As his new book comes out, i-D catches up with the photographer about his stunningly spontaneous work.
Chad Moore, who is known for his images of friends in often exuberant and sometimes profoundly private moments, has just published his third book, June. Laid out by color, the book features 31 recent images, including colorful nostalgia-infused portraiture of downtown youth as well as skyscapes.
A Florida native, Moore began shooting in his youth while traveling across America as a BMX biker. Since moving to New York in 2008, he's been taking pictures every day in Lower East Side bars and on Chinatown rooftops. As one of Ryan McGinley's assistants, he became entrenched in an extended creative family of downtown kids. To commemorate this new body of work, Chad discusses his book, why New York is still the epicenter of artistic life, and finding the human aspect in things as simple as the sky.
Why do you think we're so captivated by images of youth culture in New York?
Before moving here I was really into Patrick O'Dell's pictures on his site Epicly Later'd. They were just snapshots made on a Canon Elph, but they made NYC seem like this magical place, where you went when you didn't fit in anywhere else. That website was in a small pocket of the Internet, but now New York is like a brand. If you're a creative person, it's made to seem like the only place to be. I love New York, it's been the center of the universe for me (and everyone) for so long and there are a lot of young people doing great stuff here right now, but I don't absolutely have to be here to make my pictures. I really enjoy going to Europe and then coming back to New York almost like a vacation. I think you have to make yourself miss it a bit.
Has your lifestyle changed much since you first moved to New York?
My lifestyle has changed only in that I've started to learn what it takes to make my work and what isn't necessary. Moderating things that once didn't occur to me to moderate, in all aspects of my life. People can look at the pictures and think there's no control, that it's just snapshots, which some of them are, but there's a lot of control, and getting a bit older, I'm learning where that control begins and ends. I suppose it's also about figuring out what's next, how to evolve.
Describe your newest publication, June.
I made a book called Anyone in Love with You Already Knows last year with a great German publisher called Dienacht. It's pretty extensive: 158 pages containing work mostly from my time in New York, but also in Europe. I was really satisfied with how it came out and I wanted to start working on something new right away. But really, the way I make pictures is pretty narrative driven and they take a long time to compile. I began to think, what if I make some kind of 'in between' book, something that doesn't need the narrative backing as much. I thought about some new photos I'd been working on and ideas of what the book should be. I sent some of the new pictures to a good friend, Philip Cronerud, who's a wonderful designer and he suggested sequencing them by color. It worked great because it almost completely randomized the sequencing process that I'm usually quite particular about - giving up control! Then I approached another friend, Maria Candanoza, who had just opened an art-book shop, Object_ify, to see if she would be interested in publishing it. Maria was into the idea, and came up with some nice details, like the Risograph posters that can be removed and replaced on the inside.
Why did you decide to include skyscapes?
The skyscapes kind of stem from what I mentioned before, just evolving. I've always made pictures of things other than people, but my interests have always been with portraiture. I like the connection. But I started to get tired of waiting around for that energy to appear. I thought about the things around us that aren't human, but can still possess that energy.
How else will your imagery change?
My work will always have the same elements, but as I continue making pictures, I figure out more and more what I want from an image and how I want it to effect the viewer. Lately I've been shooting some "staged" pictures, not posed, but just putting a subject in a situation and watching them react.
Can you describe a favorite picture?
So difficult. I'm a bit sentimental, so I have feelings about all of them really. One image people always come back to is the Olivia (Black Eye) photo. I met Olivia though Nicky Lesser when Nicky and I moved to Eldridge street. Olivia lived across the street so I ended up taking a lot of pictures of her. This particular photo was from Halloween a few years ago. I was trying to meet up with everyone at some party and as I walked up to the door, Olivia was getting thrown out by security for some petty reason I'm sure and I see her face - her Halloween costume was a self-inflicted black eye. I thought it was really pretty. I think some people look at it as a violent image or something, but I think it's quite the opposite.
Text Paige Silveria
Photography Chad Moore