Back when I was a designer in the eighties and early nineties, I worked closely with a handful of photographers that I trusted. Just as now, these photographers really made our lives easier and had a huge part to play in the identity of the design work that we created.
Steve Hanson was one of those photographers. I first started working with Steve on the iconic Opera North design work of the late eighties and he was already on board and working directly with the client and producing his signature brooding black and white imagery for a forward thinking client. From a design perspective, this was a marriage made in heaven and before long we were creating some of the most beautiful design to be seen in the region (in my humble opinion of course).
This work then formed a platform and I worked alongside Steve on a range of projects ranging from Northern Ballet Theatre, Phoenix Dance, Leeds Film Festival and Rowan Yarns. Steve’s image ‘style’ was moody and intense and heavy on the post production processing – as there was no Photoshop in those days he relied heavily on traditional darkroom techniques.
Steve was always a pleasure to work with – challenging the brief, not always following it, which often resulted in a winning images. His intense personality combined with a passion to get the job right and do great work meant that it wasn’t always plain sailing working with Steve. But the credit Photo: Hanson was a badge that meant a lot in the design and cultural community.
Over time I’d lost touch with Steve as our paths went different ways. I was increasingly less and less a hands on creative and I wasn’t responsible for commissioning photography and he was off pursuing other interests in London.
I was really sad to find out that Steve died recently – he’d been living on Holy Isle following his lifelong passion for landscape photography. I got a call out of the blue from a designer who also used to work with Steve who told me the news – It was quite a shock. Have a look at his latest work here, it’s still beautiful.
So this weekend I dug out some of our old work we did together. It was stashed away in the garage in a box, so it wasn’t in the best shape. Nevertheless it stands the test of time I think and Steve’s images are as striking and evocative as ever. Steve once told me he loved how great his shots looked in my designs and it was one of my proudest moments as a designer.
The world has lost a wonderful image maker who cared immensely about everything he did from the mundane to the spectacular. You will be missed Steve.