Fstoppers Interviews Photographer Cameron Davis (NSFW)

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Cameron Davis is a photographer, cinematographer and creative director based in New York. Growing up in Southern California, Cameron has developed a style that blends East Coast with West Coast, adding in flavors of London and Paris. Focusing primarily on shooting editorial fashion imagery, Cameron's work has been published in treats!, GQ Italia, Fault and S Magazine.

Can you tell us about yourself and your photographic background?Well, my name is Cameron Davis. I'm originally from Southern California, and now I live in New York City. I've been shooting professionally for about 10 years now. I started right after I finished high school, transitioning into college.

What got you started in photography?What got me started honestly was pure boredom. During the summer before college, I was bored. I thought I was going to go crazy with how bored I was. One day, I was on BestBuy.com and randomly clicked into the camera section and boom! A light-bulb clicked on and a little voice in my head said, "Buy a camera. You have nothing else to do." So I bought the camera - which was a piece of shit! I knew nothing about cameras and thought it was good. Anyways, I bought the camera online and headed down to Best Buy to pick it up.

What kind of gear would we find in your bag?You'll usually find my Canon, a couple of lenses, a ton of disposable cameras (I do about 50% of my shooting with those disposables from CVS) and a magazine or two for inspiration.

Do you prefer strobes or natural light if so what kind?I use natural light as much as possible. I'd say that would account for about 90% of my work. I use strobes here and there and as needed (for the idea and look we are trying to go for). As far as outside shooting goes, I don't use any modifiers at all. Everything is done in camera.

Where do you find the majority of your inspiration?Most of my inspiration comes from cinema, to be honest, and a handful of my photographer peers who are out there killing the game.

What is your mental checklist before a shoot?Firstly, making sure everyone shows up. Once I know that's good, it's a matter of making sure I have my flash cards (I have forgotten those a few times). Other than that, I try to touch base with everyone who's involved with the shoot to see how they are feeling about everything. The energy on set is really important, so I try and make sure everyone is feeling good and ready to shoot!

What is your thought process for location scouting? When shooting studio, how do you approach it differently?When it comes down to location, I try to look for places that will make for interesting backgrounds. I like texture, so I'm looking for texture - things that have tremendous details that provide a nice contrast to help emphasize what I'm shooting. With the studio - since I use mostly natural light - I'm looking for how well the light hits the body and what types of shadows it creates on the face.

What is your favorite subject to shoot?Everything. I really don't have a favorite anymore. I shoot women, men, architecture and anything else that I think is dope!

Can you take us though your workflow from shoot to post?I don't really have a flow.

What is your favorite thing to shoot for yourself?I actually like shooting landscapes. It's not landscape in the traditional sense, but it does have those elements in it. Check out the section on my website called "New York Times" and you'll understand.

What do you do on your down time?I like to spend time hanging with my friends, creating new adventures and experiencing life.

What has been your most memorable moment in your career so far?I can't really point to specific moment, because there have been a lot of memorable moment's and new one's are being created everyday. As to what image I think was a breakthrough image, I would say I think it has to be my shoot with Chanelle Elise. I shot her simply, in black and white, in a YSL fur coat and some dark Levi jeans. Those images really opened me up to the fashion market.

Do you have a preference of shooting still or video and what are the strengths and weaknesses of each?Stills are great, because they can be edited. Video you can do a lot with in post - even more than I photograph I would say. Videos capture everything as is, so things need to be perfect, because there is no going back.

How spontaneous is the process for you? Do you do a tremendous amount of pre-planning or prefer feel it out on the day?It's a combination of both. Sometimes I'll totally freeform a shoot, and other times I'll plan like crazy. It just depends on the idea... the idea dictates everything.

Can you explain the expressions or emotions that you are looking to capture or present in your images?I'm looking for feelings of longing, nostalgia and sometimes I'm looking things that are more sensual... I'm looking for that feeling of love.

How important of a role does post production play in your work?It used to play a big role, but as I got better and better with my camera, I've learned, over the years, to minimize postproduction by trying to get everything in camera.

What is the one thing you wish you had more of in your work?More detail.

What is the one thing you wish you had less of?Less grain.

What defines the decisive moment of your photographs?It's just a feeling you have. There is no specific point through the process where I say, "Hey, it's time to click the button." It just comes down to feelings. If it feels right, then I start clicking away - that's my decisive moment.

View more of Cameron's work on his website, and follow him on Tumblr.

 
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9 Comments

Please, this is not really an interview, it's a questionnaire. There are so much interesting things Cameron said, but not a single of your questions is somehow related to his answers. He's doing his professional shootings with disposable cameras? Well interesting, but why and how? He doesn't like grain? Well, why shot with disposable cameras then?

Ill admit, i didnt really read any of the post. Well, i read the first few lines and then lost interest.

All i can say is that it looks exactly like he shoots with a disposable camera. And thats it... Its this same "scenester retro poloroid style" shooting thats around lately....

Well done to anybody that makes something of themselves shooting this style though, convincing your a edgy fashion photographer with a back pack full of £1 disposable cameras.

The problem with photography in this day and age is people hate on other for creating work that is aesthetically pleasing to them. Photography for real photographers is not about money, so they shouldn't care how much the camera costs or how much return they get as long as it gives them the ability to create what they want.

I would rather see somebody running around with a box brownie strapped around their neck that is riddled with light leaks and a general electrics light meter in their hand than somebody holding a H4D who forgets to take the lens cap off.

Personally i would rather see neither of those things...

If the images are personal for the "photographer" then thats a complete separate issue. They hold meaning and are sentimental to them, so again thats completely fine. Nobody is argueing against that point.

However as soon as you add the images online, they're immediately open to critique by the whole world. It may not be aesthetically pleasing to everybody as photography is subjective. However having a minimum "standard" or "industry standard" of work for Fashion Magazines etc should be brought into consideration.

The standard is subjective too. These images work because they evoke action, either, to pick up and buy the magazine or to buy the clothing they are selling. Fashion has 80's undertones at the moment for a lot of its advertising and the demographic it aims at, being hipsters, or at least something of the sort, want throw backs to the out of date, faded Polaroids and grungy unkempt subjects.

With that in mind, I think these images hit the mark for what this genre of fashion wants.

Haters gonna hate :D

Thi is basically the "YOLO" of an argument. Means nothing, hold no weight...

hmmm....scopophilic at best. Its fun work, though. I dont care what camera he uses, though I do find it interesting that there isn't much of a reason given for using those cameras in the article, makes me think that he hasn't even thought of that question before, or how it could pertain to his practice. He sounds like some one who can afford to ignore craft aspects of making work and focus on the making of the pretty shiny things that sell pages in magazines. There doesn't seem to be a tremendous amount of depth to these images. What you see is what you get. Scantily clad seductresses posed to be attractive....end of story.

Does he need a reason for using these cameras? The reason these images sell is because they are aesthetically pleasing, portray emotion and fall within the interests of the demographic they sell to. Not everybody is into photographs of birds the same as not everybody is into "Scantily clad seductresses" that does not mean the photographs lack depth, they are just not your preference.