“I try to be technical, my job is photographing paintings. I try to add my own view onto scenes that anyone can visit, not scenes that cannot be accessed by the public.”
Kris Graves (born in 1982) is an US-photogrpaher currently based in New York City. He holds a BFA in Photography from “School of Art and Design, Purchase College” (Purchase, New York).
Kris Graves creates photographs of landscapes and people to preserve memory. The images’ stillness cause the viewer to acknowledge the inevitability of change and the passage of time. These views will never be exactly as they were at their precise recorded moment. Graves suspends his belief and knowledge of this change, not to document a moment or state, but rather to sustain it.
Interview with Kris Graves
Kris, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
The Nikon F50, a 35mm camera with a shitty zoom lens. My parents bought it for me about a year after I said I wanted it, they thought it would be a phase. After they gave it to me, I would go on car trips with my mother; she is in sales and travels around the East Coast. When she was in meetings, I would walk around wherever and photograph.
Why did you become a photographer?
Because I am not very good at anything else, and didn’t feel like having a career in anything besides photography would work for me. I have no idea how I graduated from high school or college. Ha!
What does photography mean to you?
It means I get to live and share my experiences with whomever cares enough to watch.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
Gordon Parks. He is pretty much the first black photographer to make it, and I am in awe his career in and outside of photography. He is my Jackie Robinson.
“Half Past Autumn”
Beautifully filmed documentary about one of Americas’s most diverse artists. Gordon Parks is known for his outstanding work as a photographer, poet, novelist, composer and filmmaker – an artist without boundaries.
Your favorite photography quote?
I don’t have one, but you can tell the people that Robert Adams said my favorite quote, because he has a million amazing things to say about photography.
How would you describe your photographic style and way of working/creative process?
With my landscapes, I am interested in seeing new places. I photograph while walking around, knowing that I will never see that space again, hoping that I capture something worthwhile. I’ve gone to countries for weeks and have no photographs to show from it. As far as portraiture, I use very basic studio lighting. My portraits are more about people I know, an archive of my family and friends. I have no interest in photographing strangers.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
I look back to college and realized that I was trying to emulate a style of my professors, as well as the process in which they made photographs. From that, I just continued to travel to new places and photograph. Photograph books are very important for research, and I have become an avid collector.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
I try to be technical, my job is photographing paintings. I try to add my own view onto scenes that anyone can visit, not scenes that cannot be accessed by the public.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
A knowledge of the history and the current. I think the biggest thing is to constantly photograph something.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
It needs to be stimulating without text.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Personal experiences, gallery exhibitions, photography in the media, the landscape.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Fuji 6×7 and 6×9 rangefinders, Shen-hao 4×5 view camera, Nikon D800, Hasselblad digitals, Fuji x100. I literally use anything that I have around that particular day.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
I don’t have one. I check many sites daily, not always based specifically in photography.
What photography book would you recommend?
“Half Past Autumn” by Gordon Parks.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Do your research and try to incorporate the past without copying it.