Prepare The Flash shines a light on folks that shine a light themselves. The people behind the camera, taking pictures of the artists we all love. Let's take a look behind the scenes of some of Belgium’s most infamous clickers.
If you’re into (Belgian) hip hop, there’s no way you haven’t seen Stig De Block’s work by now. As the house photographer of K1D and Woodie Smalls, he always captures their best pictures in a classical, yet modern style. In 2017 he’s been strolling through the streets of Osaka, which got him a feature on I-D. Beside that, his concert picture of Marty Baller ended up on the cover of his new album and he recently hit the boulevards of Los Angeles. “My best work comes out of traveling, so I hope I can continue what I am doing now and grow one step at a time.” If you thought you had a good year, scroll through our conversation with Stig De Block!
Tell us more about you and how you ended up photographing.
“During my childhood, I developed a great interest in true American scenery from the 80s-90s era. Its exoticism triggered me to pursue my own style in photography, and I do so combining documentary and fashion projects. I look at my practice like a melting pot where I combine my main interests. I think you need to keep looking for more depth and other perspectives as a photographer.”
You’re the house photographer of Woodie Smalls. How is working with Woodie like and how did you guys meet?
“I basically grew up with Samson & Gert, Michael Jackson and Tupac. I can’t rap, but I wanted to express my vision and be a part of it’s culture. I remember going through the work of Dana Lixenberg and Chi Modu, who portrayed people like Puff Daddy, Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z, and I kept thinking that this is what I wanted to do. In 2011 I got in touch with Darrell Cole and K1D. We got together, I took some shots and that was that!”
“4 years later, Woodie Smalls dropped “Champion Sound” and I saw K1D in the credits. I contacted Woodie some time after the single dropped, and his manager hit me up with dates for some of his upcoming shows. My first time being with him was around September 2015. Since then I try to do as much work for them as possible. Ranging from doing album art to press photos and show recaps. We just like hanging out together. They let me do me, which had a great influence in my evolution as an artist.”
You went to Japan together and shot a series called “96 hours in Osaka”. Where did the idea come from and where you looking for anything specific?
“Japan was crazy! It was on my list for a long time, but timing and money weren’t on my side. We flew to Japan to perform three shows and recorded the videoclip of Tokyo Drift (which recently hit 2 million views on YouTube, ed.) in just four days. So the series “96 HOURS IN OSAKA” is just me running around between shows, being overwhelmed by the scenery and cool people I met along the way. Definitely the most eye-opening experience in my life so far.”
Your pictures look very classical, yet modern. How would you describe your style and how did you evolve towards it?
“I believe it’s connected to what I said earlier: the influence of 90s movies and it’s colors, combined with my interest in today’s youth culture - that’s what makes it look contemporary. I try not to say ‘style’ because that sounds like it changes over season. I still do the same thing like five years ago, but my perspective changed. And it’ll keep evolving as long as I put the work in and challenge myself!”
Marty Baller used your concert picture as the cover of his new mixtape. How did that happen?
“I bumped into Marty at Woo Hah! Festival 2016 after his performance with A$AP Ferg, telling myself I should keep an eye on him. So when I saw that he was coming to Europe again, I texted him if I could join. He immediately replied: ‘hell yeah let’s do it!’. I joined him on tour quite late, so I thought I didn’t have much of a chance. But he happened to perform in Paris during fashion week where I shot Leo By Leo’s SS18 collection presentation. I shot his show at one o’clock, got to my hotel room at five, catched a train at seven, got home, did my post process and sent him the photos right away. He posted the picture shortly after. But a couple of days later he announced his new album cover with my picture on it. I didn’t even know! I’m very grateful for him appreciating my work. We have been talking a little and it would be great to do it even better in 2018.”
You’ve been to L.A. recently. Can we expect to see some new work soon?
“Going there was like a dream come true. I bought an L.A. Dodgers cap, hoping it would bring me luck - because I’ve wanted to go for so long - and it worked! I had the chance to work on the Wrangler SS18 campaign with great talent like David Gomez Maestre, Bob Jeusette and Uber & Kosher who do the creative direction for the brand. Words can’t describe the kind of vibe that we had! Plus new work is coming, I did a similar series like the one in Osaka. I’ll be going back soon.”
What were your key moments in 2017? And what are your goals for 2018 and beyond?
“My highlights of this year were getting signed at my agency ‘Berlin’ on my birthday, visiting all those cities with Woodie and K1D, going to Vancouver with Herschel Supply Co and recently hitting up Los Angeles, of course. Work with Woodie Smalls is on-going. We all evolve a lot and it’s motivating to see everyone going places.”
Some advice for young photographers?
“Do your thing and hold on to it. Give yourself time to grow and accept failure. Take a step back, evaluate yourself. Keep pushing, don’t do what they expect you to do. Buy books not likes!”