We throw the spotlight up on photographer Chris Sessions who we’re featuring in our next issue. Check out our mini interview with him below.
When did you first start shooting?
I grew up in a creative environment. My mom is an artist and my dad has always taken a lot of pictures. He would put on great slide shows of the family, trips he’d taken, etc. I started shooting pictures with a point and shoot at a young age but got my first real camera, A Canon AE-1 Program, in 1994. It was a going away present from my dad when I first moved out to Colorado for college. I used it to document my journey and as a way to capture the new things surrounding me–my friends, excursions I took, interesting things I came across, etc. I took a couple photography classes in college and eventually centered my studies around fine art with an emphasis in photography.
What do you like about photography?
I enjoy being in the creative flow of discovery–when I find myself in a situation where I can casually observe and document beautiful, interesting and strange moments, people and places. I like when my mind is quiet and I don’t even have to try–I just act out of intuition.
What do you dislike?
It’s been an interesting evolution now that cameras have become so commonplace. With the technology and tools available, it seems like anyone can take a good picture. Having so much imagery everywhere demands a necessity to look more deeply and creatively in order to stand out. It takes a long time to develop a unique vision / discover that thing that you do best but it’s very important to have that sense of consistency throughout your body of work. It’s my job to give my images this personal, unique vision. It’s quite important to capture ‘the moment’ but quite often I find that there isn’t just one moment. There are several. It’s good to be present and open to different possibilities because often when you stick around long enough you’ll get something you might not have expected. Taking that picture can be done a number of ways and it’s good to push yourself when developing your style–from the camera or lens you use, the angle you choose, the way you frame it in the camera and in the way the image is edited afterwards.
What was the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
kiss: keep it simple stupid. There are many ways to do things, but often I’ve found that for me, it works best when I just keep it simple. Most of my best work happens when I bring one camera and one lens. It necessitates being creative. Getting out there and doing it every single day is the best way to learn. You’ll learn some great lessons along the way. I assisted other photographers to learn the business and technical lighting aspects–the real world necessities I hadn’t learned in art school. It is important to know the tools and techniques out there and choose the ones that will best suit your vision. ‘Know the rules so you can properly break them’ is another good guide. I think it’s good to look at other peoples work and to read biographies of other artists. Often they’ve often been down a similar path and can help you on your journey. Lastly, and most importantly, trust your intuition. It’s easy to be derailed by someone’s judgements about how something should be done, however, it’s best to do what you do for yourself. The passion you put into it will show through.
How do you feel about the future of images with thieves stealing photos without credit, so many images that get passed over, or everyone being a “photographer” etc etc.It’s a tough world as a photographer these days. It just necessitates creativity I suppose–as mentioned earlier–finding some unique perspective that you can share with the world and having the ability to adapt that vision whether you’re shooting a landscape, a portrait, or a picture of your dog, etc. It’s important to be consistent but it’s good to continue learning and pushing yourself too, discovering new things and widening your horizons as an artist. I started out as a photographer but have expanded into being a videographer/director as well and more recently I’ve started experimenting with sound design and music. Each of these tools has a place in my arsenal. In terms of image theft, I know there are photographers out there making a living out of people stealing their images. It’s a tough call. As a freelance artist, my work needs to be out there in people’s faces and on their mind. When I share images on social media, I usually try to have my logo on the image–because of how easy it is for someone to screen grab/repost with no map back to the original source.
If you have one, what would be your philosophy on life?
Life is short and full of surprises. It’s important to spend it doing something that you love. I’ve enjoyed documenting these moments so I’ll always be able to look back at them. I try to live in the present yet I’m always quite driven by nostalgia. I try to show gratitude when I can. As an artist, it’s important to be present about what I see and feel yet I find it important to challenge those notions too–leaving things open to chance in hopes of discovering some sort of happy accident. I’m very much a creature of habit by nature but find it’s important to take the ‘wrong’ way home or to do things differently because often times I’ll discover something amazing along the way. I always hope to put myself in a position to find inspiration. That’s a feeling you can’t beat.
What are your favorite kind of shoots?
I do a range of work–both commercial for clients and personal work for myself. I enjoy doing both for different reasons, but my favorite kind of work is when I have freedom to explore and express my vision, where there aren’t specific parameters I need stay within and I have freedom to look beyond the main objective. Often it’s what’s happening on the sidelines which is more interesting. That kind of open-endedness inspires creativity. I really enjoy commercial shoots where I’m hired to shoot my personal style.
Anything upcoming in 2014?
It’s been a long time coming, but I’m updating my website, www.chrissessions.com, with a collection of newer and older work I’ve amassed over the years. I’m continuing to shoot a series of documentary-style videos of different communities throughout the region for a bank. I enjoy these shoots because they get me on the road and traveling which always instills inspiration and opens things up to chance and possibility. Throughout life, I always have a camera with me and shoot as much as I can. I’ve got some fashion and beauty shoots coming up. Plus a lot of personal work too. Summertime in Colorado is always fun–skateboarders traveling through, swimming holes, county fairs, etc. Those are always a good time.
Where can we find your work?
facebook, twitter, insta?
www.chrissessions.com (update soon), http://chrissessions.