Day 221: First Friday Feature: Charli Savage

When I discovered Charli’s amazing work, I instantly fell in love with her evocative work. Every image is incredibly fascinating and filled with beautiful storytelling visuals. I cannot imagine not having discovered her incredible art and I cannot wait to share her story, message, and photography with you. And I know I missed the First Friday, but it’s better late than never.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

10 fun or not-so-fun facts, so as not to bore you before you’ve started reading…I was born in England and raised in Australia
– I have a lifetime relationship with the written word. I LOVE reading
– I’ve travelled to 15 different countries and can’t wait to explore more of the world
– I’m very much against animal cruelty and choose to eat a plant-based diet because of that. I haven’t eaten meat for 18 years and transitioned to complete vegan 3 years ago.
– I have an irrational fear of cockroaches
– I have 12 tattoos with many more to come
– I have a younger brother
– I don’t believe in marriage and I don’t want children
– Recently, I had a friend spider who lived in my shower and every day he/she would be hanging out on the floor. When I would get in the shower, it knew it was time to relocate. It would crawl onto my hand and I’d put it up on the wall near the ceiling and there it would hang out until I was done. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it for a couple of weeks. I like to think wherever it is, it’s having a grand ol’ time. 
– Thinking of 10 facts is hard

2. What go you started in photography?

Strangely enough, I always wanted to be in front of the camera, not behind it. I was set on being an actor. I started at a young age and was 100% certain this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I even packed up my life in Australia and moved to LA alone, to study acting. But one random day, when I was 28/29 years old, I woke up and realised I didn’t love it as much anymore and I’d been forcing myself to do it because of how many years I’d committed to it. After that epiphany, I stopped, but I still needed a creative outlet. Enter photography… Mid-2017, I was in South Africa at the time and my friend had a camera, so I started taking random photos and found that I really enjoyed it. When I got home, I purchased my first digital camera and started teaching myself how to use it. I spent a year or so taking portraits, and then around September 2018, I discovered the world of fine art and conceptual photography and I haven’t looked back since.  

3. Describe your workflow, what is unique about your process?

My workflow differs shoot to shoot. Some of my work is born out of zero preparation. I’ll just happen to take extra photos when I’m shooting with someone and I’ll leave them sitting on my computer for months, and then one day, I’ll put them into Photoshop and just let my creativity flow and it turns out however it turns out. Some of the best images I’ve created have come from zero preparation. 

On the other hand though, some of my work is born from complete preparation, beginning to end, right down to the minutest of details. I’ll spend time drawing out a concept (and by draw I mean stick figures) and then I’ll write down whatever I can think of, such as location, props, the meaning behind it, a shot list, the who, what, why, when, how and then I’ll go out and shoot it, put it into Photoshop and edit it until it’s exactly how I envisioned. 

Either way I create though, whether it be from a lack of, or complete preparation, I’ve created work that I’m proud to share, and I’ve also created work that will never see the light of day and that excites me, the never knowing if what I’m doing will work or not. 

4. What do you enjoy most about creating an image?

I would say that what I love the most differs day to day. I know that I always love being out in nature and shooting, but there are days I don’t feel motivated to do it. I also know that I love getting into Photoshop and piecing an image together, but there are days where I just don’t have the patience for it. The whole thing is a process and I enjoy the journey as much as I do finishing an image. It’s a bittersweet feeling when I complete an image. I’m happy and sad, knowing it’s time to release it into the world and it never being irrevocably just mine again. 

5. What accomplishment in your photography do you feel the proudest of?

Just the sheer fact that I can create something from nothing and I’m able to share that. And to then have people message me to say how connected they feel to it. That never ceases to amaze me and it honestly means so much to me.

6. What camera equipment do you use?

Currently, I use a Canon 80D. My go to lens is my Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art Lens, however, I do have a ‘Nifty 50’ (Canon 50mm 1.8) that I occasionally use for portraits. I also have a tripod, although not sure of the brand, but I can tell you it’s a cheap one off eBay and it gets the job done.

7. Is there a certain theme you try to express in your work? Why do you feel a need to share that? What do you hope people will take away from your images? 

It’s never been my intention to express one particular ideal or theme throughout my work. Truth be told, I’m usually all over the place, and my mind is utter chaos for the most part, so I prefer not to stick to one underlying theme in particular, however, looking at my work, I’d say there were themes that have been repeated subconsciously throughout, such as the themes of hope and growth. I also use birds in a lot of my work, which, to me is a representation of freedom, but seriously, sometimes I just put them in for the sheer fact that I just like birds flying around the sky.

In regards to sharing my work, I do it because I’m proud of it and I don’t want to hide that or feel ashamed of that. It’s crazy to me, to think I’ve created something from nothing and that something can then impact someone in some way or another. I hope that whoever views my work is transported to another world or another time. I hope for it to shift perception, evoke emotion, whether good or bad and I hope it inspires for years to come.

8. Where do you find inspiration?

I try my darndest to find inspiration within myself, but sometimes my mind just doesn’t want to go there and all I end up doing is pulling blanks. When that happens, I’ll find inspiration through whatever books I’ve read / currently reading, movies, through my fellow artists, nature, abandoned places, death, and sometimes, even Pinterest. I also find that doing something completely different for a while can be good. It gives me a fresh outlook.

9. Out of your images, which is your personal favorite and why?

This may well be the hardest question in this whole interview. I have favourites, but just one in particular? That’s a big ask… Ok, if I absolutely had to choose just one, it’s got to be ‘Zenosyne’. Everything about this image just ran smoothly from the shoot to the edit, and even the caption and title. The day we shot it, this big storm was rolling in, the wind was flowing in the right direction for the smoke bomb to go where I wanted it to, and I had Billie (my beautiful friend and model) flicking the dress and the way I snapped the shot, her arm just happened to be in the right position after flicking it, so I didn’t have to edit the flick of the dress onto a base shot, just the flick of her hair. The image represents how fleeting time is and holding onto it so that we can stay in a moment a little longer, instead of it rushing by and disappearing before we’ve even had a chance to appreciate it. 

10. What is the biggest piece of advice you have ever been given? What advice would you give your younger self, the you who has just started creating?

I’m not sure that I’ve ever been given a “biggest piece of advice”. I’ve been independent from my parents since I was 16 and a lot of what I’ve learned over the years has been through figuring it out on my own, making my own mistakes and growing from that.  

One piece of advice that stuck in the back of my mind though, was during Brooke Shaden’s Promoting Passion event in LA in June 2019. She said, “create despite…”. Create despite your mood, your financial situation, your circumstances… Just keep creating, regardless. For whatever reason, I connected with that, and wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment.

What advice would I give my younger self just starting out? Fail. Fail so many times. Collect rejections like they’re the most valuable thing on earth. Figure out how not to do it, so you can figure out how you can. 

You can find Charli through Instagram or her website.

Until Next Time,
Lillian Merritt

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