The Photographic Journal Interview (Excerpt): Shelbie Dimond

I’ve noticed a narrative feeling in a lot of your recent work. Do you have a story in your head when you’re shooting work like that? Or does it come out more once you’ve got it all back home?

It can go either way. I find that when I try to shoot with a story already in my head, the photos sometimes turn out looking really forced. My best shots, in my opinion, where taken when the shoot was more or less done by “winging it”. I usually always have a general idea for the mood and styling, but not necessarily an exact narrative.

More “trusting your instincts”, rather than coming in with an exact photo you want.

Yes exactly.

Have you always trusted your instincts in that way?

I guess you could say that. It definitely started out that way, and then there was a time when I would be really dead set on a shot I wanted, and I’d try and try and try to get it, only to come away from the shoot feeling exhausted and angry that I wasted so much film. Trial and error is what taught me to trust my gut in the end.

What’s a shoot for you like, nowadays? How do you interact with your subjects?

My favorite shoots are shoots with people who I know and inspire me. Those are the easiest. I find it challenging sometimes to find a model online whom I’ve never met, set a date 3 weeks out, and have only 3 hours set aside to shoot with them. I’m finding it’s really a hit or miss. My last couple of shoots have been successful in that I really hit it off with my models (and MUA’s). We put on some music, and go where the light is nice. I usually let the model start things off, and depending on how that goes I may or may not pose them myself.

Is there a lot of conversation involved?
Most definitely. It’s imperative that I have a connection with my subjects or else the images look very contrived. Also having a bunny around really helps loosen people up. Who doesn’t love a bunny?

Nobody I know. What kind of people inspire you? Is it more difficult with models you don’t know because they don’t evoke that kind of feeling in you, because that’s necessary for you to really be engaged in the shoot?

Genuine people inspire me. I think that’s the broadest way to describe people that inspire me. Honest, soulful, driven, weird…

And yes.

Would you say photography’s cathartic for you? Is it more about you showing others this feeling of nostalgia, or evoking it in yourself?

Absolutely. I don’t know how else to keep that part of me alive. And I’d say both – starting with myself and then showing others.

(Read the full interview on The Photographic Journal here)