Interview: Photographer Canyon Schmerse
Where did your passion and adoption of photography begin?
My passion for photography began when I was a kid with one of those VTech cameras, literally a toy camera. I remember running around the house taking pictures of everything and anything. Initially I had an obsession with creativity, whether that was painting, drawing, and graphic design. But, in all honesty, I wasn’t good at any of that which frustrated the hell out of me! I wanted to be creative so badly, but felt so limited because I wasn’t even able to draw a neat looking stick figure. That’s when I began taking pictures, which I loved because it took the drawing out of creativity. I could create a world, emphasize an emotion, or capture a memory without having to pick up a pencil.
Initially I got on Instagram just because I was obsessed with the idea of sharing my memories with all of my friends. At the time I wasn’t even interested in portrait photography, but loved taking pictures in order to document a memory, most often times while traveling. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I began taking portraits of my friends, and only a little over a year ago since the first time I shot with a model. From there I just kept shooting as much as I could… and now I’m here!
Are there any concepts that inspire your work or that you draw inspiration from?
I gain so much inspiration from polaroids, which sounds odd but polaroids remind me of the true meaning of a photograph. These polaroids are tied with purpose and intent as well as capture stories and adventure with each shot. I’m obsessed with the tones and colors of polaroids but more importantly, the idea of the rawness captured on a polaroid. I’m currently trying to integrate this emotional value to my photographs, which will take time and is something I’m going to be constantly working on.
How has your life changed since being involved with photography?
My life now is VASTLY different then how it was a year ago. Prior to photography I just went to school, hung out with friends, and watched my fair share of Netflix. But now, photography has grown from just a hobby to my dream job and something I want to pursue my whole life. I now view life in a completely different perspective than I use to, and see the value and impact of photography within our everyday lives.
Anything that you wish people understood better about you and your work?
Something I want people to better understand about me and my work is WHY I do what I do. My goal since I began is to inspire others to get in touch with their creative side — yes even you. We all have a creative side, but sadly I don’t feel like many of us touch on. I use to never view myself creatively, but now it’s become something I exercise everyday! By expressing myself through art I have been able to get through so many personal trials and struggles as well as learned more about myself than I would have ever known. I hope others can see my work as an inspiration to go out and create, no matter how good or how bad, it’s all about expressing yourself.
What kinds of concepts and themes do you celebrate with your work the most?
As far as concepts and themes, I love to experiment with different ideas and styles for my images and shoots! In the past I have been obsessed with high fashioned styling or creative portraiture. My taste in photography has changed so much throughout time though, one day I’ll be planning a modern high fashioned shoot in the rain, and the next will be an 80’s fashioned lifestyle shoot.
What changes would you like to see in the photography community and why?
As I touched on before, something I want people to understand is that numbers DO NOT matter. Likes, comments, followers, etc. They mean nothing. Sure they can provide opportunities and work, but that shouldn’t be anyone’s main focus. I hope that the photography community can refocus on creating unique work, rather than basic work. This goes back to photography being a way for me to express yourself, and I hope others can see they being uniquely themselves is how to create amazing work.
What do you do to kick a creative block to the curb?
I take a step back, and go back to the basics. I go back to listening to music and scrolling through my Tumblr without trying to force ideas. One of the best things for me is to reach out to other creatives and talk to them! Some of my most unique work is created when me and the model collaborate on an idea.