Adrian Steirn is a leading photographer and filmmaker based in Cape Town, South Africa.
He first visited the country at the age of six, and after a number of subsequent visits, made Cape Town his home in 2008.
Success quickly followed: Steirn has been the photographer-in-residence for WWF South Africa since March 2011 and is an ambassador for Mercedes-Benz, Nikon, Lowepro and Gitzo. In 2010, he was named Photographer of the Year at the Africa Photographic Awards, winning the portrait and fashion categories at the same time. He was named the Nikon Africa Professional Photographer of the Year in 2009.
Story is central to Steirn’s work: his photographs and films are driven by narrative, relating the stories of the people and wildlife that he encounters. He has taken portraits of individuals as diverse and influential as Thandie Newton, Bill Gates and Nelson Mandela, and in 2011 documented the final two weeks of British Labour Strategist Phillip Gould’s life. Steirn directed a short documentary titled 'When I Die: Lessons from the Death Zone' that showed Gould coming to terms with terminal cancer, and photographed Gould standing on his own grave prior to his death. The resulting portrait is on permanent display at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Steirn is the founder and director of Ginkgo Agency, a content company based in Cape Town, South Africa. He recently unveiled 21 Icons, his most ambitious project to date: a film and photographic celebration of individuals who have achieved at the highest level in their vocations, while giving back to their communities. The project was inspired by Nelson Mandela, and the first series – featuring South African icons – launched in July 2013 with Mandela’s portrait.
Steirn is the resident photographer for Singita game reserves, and has travelled all over Africa documenting its people and wildlife: from Ghana and Uganda to Tanzania and Zimbabwe. He has photographed tigers in Nepal, and has created a series of short documentary films set in Azerbaijan, documenting its people and culture. Additionally, a long-form documentary investigating the state of the critically-endangered Caucasian leopard population in the country is currently in production.
Renowned South African artist William Kentridge says of the photographer’s work, “Adrian Steirn’s photographs have an inventiveness and wit. He is able both to perceive unusual perspectives on his subjects and - vital for a portraitist - is able to convince his subject to participate in his exploration. Together with this, he brings a technical mastery that is tested to its limits by his perfectionism.”