Chris Harrison er opprinnelig frå Jarrow i England, men bur no i eit lite, gult hus i skogkanten ikkje så langt ifrå Oslo. Han jobber som kommersiell fotograf, med kundar som Kiwi, SAS, Ikea, NSB og mange, mange fleire. Han jobber også med personlige prosjekt, den verkeleg store lidenskapen. Prosjektene har ofte en nær, personlig tematikk. Som det siste prosjektet hans, Copper Horses, der han utforsker forholdet til far sin.

Chris Harrison, bilder nordic school of photography, fotoskole, bnsop, intervju

Foto: Chris Harrison

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Foto: Chris Harrison
Foto: Chris Harrison
Foto: Chris Harrison

How did you become a photographer?

I became a photographer because… ehm, I couldn’t do anything else at art school(laughs). Luckily for me I actually had a real talent for photography as well, which was really lovely.

I kind of fell into photography, I was gonna be a graphic designer or something like that. At the end of the first year when you got your exams they kinda took me to one side and said ‘you should do the photography course’. Not because I was showing any great progress at that point in time, but because it was the only one I had any remote chance of passing.

So then I did a year of photography, and I was lucky to meet a really inspiring teacher, who really encouraged me. I ended up doing a degree in photography, and at that point I knew I wanted to be a photographer, there were no second thoughts.

How do you balance your personal work and your commercial work?

It’s just something you do really. Sometimes you have to make a conscious decision to say no to commercial jobs. Other times you have to think that “I can’t go and do that element of my personal project because I really need to make money to pay for it.”

I’ve been lucky in a way, that the biggest problem is the commercial work starting to take over. That’s the real problem. Working as a commercial photographer you end up having to keep a lot of equipment, equipment costs, the more equipment you have the more money you need to pay for it. You kind of get sucked in a bit as a photographer, to live in a certain way.

So the balance comes in trying to work with a few people that you don’t have to stress yourself with, and at the same time get new clients without stretching yourself too far, so that you end up having to have a full time assistant and a really expensive studio, and so on and so forth. The balance is all about the money-making side, so that you don’t end up going too far into it.

 

Chris Harrison
Chris Harrison

What is your process in choosing a new personal project?
I have several projects in my head at any one time, that I’d like to do, and I’m just hoping that I live long enough to get through them all. The project about my father, Copper Horses, I had been thinking about for twelve years before I finally got around to actually shoot it, and got the opportunity to shoot it. I’ve got another couple of projects that I want to do now, and another project I want to kind of revisit.

These ideas often come when watching a film or talking to someone, and just getting a slight flash of inspiration. As soon as that happens, I write it down and have a quick think about it. Then I will think, “OK, how can I actually do that”.

On the one side it is getting easier to do that, to do the thinking bit, and harder to do the practical bit afterwards. Because you know, I’ve got two children and I’m kind of more aware of the difficulties now, but I’m better able to deal with them. I’m kind of in a funny place at the moment.

 

Not giving up is really useful. You’re gonna get knocked back, you’re gonna get rejected, you’re gonna get told you’re not good enough, and you just have to keep getting back into the fight.

What do you think makes you a successful photographer?

(Laughs) Well, am I?

I think there are a couple of things. I’m really committed to the medium, and every other successful photographer I know – in whatever term you wanna describe success – is really hard working, and really committed to the medium in their own way. They’re real nerds about the whole thing, really geeky. I think it’s that, really. I love photography, and I think about it all the time. I think about my work all the time, and I work really hard. I get up in the morning, and I go to work. That’s really the key, for you to stand out. Get up every morning and get to work, unless it’s a public holiday, and even then maybe go to work as well.

The thing is that there is no guarantee of success, and success has to be on your own terms. I have a friend in America who’s a really famous and successful commercial Photographer. He has two studios, one on the east coast and one on the west coast, and he flies between coasts to do jobs. Million dollar budgets and stuff. He’s very successful, but I have a different level of success. I don’t want his life, you know. He doesn’t want what I’ve got, he likes where he’s at. So we’re both successful, but in our own ways.

Not giving up is really useful. You’re gonna get knocked back, you’re gonna get rejected, you’re gonna get told you’re not good enough, and you just have to keep getting back into the fight.

What is your best advice to young photographers?

There are a few things, I guess.

Really learn about your medium, really understand the language of photography and the photohistory. It is a medium with it’s own history, it’s been 160 years of people taking pictures at a really high level, and you should know that – you should know who they are. Learn from them and what they have done.

Don’t give in when stuff doesn’t go right. Learn from the mistakes you make.

Have good people around you.

That’s kind of the best advice I can give(laughs).

 

For å sjå meir av Chris sitt arbeid, sjekk ut heimesida hans: www.Chrisharrison.no

All pictures © Chris Harrison

 

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