Sunday, July 25, 2010

Exclusive! Spotlight On Les Sterling

Yes, readers...the time has come to see a little more of Chris Craig (the model in the banner), and learn more about the man that took his photograph.

Les Sterling is a Seattle based photographer who, in his own words, is "not a "fashion" photographer. I'm an artist and experimental filmmaker."

Looking through his portfolio, anyone could see that he is absolutely right. You won't find any typically fashion-y photographs; you'll find beautiful, captivating images, but nothing that comes off as "typical."

I had the chance to reach out to Les and ask him some more questions about himself and his artistry. He graciously agreed, AND shared some exclusive images with The Lisp.

When did you know that photography was your calling?

In school, when I was 9, I got to participate in a small class that studied photography. We made pinhole cameras out of oatmeal canisters, and I kinda fell in love. We experimented with black and white 110 film, back when they actually made it, and the darkroom was an amazing place for my young brain. I loved it. I loved the mechanics of taking a photo, then printing the image, and I decided that every time I got to do any sort of independent study kind of thing, I would make it photography. Over time, as I learned more about the mechanics of photography and the creative part of art in general, and I knew I wanted to be there. Fashion and “model” photography never really appealed to me – I was drawn more to the beautiful simplicity of the body itself. I’ve often said that for me, the image is more about creating a sculpture out of people, then I just photograph the result. That’s why I started building the clothes and props myself, as much as possible for models instead of using clothes with massive logos or anything on them.

What was the first picture that you took that stood out from the norm?

It was a photo that I took in college (1993?) of a friend of mine walking on a VERY high wall in Kansas City overlooking the highway. I really fell in love with the photo – it was the first time I’d really taken a photo out of proportion and played with the concept of depth and space in that “mindfuck” sort of way.

My photo instructor told me about a student contest that Nikon was sponsoring with some photo magazine, and she encouraged me to enter it. So, I sent it with a couple other photos, and it ended up winning an award.

What “growing pains” did you experience?

When I really started out in the mid 90’s, it was just before digital really took over the world. So, as I was really hitting some creative strides with film, digital exploded. And there was a MASSIVE onslaught of so-called “photographers” that entered the art world. In a weird way, it ended up being a huge blessing, because these dilettante artists made my work look better by comparison. The availability of good cameras at a decent price aren’t going to help without skill or technique, though. The biggest pain is just learning new technology as it rolls at me. Which, ultimately, ends up being a lot of fun.

What photograph put you “on the map?"

It was a black and white photo of a model named Andrei. When I lived in Chicago, I met him. He was in medical school, and completely new to the modeling world – that really appealed to me. Professional “models” are great, don’t get me wrong. But when I work with someone who isn’t a “model” in the professional sense, but has a great sense of their own body, it’s a perfect creative storm. The photos from Andrei’s shoot sat on a shelf for a year or so, then I moved to Seattle and exhibited it in a group show, and it sold 5 minutes after it opened. Since then, it is my most sold, most commented-on photo. And now, Andrei is doing more professional modeling, has never looked better, and as far as I know is practicing medicine.

I'm always interested in the beginnings of an artist. The idea of seeing their first pieces of work and the progression from there. Hopefully, seeing an artist develop a signature style and the ability to always be inspired.

I'll have more about Les Sterling in just a few days. He talks about his influences, dream subjects, and the picture he wishes he took. I'll also be sharing an exclusive look at Les' current project, Bondage & Ballet.

But first, enjoy a little more of Les' work with Chris.

"I’m a huge fan of Warhol superstar Joe D’Allesandro, and when I had Chris Craig in the studio, we stumbled upon this little photographic homage."


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you better make this good.


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