Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Geek behind Geekzania

Who is behind Geekzania?

We thought that we'd get Stuart to tell us a bit about himself and why he started Geekzania.

'Firstly a bit about myself, I am a huge Geek. Before I became a full time freelance photographer I worked for the UK Ministry of Defence for 20 years. I'm a fully qualified Aeronautical Engineer and was a full Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society (MRAeS). I worked in flight test research and development, air vehicle design and analysis. I was a UK SME (subject matter expert) for flight control and air vehicle simulation and modelling, about as close as you can get to being a rocket scientist without actually being a rocket scientist. I worked for 10 years on an experimental Harrier programme, developing flight control systems that fed into, eventually, the development of the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). I also worked on the systems clearance of the Eurofighter Typhoon and Unmanned Air Vehicle research and development. I used to travel the world with my job, representing the UK MoD on a number of International research programmes and committees (though as anyone who does this will tell you it's not particularly glamorous or fun, you don't really get to see where you are visiting, just an airport, which all look the same, and the inside of a hotel room, which all look the same). I'm an expert coder in numerous languages, all the way from Coral66 through to Ruby and developed and produced high fidelity air vehicle simulation models for a number of aircraft types. I used to develop computer games in my spare time as a hobby. I spent my latter years in the MoD advising the Government on a range of issues and research programmes, including a fair bit of work on what eventually became the BAE Systems Taranis 

In my spare time I enjoyed (and still do, though I tend not to have spare time anymore) drinking, sci-fi & fantasy films & tv, video gaming and reading stories and comics.

In the late 1990s the MoD began to get rid of their dedicated photographers, tending to use any staff who could handle a camera instead. I'd always been a keen hobbyist photographer so found myself taking official shots of various flight test activities for publicity purposes. As a result I had a few shots published in magazines such as Flight International & Aviation & Space Week and so bought myself a (then) newfangled digital camera, it was state of the art with a huge (for the time) 3MP sensor. I had some success selling landscape images through a stock library and started photographing people as well. Over time I started becoming more and more fed up with not being allowed to do my job in the MoD properly due to budget cut backs or a lack of top down planning so when my job was moved and was unable to move with it, effectively making myself redundant, I wasn't too upset. After looking at other jobs I decided to go freelance, as a coder, consultant and photographer. Quite quickly I found that I was spending all my time on photography so concentrated just on that.

The photography has been reasonably successful, I'm still doing it some 6 years after starting as a freelance. I've been published in Elle Magazine and on the Vogue Italia website alongside numerous other print (as opposed to just digital) magazines. I've been a commercial photographer for Cambridge Council and Milton Keynes Theatre amongst others and shot with numerous clothes, jewellery and accessory designers. I've shot for charities and small businesses and been lucky enough to work with many stunning models. I've also sold prints and exhibited in galleries. I've worked with children and animals, bands and performers, burlesque dancers and reenactors, there is always something different.

I found myself quickly concentrating on vintage/retro inspired pin up, something I'd always loved (born in the wrong era) and found plenty of wonderful models who also loved vintage pin up, to work with. Together with one of those models I set up Pinupzania and we started attending cons. The first event where we had a stall was the London Film & Comic Con where we created quite a stir as we had a good few girls wandering around in either latex cosplay or else just vintage pin up underwear. Both I, and the girls loved it and we became a regular fixture at LFCC. 

Gradually we found ourselves selling comic/fantasy related jewellery and accessories and cosplay inspired prints so felt that we needed a better brand than Pinupzania as we no longer just cover pin up. Hence Geekzania was born.

We now cover Cosplay & Fantasy photography, both at cons and standalone shoots, we create original characters as well for our shoots. Our website will be featuring cosplay costume and accessory tutorials, tutorials on creating your own computer games, photo galleries, features on people within the 'scene' and creators, artists etc. and we also design and produce our own range of exclusive and original t-shirts.

You'll see us at many more cons than just LFCC this year and in future and who knows where we can go from here!!

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