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Meet Chris Cherrie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Cherrie.

Hi Chris, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
My interest in photography first started back in high school. I had a video project for my Physics class but I didn’t own a camera so I borrowed one from our school’s yearbook supervisor. As I was using it, I enjoyed the experience and wanted to get one for myself. On my 17th birthday, I got my first point and shoot camera as a gift, the Nikon Coolpix p520 (which I still have). At the time, I ran on the track and cross country teams so I would bring my camera to meets and take pictures of my friends competing in events. For the next couple of years, I used the camera for shooting stuff for fun but also for class projects. In 2016, I took my first formal photography class at Towson University where I learned the history of photography, how to edit in Lightroom, and how to a shoot manual on a DSLR. At the time, I don’t think I fully understood everything though. I actually had to rent a DSLR from my school because I didn’t have one of my own yet. My professor also had a rule that we couldn’t shoot on campus which I understood but it sucked for me since I didn’t have a car on campus. I was limited to shooting in the nearby town or wherever the campus shuttles could take me. For the final, we had to do a project inspired by a specific photographer.

At the time, I didn’t know that many famous photographers but I did know I enjoyed street photography so I did some research and stumbled upon Thomas Leuthard. Leuthard took pictures focusing on everyday life which was something I could do well under the constraint of not having a car to go anywhere else. So I walked around uptown Towson, asking strangers to take their pictures as they went about their days. This was really when I started getting out of my shell and exploring street photography. In 2017, I got my first DSLR, the Nikon D5600 (also a gift). I would walk around campus taking pictures and, again, bringing the camera with me to events. In the spring of 2018, I started doing graduation shoots for friends and other students on campus which was my first time really getting paid consistently for photography. After I graduated in 2018, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do next. I wanted to improve my photography and started watching YouTube tutorials about shooting and editing. I happened to connect with an old friend who was selling a lens I wanted. He came by my house to make the exchange and I asked him how he was able to shoot with so many models. He told me about the photo meet scene in the area. The two big meet up groups being StreetMeet DC and Portrait Meet DC. I attended events for both groups and I loved it. I eventually ended up gravitating more towards StreetMeet and continued to make more friends and gain more experience shooting with models.

Over the next year, I continued shooting on the streets, at meets, and occasional paid gigs. 2019 was my most successful year when it came to photography. At the beginning of that year, I started getting into video, again shooting mostly at meets. I also started my YouTube channel where I posted some of my StreetMeet videos as well as short films and movie reviews. In fall of 2019, I bought the Nikon Z50 which was the first camera I bought with 100% of my own money. Unfortunately, everything came to a screeching halt in 2020 when the world went into lockdown because of the pandemic. In the previous year, I was able to balance my job and photography on the side. With everything transitioning to being virtual and the inability to go shoot outside, my day job essentially took over my life. Even though I wasn’t able to shoot a lot of new photos or videos, I was able to go back and use some of my old work to practice my editing which has really paid off. Even as things started to open back up, it became hard to plan anything because my work schedule was so inconsistent. Finally in April of 2021, I decided to resign with June 1st being my last day. Now I am getting back into freelancing doing photography and video out in the real world. For now, I’m planning on finding another full-time job but my hope is that someday in the future, I’ll be able to do photography and video work on my own full time.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
In terms of learning the craft and shooting for fun, It was more of a smooth road. Where I began to struggle was getting my foot in the door in the professional world. Between 2017 and 2018, I applied to a few photography related jobs and I got none of them. Two of them were assistant jobs working under an established photographer and in both cases, the photographer eventually ghosted me. In terms of getting clients, I started to have some momentum in 2019. I had a couple of regulars and they were recommending me to people they knew. In an alternate timeline, 2020 would’ve kept up that momentum. In 2021, it feels like I’m essentially starting from scratch building up my network. Something I am continuously working on is my rates for my work. Right now, I think I have them in a good place but the other challenge has been getting people to book. I get inquiries but they either say they can’t afford it or they ghost me. It gets discouraging but I know it’s a matter of finding the right clients and network to really get the business going.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Through my college education, I’ve become a jack of all trades. My major was Digital Art and Design so I’ve dabbled in photography, filmmaking, graphic design, and animation. Since I graduated, I have worked mostly with photography, video, and graphic design. In my photography, I really enjoy taking candid pictures especially on the streets. I also shoot a lot of portraits which I began doing a lot when I started attending the photo meets. In terms of style, I prefer to keep my edits as clean and natural as possible. I’m personally not a fan of heavy retouching which I think can go wrong quickly if the person editing isn’t careful. I like telling a story through my work where it’s possible. I also like to capture images of diverse subjects which reflect the community I grew up in. One of my favorite photo series that I’ve done is “Heroes Among Us” where I do a portrait with a model inspired by street-level superheroes like Green Arrow and Spider-Man. I hope to continue it soon.

Another series I’m proud of is “Tim vs. Wild” which was actually a spontaneous creation. The idea was to do a shoot in the same location, a forest in my area, every season with a different model but eventually it evolved into me shooting the same model every season. So far, we have winter, fall, and spring. This summer, we will be completing that series. It was interesting to see how much we both changed over the course of the series. To be honest, I don’t know if I could put into words what sets me apart from other photographers. I think that’s something I’m still trying to figure out as I continue to develop my style. As of right now, I would say what makes me stand out is that I don’t always follow trends and I try to give an honest, natural look at my subjects whether they are models or people on the streets. Actually something that I think that sets me apart from a lot of street photographers is that I actually ask permission to take a picture of someone especially if their face is going to be clearly visible. I see there are a lot of street photographers that run up on people or sneak shots from a distance. I see why but I don’t think that’s for me.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
The best ways to get in contact with me are through my website, my email, and my social media pages. I am open to collaboration especially if someone comes to me with a really cool idea. I would say if you can’t hire me, there are still ways to support what I do. The next best thing would be recommending me to other people. Word of mouth can go a long way. It also helps to share my posts on social media or watch my videos on YouTube. You can also connect with me at events like StreetMeet which I attend regularly. I am definitely working on putting myself out there more and making more meaningful connections post-lockdown.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
In the kicking pic, the model is Tim Stewart In the tattoo pic, the people are Sednah and Lordink Tattoo

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