20 Feb Creative Chrissie Hall
If you’ve not met Chrissie Hall or seen her photographs, then get ready for a good dose of quirkiness. She’s an expert. I’ve been a fan of her work since first viewing it in a shared creative space on Oxford Street. About to be a young mum at the time, Chrissie was – and is – as vibrant in real life as her subjects are in portrait.
In November 2016 we sat down to talk about her photographic practice and where it all began. At the time I invited her to ‘take over’ GkJE 3 on Instagram for a couple of months, visit GkJE 3 here.
Describing herself as a director, photographer and artist specialising in fashion, film, portraiture and social documentary; Chrissie says she “strives to invoke and capture the enigmatic and daring elements of her subjects amid surreal environments. Her art emphasises the bond between how individuals and their surroundings can influence one another to produce bold, startling and breathtaking results.”
I begin our interview with a very conservative question. At what age did you realise you wanted to be a photographer?
You could say I became a photographer at age five. Mum had entered me in a baby competition, [several years earlier] and the prize was a camera. I was the winner. And from about the age of five, I would take photos every month of the family dog. Every photo was the same, but it started from there.
It sounds like portraits have always been a ‘thing’ for you.
You could say that. As a teenager, I bought an alien doll. I’d set up scenes with a friend, creating scenarios that included props like toy cars. One time, that included placing the doll on a supermarket shelf.
Do you still have it? The alien doll?
And so from aliens in supermarkets….
I studied filmmaking at uni, which included photography. I remember we had a darkroom. I was dating a guy with a motorbike and we would develop ‘naughty’ photos of each other. It went on from there, [the photography, that is] gradually becoming part of my life – just second nature, like a second skin.
You mentioned filmmaking. That lost its appeal?
I’ve always worked with visual mediums, but stayed with photography. It’s easier than filmmaking, which is so much more complicated. Photography allows you to tell more stories, faster.
And what about your first exhibition?
(Laughs) I said to my friend Angie, let’s have an exhibition. And we did. And now I work full-time as a photographer. Well, that’s the short version.
What do you like most about photography?
I like working with people, they bounce off energy and auras. I like that.
Your 2017 exhibition 100 Pictures, 100 Stories was the culmination of a twelve-month project with Deb Morgan. Can you explain how that came about?
Deb and I started by photographing our art group. It was something along the lines of; “wouldn’t it be cool to do this to promote our art group?” We photographed 30 individuals, then thought; “wouldn’t it be great to cover a whole wall with portraits of people?”
In the end, we decided to photograph and interview 100 people from diverse backgrounds and practices. They included artists, scientists, porn stars, cake designers, chicken breeders, taxidermists, health professionals, performers, actors, craft beer connoisseurs and more!
We were lucky enough to work with some well-known people like Dr Karl, Anthony Lister, Paul Fenech from Fat Pizza, Katherine Sabbath, Betty Grumble, Glitta Supernova, and another 94 personalities from all walks of life.
It’s a long way from “let’s have an exhibition” to photographing famous faces.
Yeah, I know. Each exhibition has been totally different. My first exhibition with Angie in 2015 was called 3.99 Herz. It was a show about brainwaves. I was fascinated by them at the time. I described it as a surreal artistic experiment, with the artworks delving into the unmapped subconscious of the mind. My exhibitions are evolutions, they always explore a theme, and the artwork comes from that.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have a young daughter, so right now I’m doing a series where I photograph her dressed the same way each week, as a pilot, an astronaut, a doctor and a Simpsons character. I’d love to eventually publish a book. I’m hoping it will be an ongoing project for the rest of our lives.