Guest Interview n° 17: Cameron Smith
You’ve been living in NY, LA, Paris and now London, but where are you from?
I’m Australifornian, but don’t hold it against me.
You probably didn’t like school very much as you left it at the age of 15. If you could turn back time, would you take the same decision?
Yes, I don’t regret it at all. I left home and got a job working at a web design company. This is definitely the internet era, so to get paid to learn and practice designing websites was kind of a perfect education.
Are you still a wasted kid?
I smoke crack for breakfast, but no. That’s kind a weird question.
What was the passage from skateboarding to photography?
They were both childish acts of rebellion. My parents didn’t let me skateboard and I never got given a camera, so I bought a skateboard when I was 14 and and kept it at my friends house and then started doing photography after I left home. Haha, being strict backfired for my parents.
Is there anything you have learned from the street?
Don’t get high on your own supply.
Which was the first shooting you’ve ever done?
I took snapshots and photos of my friends skating and wanted to be a photojournalist for ages, but decided to try out doing a ‘shoot’ with a model I knew named Tania. We drove down to this really beautiful granite quarry, which is right on the waterfront and has waves crashing on it and climbed on the rocks and took lots of photos and it was all really pretty and fun. Then, on the way back I followed a cop car down a side street and found a guy that had been stabbed with a huge kitchen knife in an act of random racial hatred and was bleeding to death, with the knife still stuck in his back. I shot a picture which was used in the national newspapers, but it made me realize that there’s something fucked up about rabidly trying to find scenes of violence and disaster, and then just taking a photo instead of helping. It was an epic day. I think I chose to be a fashion photographer that day.
Did videos and film making come naturally after photography for you?
Filmmaking and photography are the same thing fundamentally and they certainly serve the same purpose, which is to express and inspire and relate things. Obviously in film there’s sound and movement but fundamentally it’s the same. You can say more and fuck up easier in film, which is exciting.
Are you a blog addicted?
No, I od’d on blogs ages ago.
You publish The Interzine online, which is a place where you collect and store interesting contents from the web on art, music, fashion and culture. What was your first thought about it? “The only website you need”?
It was a really simple idea, to mash up all of the best blogs together. So you can go and look at www.theinterzine.com and see whats going on and whats cool. There was nothing like it at the time so I just made it in a couple days. Later, I heard that Jefferson Hack loved it, and then about 6 months later, he made ‘another reader’ and then pop magazine did their own version of it.
I think designing websites is fucking amazing in that you can use code to take an idea, and manifest it into something useful or fun or commercial and share it with the whole world. It’s magic I think. Like I love the story about the 17 year old russian kid that created chatroullette in 2 days and its the biggest thing on the internet this year. Magic. At the same time its disgusting how people are constantly connected to their machines. Get out and look at the world people! Burn your computers!
In your blogs you like to tell some of your private madness by taking pics. What connects all the shots?
I don’t try to force any connection, but it’s always me and my camera and the way I interact with people so there is natural continuity.
What kind of books do you read? Is there any literary inspiration in your pictures?
I like reading fiction. I like science fiction and fucked-up stuff a lot . I just got into listening to audiobooks because I feel like I’m already overusing my eyes and it lets me multitask, which is sad but everything is so frenetic and jacked these days because of the way are brains are conditioned by the internet. Otherwise it can take me ages to finish a book and I’m usually reading 3 at a time. The new yorkers fiction podcast is great.
( http://www.newyorker.com/online/podcasts/fiction ).
How much art is important in your way of living? In which ways does it affect you?
I love that art can inspire us and that it really has no function. It is an positive sign that humans have souls.
Do you see any possible evolutions in photography? Not only in the way it can be displayed, rather more in the way it will be acknowledged by people?
Yes, the way that digital photography and the internet made photography more accessible really is changing everything. I think its great, it means that photography is becoming better, and there are more beautiful images being made, and generally, it is raising the standard of photography in magazines. About 5 years ago one of the first editorials I shot was based on my blog. The editor, Isaac Lock, emailed me and was like, “I love your blog, how its so fresh and intimate and immediate. Lets do a shoot based on it”. It was new then, but now I’m a little tired of it. Like I feel that the whole snapshot, intimate type of photography has no value, whereas 30 odd years ago it was completely shocking and momentous that, for example, Nan Goldin would exhibit nude pictures of her husband and intimate photos of her tranny friends. It meant something then, but now it doesn’t.
What are your days like?
I live in the 18th arrondisement of Paris at the moment. I’ve been shooting or editing everyday, and partying every night. Paris is SOOOO fun! It’s summer now and its stays light until about 10:30pm here so I’m usually up really late and the noise of the street wakes me up early in the morning so I don’t really get much sleep ever.
What’s the first thing you think when you wake up?
I’m usually thinking about my dreams and what they’re saying to me. They’ve usually really vivid because my sleep is usually pretty irregular. This is really mundane, but if you want to know, last night in a dream, Nicola Formichetti told me “make a less jacked website and you’ll start making serious bucks”. Man, kinda weird to have Nicola in a dream but I appreciate the feedback.
What do you think you will be doing in the next 3 days? 3 months? 3 years? Not telling.
By Elisa Lusso – all images courtesy of Cemeron Smith