Stephen Gittins is all about making things happen. "If you're not doing what you want to be doing, you need to create the opportunities," he says. "You have to instill motivation in yourself to push forward and find what you're looking for."
Gittins owns Capture12, a business that started out in 2012 as a photography workshop and has slowly morphed into a multi-functional teaching and exhibition endeavor now nestled in the heart of Roosevelt Row. Earlier this summer, Gittins relocated Capture12 from a back room in MonOrchid to a piece of prime real estate just west of Eye Lounge.
"Being right on Roosevelt Row is great," says Gittin. "It really is a prime space."
Last month's First Friday opening, featuring a series of photos by Abigail Lynch, proved this to be true. Gittins says the gallery was packed.
Curating a gallery is a new endeavor for Gittins, who still finds time to make his own photographs when he's not too busy teaching workshops.
"I'm excited about the prospects but also a bit apprehensive," he says. "Curating is like being a performer. The work needs to be of a quality and of a standard that engages people."
Luckily, Gittins certainly doesn't lack the ability to identify good work. After receiving an undergraduate degree in documentary photography from his hometown in Wales, he came to ASU to get his master's degree.
He talks about the differences in art culture in Phoenix versus his hometown of Newport. "This is a luxury," he says, referring to the amount of galleries downtown.
But some aspects of owning a business have been less than ideal. Prior to venturing into photography, Gittins owned a billiards hall back in the UK. "I don't think I would be able to do what I'm doing if I hadn't gained the knowledge from owning a business before," he says. "But there are still challenges to starting a business in a different country."
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Still, Gittins remains optimistic. In addition to this new curating venture, he continues to teach workshops at Capture12 and to practice documentary photography with a group called the C12 Collective (they have a show opening at the Shemer Art Center in January of next year).
"I enjoy certain parts of all of the aspects of Capture12, but this space really gave me the incentive to keep doing what I'm doing," he says. "Ultimately, I'm interested in creating a space for the photographic community."