Interview #32: Chloe Scheffe


CUS: First of all, the most standard question in the book: how did you get into photography?

Chloe Scheffe: I've thought a lot about this question, and realized that I was aware of and interacting with photography on a very basic level long before I considered it an art form. As a junior in high school, I took a black and white film photography class, and then started the 365 Day Project the summer before my senior year. I still considered it a casual kind of supplement to my more serious focus as a graphic designer until August 2009, when I took it up for good.


CUS: Tell us a little about where you live.

CS: I live in Tacoma, Washington, about 40 minutes south of Seattle. It's totally gorgeous here--both the urban and the natural.


CUS: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

CS: I skipped breakfast. I don't generally condone skipping breakfast, but I got up late this morning.


CUS: What kind of camera do you enjoy using the most?

CS: My favorite camera is probably my mother's AE-1. It has a weight to it that is so satisfying, and I think a good roll of film is just unbeatable.


CUS: What is your most treasured possession?

CS: I'm unsure. I don't think I have a most treasured possession--though I am always fond of a good family photograph. Yeah, definitely.


CUS: Do you have a favorite subject you like to shoot? And why?

CS: People, always. Viewers instantly connect to a human subject and create a story for them, and the photograph takes on this new meaning far beyond what the photographer may have even intended. Portraits get viewers thinking.


CUS: What are some of your favorite films?

CS: The FallGood Will Hunting, Pride and PrejudiceEdward ScissorhandsThe NotebookHowl's Moving CastleStranger Than Fiction, um... I have the worst time thinking of my favorite things on the spot.


CUS: What did you want to be when you were a kid? Do you wish you could do that in the present? 

CS: In elementary school I wanted to be a cartoonist, then a marine biologist. I also went through phases of liking journalism and architecture, before I realized I was hopeless at math.


CUS: What is your favorite photograph that you've taken and the story behind it?

CS: This is such a tough question and I feel like the answer changes periodically. At the moment, I think my favorite image is from my recent series Voguespace. I love the soft focus, and the fact that my model blinked--it totally expresses the mood I was aiming for. 


CUS: What's the weirdest thing that's happened to you on a photo shoot?

CS: I once was shooting in a more dingy part of town and a cop drove by. He kind of slowed down as he passed us, and rolled down his window. My model and I looked at each other, thinking that maybe we were trespassing, or something else illegal. But he calls out, "Hey, are you a barista at Starbucks?" Yeah. He recognized me from my job in a completely different part of town.


CUS: Who, or what, is your biggest influence?

CS: My inspiration comes fully from what I see and hear around me. This includes but is not limited to: Grizzly Bear songs, street musicians downtown, window displays, magazines, more magazines, LandLand posters, sunshine, everything by The Small Stakes and Ray Fenwick, the 40 minutes of scenery on my commute to and from school, sunrises, sunsets, dandelions, chestnuts, latte art, Kanye West, Flickr photographers, “your Mom” jokes, The Book Cover Archive, the Heidelberg and Vandercook presses in my school’s basement, blogs, drawings of mustaches, the entire portfolio of Nigel Peake, anything by The Books, and cheap pizza.

Essentially, my eyes see something and my imagination does the rest.


CUS: What was the last movie you saw in the theatre?

CS: I believe it was Avatar, with my Dad and brother.


CUS: What are five things you can't live without?

CS: My family, my friends, my city, my education, and--to wrap up this deep, poetic answer--my computer.


CUS: Your dream photography equipment?

CS: At the moment I can't stop dreaming about a Canon 7D. An SLR with video capabilities would make me the happiest little graphic designer/photographer hybrid in Seattle.


CUS: What advice would you give your fellow up-and-coming photographers?

CS: Take pictures all the time, even when you don't feel like it! Bring your camera when you hang out with friends. Buy a film camera! Yeah, that's it. Get friendly with film, and you'll be good to go. 


CUS: Our last interviewee, Amber Ortolano, wants to know: What do you do when you get into a photography rut?

CS: I'm quite pathetic when I try to operate without inspiration. However, I've made it through ruts time and time again because I don't put my camera down for long. Heave a deep sigh and pick it back up. The first time you shoot an image you like after a dry spell, you'll be full of inspiration.


CUS: Last but not least, what would you like to ask our next interviewee?

CS: What is your least favorite TV show, and why?

Chloe Scheffe from Tacoma, Washington


Images provided by Chloe Scheffe. All rights reserved.