Stefan Kleinowitz was born in Austria and grew up in Vienna. Before entering university, he decided to travel and explore the world, an experience that would have a profound effect upon his photography. During his travels, he was intrigued by the depth and breadth of the cultural differences he discovered, and by the norms and values which seemed in such stark contrast to those absorbed in his early life in the Austrian Alps.
In a photographic genre that is often characterised by harsh realism, Stefan’s work stands out for its sense of curiosity and amazement. This is evident, for example, in his provocative photographs of the everyday lives of marginalised communities and the young musicians and artists they produce. Ethiopia, Kenya, Japan, Jamaica, Haiti, South Africa, Mozambique and Brazil all became more than just places on a map or names on a young explorer’s list. His need to understand the communities he discovered on his travels, and what it meant to be human in both contemporary and earlier societies led him to a study of sociology and cultural anthropology. In 2013, he left Imperial College London with a Master's Degree in Public Health and Epidemiology.
It was his love for photography that helped him find his life's purpose. The camera became his most important tool of expression, and led him to develop his technical skills further with courses in photography at the Arts University of Bournemouth. It was, however, while participating in a street photography workshop in Miami that he found the clarity of place and purpose necessary for any young artist seeking to discover a niche in his chosen profession. The event, hosted by Maggie Steber, and Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb, provided him with the personal growth required to relate his unique photographer's perspective to the well-worn topics of social ills.
In a world desensitised by a constant barrage of shocking images, Stefan’s photography offers people respite from an unrelenting exposure to misery and suffering. In his intimate portraits of street children and former juvenile prisoners in Sierra Leone, he provides a reason to linger. His photographs declare that we have more in common as human beings than the superficial differences in our circumstances would suggest. Stefan's work is a delicate mixture of candid photography and planned portraiture. It is a work of patience in which he waits to capture that intimate moment in the everyday lives of his subjects when they let down their guard and reveal their humanity.
His portraits received acclaim at the International Festival of Photo-Journalism VISA in 2016. BJP-online published his photo essays on the Calais refugee camp in France and former street children in Sierra Leone. It is Stefan’s intention that by bringing people into focus, places in Africa and elsewhere can move past a negative narrative and into a future filled with hope. He is based in Johannesburg where he continues to work on personal projects and commissions, taking photographs that remind us of our shared humanity.