Where did you grow up? How did you end up where you are now? I was born in Manhattan and grew up between NY and Paris because my mom is French and my dad is American. My teenage years were spent in Paris where I spent my time filming and photographing skateboarding. That led me to meeting some really interesting people notably Charles Lamb who was on a skate trip in Paris from NY. He would later introduce me to basically all the people I know in NY.
I ended up settling in New York for college when I got a scholarship after winning a short film festival in Paris. I studied cinematography there. During that time I spent most of my days still filming skating which for some reason quickly led to assisting jobs in the fashion world. I guess skaters hang out with fashion people and vice versa. I met Zippy somewhere along the way and I now have the privilege of spending summers in New Zealand where she is from.
Do you remember the first defining moment where you realized you had developed your own style? When I was 13 I thought I was taking these amazing unique photos just because I had managed to expose them correctly. They were all in black and white and very graphic looking. I was naive and I kind of miss that. My mind wasn’t so flooded with images and references back then. I try and take photos all the times with whatever I have handy it could be with a phone, a little film camera, anything, it’s just fun.
I’ll admit it is more thrilling shooting film as there is an element of surprise involved and you put more work into it, from buying the film to bringing it to a lab and finally getting your scans back, you feel as though you’ve worked for your images. They are more rewarding in a sense but I don’t have anything against digital.
Any other outside influences? Outside of photography, yes my main job as a cinematographer. After that music, I couldn’t live without music. I’ve played instruments since a really young age and they’re so important in my work, often times my ideas will emanate from listening to music. I’ve also started great friendships from playing music with someone else, same as bonding over films. One of the things I really like about filmmaking is that there is a musical element to it and a collaborative process.
Who’s work has inspired you or made you think about the way you shoot? Man, so many people’s work inspire me, and the spectrum wouldn’t even make sense. All the photos and films I see make me think about the way I shoot.
At what point did photography seem like an art? Or a possible career path? Photography has always seemed like art to me. I took it for a given. I was young, I was told it was an art form and that was it. As a career path it isn’t really one for me or at least not yet. Although I’ve shot some things for money and I do believe filmmaking and photography go hand in hand I really try and concentrate on cinematography and directing as a career path, I would say it’s definitely what I’m better at.
How did you develop your skills? Did you go to school or have a mentor? By taking thousands of photos. I went to a photography and filmmaking intensive summer camp when I was 14. We spent 2 months shooting super 8 and 16mm film, splicing and taping the film together and projecting them at the end of each week. We also had access to unlimited amounts of 35mm film and a darkroom. It’s all we did every day so I developed technique there, or at least understood the mechanics of cameras and the importance of being organized with your negatives. I still feel as though I have so much to explore and learn creatively.
What did you shoot during this time when you were still an adolescent photographer? When I was young I was shooting skating and friends. Now I shoot friends but a lot of my girlfriend as you can see.
What did you do before photography was a viable option? To tell you the truth it still isn’t a viable option. I’m going to focus on films for a long time and never stop taking photos, there’s no other medium I’m really as passionate about.
Check out more Terence Connors imagery at @terenceconnors