Interview – Bobby Doherty

 
What does photography in New York City mean to you ?

Living here definitely pushes me to work harder. (My rent is extraordinarily high for living across the street from a cement mixing plant). But aside from everything costing too much, there definitely is this energy that makes people move forward. It’s terribly cliche but probably true. Any day that I don’t spend working or rrreeaaaallyy having the best fun feels like a complete waste. But as far as photography goes here—I have no idea. I know there’s a lot of photographers all trying to do the same exact thing. I just try not to think about that kind of stuff. Only focus on what you need from yourself.
 
 
 
 

 
 

You frequently work on editorial commissions, what do you get from this process that your personal work does not offer ?

Shooting editorial and commissioned stuff is interesting because in some cases I didn’t know I was capable of taking a certain kind of photos until it was asked of me. Something about having the pressure of someone else’s expectations has squeezed out some of my best work.

 
Did you study photography at university? If so, what was your experience there like looking back ?

I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2011. Looking back on it now is funny because it really feels a lot more like group therapy than anything else. There’s lots of sitting in circles and talking about feels. Lots of having to explain yourself. I hated that part. I think I was making a lot of work—but it was all from a very comfortable place. I gave myself rules. At one point fairly early on I decided everything I shot would be vertical on color 35mm film. I thought it made everything feel like a neat index. Most of my professors really pressure kids into making these super tight bodies of work that should be neatly wrapped up by the end of the year. I understand why they do it, but I never thought it made very much sense asking a nineteen year old to write an artist statement about these photos they took of their grandparents house. I somehow managed to make it all four years riding on the “I just like it this way” wave.

 
 
 

 
 
 
Your work is predominantly colour based, what appeals you to colour that black and white doesn’t ?

Colors are fun.

 

What is your approach to Tumblr, does it inform your work much? Do you see it as an integral part of contemporary photographic practice ?
 
Nah it’s just fun to look at stuff / fill your life with an infinite scroll.
Are there any contemporary talents that inspire you, or are you one to shy away from other’s practice ?
 
I don’t really want to do an epic shout out list, but I’m constantly checking out the work of people I like. It’s exciting to see so many people I e-know making such neat stuff. Makes me feel a part of a community that probably doesn’t really exist outside of my mind.
 

I understand that you interned at Vice. How was photography approached during your time there, did you gain a lot from your time there ?

A lot of what I did there was working of shoots with the fashion editor. I interned there for almost a year when I was in school and overall I had a great time. I use to make all these ridiculous pdf’s with fashion shoot ideas that I’d send out to the editors every few months. Only once did one of the shoots come to be haha. I’m definitely glad I spent so much time there, I learned a lot about how photo shoots actually function.

 
 
 

 
 
 
What institutions do you turn to for inspiration ?

Wholesale stores full of crud.

 
 
 

 
 
 
What excites you about what’s happening in photography now ?

I tend to only realize what ideas seem exhausted. It’s not good to pay too much attention to that kind of stuff.
 

www.bobbydoherty.net