Taking a photograph – An interview with Christopher Sherman

How do you go from photographing Barbies in your backyard to becoming one of the most inspiring photographers and creative directors today? Christopher Sherman knows how to. Living in New York and Toronto, he is making skin come to life in his 35mm shots and can count some of the top names as part of his collaborations in the past 15 years.

KB: What was your first contact with a camera? How did photography come about for you?

Christopher: The first camera I ever owned and used came from a McDonalds Happy Meal in the 90s. I remember my sister and I would dress up her Barbies for hours and do crazy photoshoots in the backyard with them. I came from a very creative family so photography was just one medium that was always encouraged along with writing, painting and performing. My parents always encouraged both my sister and I to be creative and explore creativity.

KB: You choose to shoot film over digital. How do you explain this decision?

Christopher: There is nothing like the texture and noise found in a 35mm photo. Each time I get a roll developed you never really know what you are going to get between dust or light flares or just general fuck ups. When you are shooting with film it is truly a collaboration between you and the camera – it has a mind of its own. With all the technology in the world digital photos never look like film – no matter how many filters you apply to an image.

KB: When I look at your pictures, at least to me, the people’s skin really sticks out, it makes the photographs so alive! Is it equally important to you? What is important to you in a photograph?

Christopher: Before I ever take one frame of film on a subject I spend a long time talking. My purpose and priority is to take the most honest picture of that person and capture a collaboration between myself and the subject. Each subject often self directs themselves – whether clothed or nude each model takes me on a journey of how they feel they should be captured.

KB: You move between New York and Toronto. How different are they in terms of inspiration for you?

Christopher: Toronto is my home. I have such affection for the city. The art coming out of Toronto is incredible. The artists coming out of Toronto are incredible. There is still a sense of innovation happening in Toronto that has been incredibly inspiring for me. New York is New York. You have different access to the world there. The people, the ideas and the image makers are all there. Every time I ride in from the airport and see that skyline I feel a sense of excitement. I will also let you in on a little secret – New York is full of Canadians making their magic in the big city.

When it comes to photographing subjects – mostly men. New York and Toronto are home to some incredible characters. Each city breeds their own type of human but I would have to admit I am in a three-way relationship with Toronto and New York.

KB: What type of person are you looking for to photograph? And what type of person would you hate to photograph?

Christopher: Taking a photograph of someone is truly a privilege. I do not take it for granted. My subjects bounce between Hustlers and Supermodels, Porn Stars and Authors – in all of these collaborations there are people who have a confidence in their own self. A quiet confidence in exploring photography and creating work with me.

KB: Are you working on something specific right now? What would you like to do next?

Christopher: Coming up next is my first gallery show in New York and Toronto and my first book – what you can expect is lots of never before seen dicks from around the world.

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