“I remember starting to take photos in middle school. No one in my family is a photographer so I’m not really sure how I got into it, but I used to buy disposable cameras and take pictures of my friends.”
Chloe Sells is a photographer I discovered through a mutual friend. Although we’ve never met, she is someone whose work I’ve admired for years. There’s a surreal nature to her photographs that makes one feel as if they have stumbled onto an intimate daydream.
When did you start taking photographs and what inspired you to start?
In high school two of my closest friends were really into digital photography. I didn’t have a digital camera at that point, but I did play with my friend’s cameras and learned how to use an SLR. I still played with disposable cameras and felt like film was something that I wanted to experiment with more. I took a dark room class and bought some more film equipment at Treasure Mart. I got a Cannon Rebel t3 when I was 18 or 19 but still preferred film.
Does your work revolve around any specific themes?
My photos usually involve women although I’m happy to photograph any and everybody. I usually shoot people in an intimate setting and try to make it as comfortable as possible, and hopefully capture a positive relationship between people and their bodies. I’ll end up taking photos of flowers, plants, or weird shit like roadkill or my collection of sugar pills when there is no one to take photos of, but I definitely prefer to shoot people. The way emotion shapes a body is interesting to me. The way a body responds to space (or perhaps the way a space responds to a body) is interesting to me. I think I’ve created some of my favorite work when I’ve been in intense places emotionally.
Where did you grow up and how did your surroundings influence you as a person and in your work?
I grew up in Ann Arbor with my mom and two cats. We didn’t have a lot of money while I was younger, but my mom did everything she could to help support me in school and with my art. She eventually gained a good amount of success in her business which to me is proof that when you love what you do and devote yourself you’ll end up happy. I moved to Detroit seven months ago after living in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area. I want to get more involved with the community, there is so much going on here it’s very motivating.
What are your current aspirations?
I’m currently in school part time and working full(ish) time. I dropped out of both high school and college and made some other iffy choices when I was younger, but I got back in school pretty recently, and realized that I love it now that I’ve got an idea of what I want to do with my life. My goals right now are to work more with other artists and maybe eventually start a communal darkroom in Detroit. I would also like to publish a book of photos sometime next year.
One book and one film recommendation:
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb or Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins. I was also told recently I need to read The Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson which I’m excited to start. Film recommendation is too hard but I love Fellini films and anything with Cher.