watercolors, it’s fast and colorful and you must get the composition correct before anything dries. Or in the case of photography, before the shutter snaps.” Steve Scott says. “Color, light, shadow are much like oil paints. The interplay is what drives the viewer’s eye and hopeful emotional responses.”
He has traveled to the most remote areas of the U.S. to capture his masterpieces – from the sea to mountains, often featuring dynamic waterfalls, serene lakes, and awe-inspiring canyons.
Art lovers in and around Waco can experience his work first-hand at the Mayborn Museum housed at his alma mater, Baylor. Here his artwork is in a special exhibit aptly titled, “Alchemy of Light.”
The landscapes are displayed in their exhibit hallway. As the viewer walks through, they are transported on a journey across the states. “It starts with photographs on the eastern seaboard in North Carolina to Yellowstone, Slot Canyons in Page, Arizona, and the Monument Valley to Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.”
“Images should tell a story – they should be somewhat magical. It’s more important now because I think we’ve lost our ability to imagine,” Steve says.
He also has a thriving commercial business, photographing boutique liquors and fine wines for distillers and vintners. His work has been included in ads that grace national magazines and billboards in Indiana.
After spending time with Steve and his work, you can deduce that his favorite subjects are landscapes with water and bottles. He explains that these subjects present unique challenges, but as his work demonstrates, when the lighting is right, the results are spectacular.
A Drive for Quality
As a fine artist, Steve Scott demonstrates his commitment to quality above all else through his dedication to lighting. He has the same dedication when it comes to printing his masterpieces.
He had to go through four well-known color houses to find what he was looking for in ArtisanHD.
“These guys are awesome. I have used a [German printer] and another big house in California, but Mike at ArtisanHD actually listens to me and works with me to get my images to evoke the emotional response that I want.”
He explains what the process is like when a commercial printer is committed to the quality of an artist’s work: “For this current exhibit (Alchemy of Light), I wanted to print a large image of a bear. Mike said the file looked fine but at 5×7-feet I wanted to make sure. Mike took a 1×1-foot section at scale and printed it. The detail in the bear’s eyes is as clear as it is on my 24-bit screens!
Since then, I have taken the same approach and print sections at scale on large prints to ensure sharpness and clarity.”
He goes on to explain exactly what it is that ArtisanHD delivers. “The color space is exactly what I send, the contrast, the careful attention to detail. What can I count on from Artisan HD? Perfection.”
Advice from Nature’s Alchemist Steve Scott
Steve is content with what he’s doing – he sees more of the same in his future. For young photographers starting, he passes along some sage advice, “Lighting is everything! And get to know your camera – shoot in manual because it’s all about the light. I’ve waited hours until the light is exactly what I want.
I still use my film cameras and it is easy to switch back and forth with the same philosophy; shoot what you are passionate about and get it in the camera!”
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Steve Scott’s full interview is below:
What inspired you to study art?
This is a great question and I do get asked quite a bit.
I started my interest in photography when my grandfather gave me his Zeiss Ikon TLF. I was immediately impressed. I was at the time studying to be an electronic engineer which I did pursue but photography was an even greater release for my creativity – more than any electronics design I ever created.
I had a darkroom complete with a small color processor. Worked in black and white, color, did portraiture and wedding photography. Did so much of each that I said once I graduated college, I would never shoot a portrait or do a wedding again.
I like the composition and importantly the lighting in a shot. I do have a degree in art and use it for this. I also used my degree in art to aid with my electronic designs. More on this if you want later.
Photography is much like watercolors, its fast and colorful and you must get the composition correct before anything dries or in the case of photography before the shutter snaps. Color, light, shadow all are much like oil paints. The interplay is what drives the viewer’s eye and hopeful emotional response.
What makes your photography unique?
Patrons tell me it is the artistic flair I give my images. I pay close attention to the light. I always have been driven to the Masters – their use of light and shadow. I have waited hours for the lighting to be what I think it needs to be to get an exposure. My clients all have given me high marks for my use of ‘light’.
Is it important for you to take people on a journey through your art?
Images should tell a story – they should be somewhat magical. It’s more important now because I think we’ve lost our ability to imagine.
The greatest compliment I’ve received is, “You gave me the ability to go places that I’ll never go! I’ve lost myself in your images and I feel tranquil.” These comments and to see people’s faces as I watch people go through experiencing my work are phenomenal!
What goes into creating an Opening, artist launch or event?
There is much that goes into this. My marketing person, Karen Oakley, coordinates with the exhibit space manager to get an understanding of what is needed. I then pull from my image inventory and print the images for that specific exhibit.
There is way more than this, gallery tags, vocal voice-overs, etc.
Steve Scott has exhibited in the Mayborn Museum in his alma mater, Baylor in Waco.
Which takes viewers on a journey across the states – starts with photographs on the eastern seaboard in North Carolina to Yellowstone Slot Canyons in Page AZ and the Monument Valley to Columbia River Gorge.
Have you traveled to famous “art” cities – Paris, London, Florence, New York, etc.? if yes, what is your favorite art city and why?
I have but inspiration can come just as easily from a small babbling brook beside a dirt road or an open expanse from the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can view some of my work on Instagram.
Do you have a favorite subject?
Yes, it’s landscapes with water – it’s harder to convey emotion in those images, but I like a challenge. Peter Lik is my favorite photographer to follow.
I also do commercial work, I shoot bottles – wine, whiskey – shooting glass is also difficult. I have done work for distillers and winemakers all over the US, even have a billboard image!. I also am a wine lover – I have a 3,300-bottle capacity in my wine cellar.
Do you care to share a little about your background? Were your parents involved in art? What was your early life like?
My Mother was quite creative and provided a great environment for me to grow even though a single parent. I have always followed my own path. I studied what I wanted in college, and it took 5 years and 186 hours to graduate with a double-major and double minor. Diploma states ‘BS in Education’. Baylor made that up just for me I think…….
Why do you choose to work with a commercial printer like ArtisanHD?
These guys are awesome. I have used Whitewall (Germany), and another big house in California but Mike at Artisan actually listens to me and works with me to get my images to evoke the emotional response that I want.
I think you should have an open and creative relationship with your printer, and I have finally (after 4 houses) found the group on which I can rely.
What can you count on when you send work to ArtisanHD?
The color space is exactly what I send, the contrast, the careful attention to detail. What can I count on from Artisan HD? Perfection.
Can you give us an example of how ArtisanHD came through for you?
For this current exhibit, I wanted to print a large image of a bear. Mike said the file looked fine but at 5×7 feet I wanted to make sure. Mike took a 1×1 ft section at scale and printed it. The detail in the bear’s eyes is as clear as it is on my 24bit screens!
Since then, I have taken the same approach and print sections at scale to ensure sharpness and clarity.
What advice would you give to artists just starting out?
I share what I am passionate about. I started in photography over 40 years ago. Back then I had studied with many well-known photographers. One in particular was Leon Kennamer. He would always preach “get it in the camera – you don’t make any money in the darkroom!’. That is even more important today. Just because it is digital (although I still have my Hasselblad, RZ67, and 2 4×5 sheet film cameras) you should pay attention to exposure, and composition.
Lighting is everything! And get to know your camera – shoot in manual because it’s all about the light. I’ve waited hours until the light is exactly what I want.
I still use my film cameras and it is easy to switch back and forth with the same philosophy; shoot what you are passionate about and get it in the camera!
What’s next for Steve Scott?
I’m just going to do this – I’m enjoying it. I don’t see me doing anything different. I like doing what I’m doing – bringing artistic images to commercial. I want to bring an artisanal edge to commercial photography and do something that evokes emotion and inspires others to act.