mercredi 29 décembre 2010
Chip Willis is a photographer working in Columbus Ohio, and travels to NYC and LA as often as possible. Available for assignment in the areas of Portrait, Fashion and Commercial photography.
I saw his work in an exhibition at Jungle Science Gallery in March. It was too good not to ask if he would mind sharing. Chip doesn’t say much about his work, or the way he approaches it, allowing the images and techniques to speak for themselves.
Chip Willis’ provocative photography can make viewers feel embarrassed, outraged or even aroused. But, as Willis will tell you, as long as his work makes you feel something, he’s happy. “I enjoy pushing boundaries,” Willis says. “I don’t care what your opinion is as long as you have one. It might not be the prettiest thing they’ve seen, but I want people to stop and look.”
Willis spends a large amount of time photographing actors and actresses in Hollywood and Florida, and holds gallery shows while doing magazine work in New York. He recently shot the cover for the launch issue of Karin + Raoul, a New York fashion art magazine that goes to press this spring.
Willis says that portions of his work play better in bigger metros. “Columbus is safe,” he says, describing the aesthetic tastes of our city. He said that his sensibility has been influenced by work in Europe and Australia where seeing nudes in magazines isn’t risqué but instead entirely normal. Adds the photographer, “All sorts of magazines (outside the U.S.) have nudes intermixed like it’s nothing.”
When he was younger, the Columbus native dreamed of being an Air Force pilot, but while studying at Ohio State University, he found out his sight wasn’t sharp enough for the cockpit. He did, however, find another use for his eyes. While serving in the Army, he first picked up a camera as a helicopter crew chief in a MedEvac unit. “Someone introduced me to black and white developing and I got hooked. I spent a good deal of time at the photo lab on base.” He also spent two rotations in Panama (“when Noriega was still considered a good guy”) and the U.S. supporting Army Ranger training, “picking up a lot of guys from Jump School with broken bones.”
Returning to Columbus, he did seven years in the Army reserves, got married, had a son and spent thousands of dollars on camera equipment, getting down to brass tacks and honing his style. Several years ago, one of his photographs was featured in the now defunct Australian magazine Black + White, which garnered international attention. “That led to a phone call from a Hollywood movie producer,” he says.
Willis flew to Australia to photograph actor Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, The Tudors). Through a growing list of Hollywood contacts, he began shooting edgy photos of actors and actresses to showcase their emotional ranges. “I don’t do your typical actor headshots,” Willis says. He hopes to focus his career on continuing work with major actors, and eventually expects to work full-time in New York. “I love being able to capture or create something, or [forge] a combo of both that will hold people’s attention,” he says. “If you want to be good at something, you have to be obsessed with it.”