About Stephen

Stephen McKenzie and photography go way back to the early 1970s when his father, a Kodak employee, plopped an SLR in his son's hands and said, "Look through there, that's right, now hold that and shoot. No, no, that there, yes, good boy, now shoot. No. Oh geez, Milly, I think he needs a nappy change."

You get the picture.

By the mid-1990s, whilst working as a journalist in Prague, Stephen had a better handle on things; he trained his camera less on iconic buildings and more on the strangers in and around them. In 1995, in the city of his dreams, New York, he roamed the streets for days, snapping feverishly photographs which several years later would dominate his first exhibition, The Way They Were, at Toorak's Rose Street Gallery.

Melbourne Weekly Magazine hired Stephen as features writer in 1997 and soon tapped into his photography skills. Said then publisher Anthony McDonald: "We need a social page that's different, not your standard Siamese head posed stuff, a candid shooter with a knack for witty captions." Stephen fitted the bill. So began Decent Exposure, a full-page spread which has taken Stephen to hundreds of exclusive performances, parties, openings and closings.

Stephen was nudged into full-time photography in 2005 following a Fairfax takeover which saw an expanded magazine network and a dearth of shooters. As deep ends go this one was freezing, with nasty rips. Suddenly, the social photographer was snapping covers, real estate, sport, products, news and food, with alien lights and high-pressure deadlines. He thrashed, he swallowed some water, but he emerged a tougher, better shooter ready to take on the ultimate challenge: wedding photography.

Stephen has won several Fairfax photography awards and, in 2008, was runner up in the coveted Moran Contemporary Photography Prize.