Christopher Creese from a FisherPrice camera to working with worldwide brands
This week we’re talking to photographer and graphic designer Christopher Creese. We recently connected to him over Twitter, upon hearing about all the recent projects he had been working on. And as soon as we stumbled across his photos and learnt more about his story we knew that we had to feature Christopher on the blog.
His work ranges from brand development projects to multimedia work for a number of companies. He loves to use visual storytelling and recently helped The Black Upstart grow to over 28k followers on Instagram.
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Your about section on your site details how you started out with a small FisherPrice camera, what’s the story like between then and now? Any formal photography education?
When I was a kid, my mom’s coworker got me a FisherPrice camera for my birthday. I loved using it, looking through the viewfinder, pushing the buttons and taking it to the store to get my film developed.
It was fun and what I didn’t realise at the time was it allowed me to capture memories and create.
Through some journeying and a bit of chance, I now take photos with a professional camera. I never had any formal photography education, though understanding camera angles and lighting was part of my degree in Video Game Art & Design. Most of my education came online through content made by KaiMan Wong (formerly of DigitalRevTV).
Does any one bit of work you’ve done stand out amongst the rest?
Two shots stick out among the rest;
The Superior Donuts Cast Shot — I work with Jermaine a lot on different projects, and got to work with him as the cast were taping the pilot of the show. I got the privilege of taking this shot for the cast, and was able to nail it in one shot even with the differences in lighting between the set and the audience area, where I was shooting from. For me, it was a sign that I was in the right place and knew what I was doing.
Bryant Park/Times Square NYC — I was working another job and was in New York City for a month and a half. It gave me the opportunity to shoot in the city without a time limit of having to catch a bus right back to DC a few hours later. I ended up taking a vertical shot in black and white that I felt captured the Gotham feel of NYC perfectly; busy streets and bright lights at dark.
Has your approach to working with clients changed over the years?
I’ve gotten a lot more formal with clients. Making sure that I protect myself with well written contracts, knowing what my clients want and delivering that exactly as wanted, and honing my payment schedule so that the work that I do does get compensated for. For myself, it’s about building a good relationship with my clients, while respecting my services and time.
Would you say your use of Instagram and Twitter has been less personal as we’re all so connected and more to help brands see your style and personality?
I wouldn’t say my use of Twitter and Instagram has shifted to be less personal, as it has been to incorporate brands into my work. I could already be wearing, for instance, Levi’s jeans and shirts, so I might do a set of photos revolving around my favorite pairs, and then try to incorporate that in my presentation.
How important is having a strong portfolio and website as a photographer and graphic designer? Is there any advice you’d have for young creatives?
I think it’s more important to have a strong portfolio than a website, but just barely. I know creatives who don’t have “websites”, but just a page that links back to all their social media. I used to do mock-up designs to improve and sharpen my portfolio; now I do the same with photography taking shots of things I would like to shoot as personal projects. But since I really started, I always had a website. An Instagram or Twitter is not a website; it’s a platform to engage with people where they are and show your work.
Your website is yours. That’s where you control what shows up and how it works and how you want your work to be presented versus having it fit someone else’s platform.
For young creatives, I have three things to say.
- I would push them to be aware of their passions outside of their creative profession. For myself, I take inspiration from Japanese art/streetwear, so I bring that into my design work.
- Always get a contract. No questions. Protect yourself from trouble down the line by laying down everything in ink beforehand. This includes how long you’re going to work, for how much, and how many edits you are going to do, among other things. By clearly defining the project scope, both you and the client have a clear idea of what’s expected.
- Learn how to edit video. It’s becoming more and more critical to stand out to know to present yourself via video. It doesn’t have to be your main bread and butter skill, but it will pay off in the long run to know how to cut a few minutes of video together.
It’s been an absolute pleasure interviewing Christopher and we’re excited to stay in contact and hear what he comes out with soon.