Her photos could of been shot in 1986, if it wasn’t for the occasional iPhone.
You’ve probably already heard of Chloe Sheppard. The 20 year old that has been featured in i-D magazine, shot for Nylon Japan, Rookie Mag and done an editorial for Adidas. She continues to be a pioneer for young female photographers in 2016, and I caught up with her to understand a bit more about her.
You’ve probably been asked this before, but let’s go from the beginning. How did you start taking photos?
It’s super cliche but I’ve literally had a camera with me for as long as I can remember. At school during breaks I’d always be taking pictures of my friends and myself, really just for fun. I liked the idea of always being able to look back on how carefree and stupid we all were. It wasn’t until a few years later I started really getting into photography and realising all the amazing things that cameras could do and I ended up incorporating photography pretty heavily into my art GCSE. Once I got to college and started learning about 35mm film, I was hooked and haven’t stopped shooting film since
I’d say it’s fair your known for a ‘dreamy, light and wistful’ aesthetic. I think that a lot of creatives, especially younger people, find it hard to create their own style within their work. Do you think there’s a trick to finding your ‘niche’ within an artistic medium?
I totally agree. I think mine came about because I was always so into other photographers and artists, I just never really thought myself capable of doing it. Through things I’d reblog on tumblr (back in 2010) I’d end up digesting aesthetics that I liked and then whenever I created work, those would come through unintentionally. I think to find your own, you have to look at your influences and what you’re into, and why you’re drawn to those certain things. For me, I fell in love with photographers like Petra Collins, Mayan Toledano & Baron Wolman and that was because the things in their photographs I felt were the things missing in my life. So photography for me eventually became a way to fill a void, and those things shape my aesthetic I guess. Jean-Luc Godard once said “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to”, which I love because when you’re starting out, sometimes it can feel like you’re just ripping off somebody else to an extent, but that’s crucial in finding your own style – being able to take what inspires you and purge it out into something else, something original.
So you were solely influenced by photographers?
No, also old movies and music too. Basically anything that evokes feelings in me. I always end up with a need to take those feelings and turn them into something productive
So now I want to ask you about photography in today’s day and age. In a time where most people carry around a camera in their pockets, Do you think the traditional idea of a ‘photographer’ is over?
I guess in some aspects yeah. I primarily shoot film, and sometimes when I post on Instagram, people will comment underneath saying ‘what app did you use for this effect?’, as if they can’t grasp that you can make things look good without the help of an iPhone or something. But I think it works both ways, for everything bad about social media and trying to be a creative in today’s day & age, there’s also plenty of good things. There’s more opportunities and it’s easier to reach out to people who you’d wanna shoot, so perhaps the idea of a photographer is just evolving.
So it’s something you could see yourself doing for a full time career? I know personally I’ve had to adapt the way I take my photos in order to maintain an efficient lifestyle (financially)
I really would love to do it as a full time career, but sometimes I’m not sure if I’m really cut out for it. It’s definitely a dream but I find it hard to see it as realistic sometimes when there is so much competition. I agree that to make a substantial amount of money from this you do have to change the way you shoot sometimes, and can’t always stay true to your visions, and it can totally take a toll on your conscience after a while. I see Facebook statuses sometimes from artist friends basically saying things like ‘do I throw my morals in the bin and shoot for *a certain company* or not be able to pay my rent this month?’ I think to survive as a young artist it’s something we all have to go through at some point.
So if you decided to switch route, where do you think you’d go? Do you have any other interests; creative or otherwise?
Another dream job of mine would be a music supervisor for TV shows/films, like choosing songs to fit with certain visuals and so on.
Keep an eye on Chloe. I’m excited to see what she has coming next, and you should be, too.
Check out i-D Exhibit x Chloe Sheppard in Berlin, until the 6th October.
Words by Milo Black
Photography Chloe Sheppard