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Art September, 7 2010

Curated Q&A | Photographer Christopher Read

Based in London, Christopher Read has produced films and taken photographs for the likes of Audi, BBC and Genesis Bikes. Having enjoyed a few of his commercial pieces, approaching Read to provide some personal images to share on the site was only natural. He shares an interest in the grime scene, and in his black and white portraits reflects the tight spaces and gritty locations from which the genre builds.

Aside from offering images, Read also answered a few questions. Our Q&A and more photographs after the jump.

What inspired you to pursue photography and film? Did you study or train
anywhere particular?

I’ve always taken photos and enjoyed photography but it wasn’t until about 15/16 that I started watching bmx videos and really being inspired by the cinematography. I studied at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee film school focusing on photography and 16mm moving image which was a great experience and having access to Bolex H16′s and a proper lab made things achievable, plus the attitude at universities in north america is so different to in the UK, the pressure is really on over there to deliver.

I’ve done various short courses on editing, art direction etc. Education is great and I learned a lot but to be honest, if you want to be a photographer/film maker, just get a camera and go shoot.

How did you come to your preferred subject matter?

I’m doing lots of things in the Grime scene at the moment. As a scene its been pretty well documented so I’m not really doing anything groundbreaking in that sense, for me its about documenting a subculture but with the highest production values I can offer. I got respect for anyone doing their thing but if I’m going to shoot something I want it to look as clean as possible. Grime has so much energy and its all about performance so you point a camera at anything and it’s liable to look good.

Street culture and people that live on the fringes of society are what interest me so my continued work for Hypebeast plus other brands really allows me to work on stuff I’m interested in.

I like taking photos of chicks as well but that’s a whole another story..

I suppose you shoot what you like because you like it and if you’re lucky people see it and get you in to do things for them. That’s how I’ve found it.

Who inspires you?

Wow, well to start, Alex Rankin and Milan Spasic made a video series called Sprung back in the day and I think it was after seeing Sprung 3 that I thought, yeah that’s me, I want to be a film maker. I mean apart from that, I know its an old cliche but I’m inspired by anyone making a living from doing what they love. It’s hard and competitive in whatever field you are in so for those making it I got a lot of respect.

Tell us why Arsenal is the best.

Haha, Arsenal just have dignity, the club is run with class and is proper from top to bottom. Plus we got the Prof leading the way so even though we haven’t been laden with trophies the past few years, I think most Arsenal fans can see that its on its way. To be able to build a stadium of that caliber, in London, just next to the old stadium, under budget and before deadline is a serious achievement, and a testament to how well the club is managed.

What are your goals for your personal projects, and what have you learned
from commercial work?

I’m shooting a photo project at Arsenal actually at the moment but I can’t talk too much on that. Plus the site I co-run with some friends, Hotoneten is going to have some tweeks and changes which I think will really enhance things for us. In regards to film, you got to wait and see I’m afraid as I haven’t had clearance to open my big mouth on anything quite yet.

Commercial jobs are good in the sense it really makes you appreciate the importance of being technically proficient in your field. I’d never done a time lapse before Audi asked me to do one for the launch of the A1, which is nerve racking at the time but once you’ve researched and tested it, it serves as another tool you can use in your creative and personal work. It’s a great training field.

Finally, what do you shoot with?

Without revealing too much, a Canon DSLR [not a 7d..], plus some rangefinders from contax, rollei, some polaroid cams and a selection of other things. Got about 8 cameras, moving image and still kicking around in my studio.

Final shout outs to all the people that have employed me, supported me, hooked me up with free trainers,Tom Stinger, Josh Mg, Jonny Erazo, Jason Ciafrone, Ryan O’malley, Corinne Yaya and everyone else you know who you are.

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