Cameron Schiller is a documentary film photographer from the Midwest who is currently based between London and New York. Schiller's style is described as understanding beauty in the mundane. Using an easily portable point and shoot, she takes inspiration from Nan Goldin, Ryan McGinley, and Larry Clark. In her 2018 book titled Cameron Schiller 2015-2017 she explored documenting the intimate interactions experienced as a student at a small college in Vermont. Now, three years later, Schiller has put together her insights as both and insider and an outsider of South East London's underground scene in her newest release Cameron Schiller 2019-2022 . We recently got the opportunity to chat with the young photographer about her latest release and how she approaches shooting.
Could you tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Cameron Schiller and I’m a photographer. It’s pretty ironic that my name is Cam and I ended up being a photographer.
Could you describe the process of how you’d typically take a photo?
Normally I like to keep my setup compact: I have a small point-and-shoot camera that I’ll take out with me when I’m hanging out with friends.
At this point, my friends know the deal, that I might have my camera on me and take photos of them. I feel lucky that they trust me enough to allow me access to that space.
I want my photos to feel like a human perspective, and seen through my eyes; this matters more to me than nailing the composition. Moments are instantaneous— if you’re not ready, you can blink and then it’s over. My picture taking style reflects this and has also become instantaneous. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking the picture only moments after spotting the shot. Something in my brain fires off – point, shoot, click, done. My friends will laugh and be like, "Really, that was it? That can't be good, right?" It’s always the best shots though.
What about analogue photography draws you to it as opposed to digital photography?
The rawness of analogue photography is unmatched. I mean, I'm not a “purist” or “anti-digital” (there’s a lot of benefits to digital) — I just think it depends on the content you're shooting.
I take pictures of memories. The intimate nature of this comes out more with the
rawness of film.
You come from a small town in the Midwest and went to a small college in Vermont, what made you pick up and go to London?
Honestly? A break up. I mean originally that was the case. Eventually the purpose evolved beyond that from the incredibly meaningful experience it all was and memories made (you’ll see what I mean in my book)
Moving to London was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but also one of the most fulfilling. I guess these things tend to go hand in hand.
Is there any particular moment or experience that has led you to photograph the specific subjects and settings that you do?
I think my perspective on the world, then consequently my photography, has been very much influenced by growing up in the midwest. My whole interpretation of life is romanticized and can feel like a movie at points. My photographs capture this feeling. Even my London series has the perspective of being seen through a small town midwesterner’s eyes.
What is different about your 2019-2022 collection of photos as compared to those in your 2015-2017 book?
My first photo book was a collection of photos from college; a time in my life where photography was my entire life.
Now I’m also involved with other mediums like music (quick plug to my hyperpop music project, Jenny Alien .) Focusing on other things has affected how I take pictures, and I do it more for myself now than with the intention of showing others. I usually end up taking photos whenever I want to remember something, and am not bothered by the pretty optics.
So when I finally came around to making this photo book, there was a different and smaller type of selection to choose from than before. Most photos are of my friends instead of strangers, and in party/intimate gatherings, instead of previously in college where I would have my camera anywhere I went. It’s all very intimate and personal moments that I took for myself. Basically my diary.
Any advice for analogue photographers who want to document a specific scene, but don’t know where to start?
Just do it already!
Do you have any other projects that you are currently working on and can share with
This photo book is my most current project, but who knows. I just moved to New York so I guess check in with me in a few years and there might be another photo book.
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Always accept the tea, even if you don't drink it.