His love for fashion and film led him to Senegal where he experienced art as an everyday lifestyle.
This young man from Kimberly in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa has cemented his name in front of and behind the camera and just as Midas would turn all things into gold, Trevor Stuurman turns all things African.
As a kid, Stuurman used to draw, then decided to explore photography, and further studied film.
In 2012, he was an Elle Style Reporter winner that launched his career in the fashion and photography world.
“That was my introduction into the publishing world,” Stuurman says in a phone conversation with me.
He has since gone on to show his work all over the world and over the years, been invited to photograph the best street style looks at Pitti Uomo (a trade event for menswear and men’s accessories) in Florence.
But no place in the world entices him quite the way Senegal does, he says. He visited the African country mid last year.
“I went to Senegal for the Dakar Fashion Week in June and I was able to connect with a lot of creatives and saw a lot of raw talent. I think being able to connect with talent and being able to create work and collaborate organically was one of the best experiences,” he says.
The first thing Stuurman noticed when he got to Senegal was how art is a part of their everyday life.
“When you go to Senegal, there is so much art around you that it becomes a lifestyle. Art is just a daily practice. It was beautiful to see it in an organic and an everyday fashion, where art is not overly thought out, where a painting is not to make a statement, but to just be a way of life. Art and dressing up is a daily practice.”
Stuurman visited Senegal for a week and recalls the French spoken around him; the Senegalese are far more receptive and warm, loving and giving of their time, he says.
“In terms of the fashion week, it was very interesting because of the format; it was one-of-a-kind. It has different venues and each day has a new narrative as opposed to the traditional fashion week. What I took from there is being able to celebrate each other’s differences as opposed to trying to find the commonality,” he recalls.
Stuurman is no stranger to celebrating differences and forging collaborations.
He has an honors degree in motion picture and live performance, and has co-directed a documentary Ubuhle Besintu on South African textile and knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo.
“The documentary was shot in 2013, and we were both still in Cape Town at the time. Trevor was a student then and he asked me to be a case study for his assignment,” remembers Ngxokolo.
“At the time, I used to often work alone in my work space. I was the jack of all trades in my company. I did everything from sales, to accounting and design, so it was very rare to have other people in my space,” Ngxokolo reflects. “I shared my journey and cultural outlook with him. I am Xhosa, so there are certain cultural practices he wasn’t aware of because he comes from a different background.”
Today, Stuurman works with record label Soulistic Music which has collaborated with globally-celebrated DJ Black Coffee.
The stable’s marketing manager, Neo Chabedi, who also manages Stuurman, tells FORBES AFRICA they have worked together for the past year.
“It’s been an eye-opening experience working with Trevor, it’s really just great to watch how creativity gets delivered and accepted through social media or a campaign he is working with, be it Absolut or being a photographer for Naomi Campbell. He is just an amazing, humble person,” Chabedi says.
Stuurman was also invited to speak at Oxford University on how he is reframing the African narrative, but that trip was not as memorable as Senegal.
Following his camera around the globe, Stuurman has also photographed former United States president Barack Obama at his ancestral home in Kenya.
For the 27-year-old lensman, the world is his everyday stage.