The Smoking Jacket: What made you want to be a photographer?
David Strange: I’ve always been interested in how people can look at the same thing but perceive it in such vastly different ways. Photography was a very tangible yet artistic medium to externalize how I perceived my surroundings and situations. I first picked up a camera in my teens and I think having that type of outlet is particularly important at that age.
TSJ: What’s the best part of taking pictures of women?
DS: Ummm, Really!? Okay, so there are some fairly obvious reasons but more than that I really enjoy the interpersonal part. Trying to gauge a model’s personality, adapt to their mood and process, and create images that encompass that to capture a moment.
TSJ: Your models aren’t all cheerleader types. What attracts you to your subjects? What do you think is beautiful? In general? In a woman?
DS: I’ve never really been drawn to typical or expected. It’s definitely the personality that most attracts me to my subjects. Someone who looks like they’ve got a story to tell is more appealing to me than any particular physique. I find beauty in unique, eccentric, quirky.
It’s those unique characteristics, whether they’re something exceptional or what may be deemed by some as a flaw, that make something not only beautiful but memorable. Unlike the beauty I see in things like inanimate objects or a perfect sunset though for me beauty in a person can be dramatically enhanced or disintegrate based on their personality. If you’re someone overtly lacking in morals, respect or common courtesy you’ll get real ugly real fast in my books.
TSJ: Counterculture in your sexy pics. Tell me about it.
DS: My English teacher used to tell me “Write what you know.” For me it’s no different with photography. Most of my friends are skaters, musicians, artists, and are basically a general assembly of merry freaks. That combined with having been the original Editor-In-Chief/Co-Owner of Skunk Magazine and doing work with High Times, Green Candy Press and an assortment of other cannabis related publications that’s pretty much the world and the people that are familiar to me. It’s those circles that I draw most of my artistic inspiration as well as the models from.
TSJ: What does a sexy photo look like?
DS: A sexy photo is often more about what you don’t see than what you do. It’s an image that plants a seed but still leaves something to the imagination. I love an heir of mystery or a certain rawness or unpolished element. It creates a sense of something real and makes it far more visceral.
TSJ: Are there any photographers whose work inspires you?
DS: There are the typical classics, lately though it’s Gary Breckheimer, Chip Willis, Cameron Davies, Neil Snape, Julien Humphries, Corwin Prescott, and folks like that.
TSJ: What have been some memorable shoots?
DS: The shoot with Cat Hedlund we used for this interview was quite memorable. The first time we shot was about two years ago and my camera had a total meltdown. I brought three or four backups this time.
This summer I had Theresa Manchester up from LA and while she had no trouble getting through customs I can’t say the same for the clothes that were sent for our editorial. We had to completely change our concept last minute and effectively go to plan C but that girl knocked it out of the park anyway.
One of the funnier ones though was just last week during a shoot with a couple models at their hotel. I was in the other room shooting with one while the second had gone on the balcony to have a cigarette. The next thing I hear is, “Oh, my god, you’ve gotta check this out!” She comes into the room laughing and proceeds to tell us that she just saw the guy in the apartment directly across the street turn on all his lights, get naked and bust out the binoculars. There were a couple of creeper jokes and then “Hey, let’s give him a show.” Three seconds later the curtains were drawn and boobs pressed firmly on glass. I think they made that guy’s decade!
TSJ: What boundaries do you think nudity pushes?
DS: I think nudity is an extension of what initially got me interested in photography in that it pushes absolutely no boundaries for some and is highly offensive to others. It forces people to think about body image and their comfort levels with their own and the differences between appreciation of a natural form and sexuality.
TSJ: What do you still want to try with your work?
DS: I’m always experimenting and playing new styles or techniques so what I want to try in a few years will likely be quite different than what I want to try now. I’m just going to enjoy the journey and see where it takes me.