Miner turns artist – The Stuart McKay journey
STUART McKay’s photographic and videography career is a shining example of the saying “practice makes perfect” which has seen him travel the world and open Agnes Waters’ first fine art gallery.
Without any formal training, the father-of-four spent five years honing his techniques to the point where he is now in such demand he plans to train a small team to showcase his “visual storytelling” to a global audience.
At the start of 2015, after working for 12 years in the mining industry at Blackwater, Mr McKay knew there was more he could achieve in life, for himself and his family.
“Being away from the family was always really tough, so in my weeks off I started to pick up a camera and practice, and I started to get a few jobs on the side until I got to the point where I thought I could support my family,” he said.
“After a year of full-time photography I looked at my situation and thought, well I’m pretty much broke as it was a tough year and it’s a tough industry to crack.”
At the cross roads of a potential career, Mr McKay knuckled down and polished his skills.
“I put a lot of effort into gaining new skills, I got right into videography and all different styles of photography, from real estate shoots to portrait shoots, trying to get really good across all styles of photography,” he said.
“I spent countless hours watching You Tube tutorials, and I found the thing with perfecting photography was getting out there and shooting every day and learning by my mistakes.
“If you miss a shot or it’s over exposed you just go back to the drawing board and work out what you did wrong, until you nail that shot.
“I think consistency and practice is what develops your eye and your techniques, and helps you get really good at your craft.
“For all of my still images I shoot in raw, on a Sony camera, and for colour correction I use Adobe Lightroom, and for video editing I’m a Mac man so I use Final Cut Pro.”
With a burning passion for starlapse photography, Mr McKay knew he had “made it” when his work was featured on the BBC website in March.
During May, Mr McKay spent weeks across the entire region capturing the stunning scenery to compile an impressive tourism video and photo portfolio for the GADPL.
When other regions saw his visual storytelling, Mr McKay was recognised by Tourism Australia and Tourism and Events Queensland.
Recently he completed a five-week shoot for Tourism Whitsundays, creating a visual story of the region’s outstanding natural wonders.
“It’s been an amazing journey, but in the first year or two was very hard to find my feet,” he said.
“Now I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world and got picked up by some great travel agencies and did Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Java.
“I’ve been to some amazing places and I’m really looking forward to the future.”
His latest project is the Stuart McKay Fine Art Gallery, now open upstairs at the 1770 Marina.