Christopher Lusher was born in 1974 on a ferris wheel in Columbus, Ohio. A terrible student in school he dreamt of being a policeman until he discovered comic books and skateboarding. After breaking his ankle and unable to skate he entered a ten year blur of debauchery before finding love and creating Hillbilly Mag : The Cross Pollination. He has since presided over the 2010 Appalachian Film Festival bringing Harmony Korines ‘Trash Humpers’ to the area and producing the most successful festival ever in its ten year span. He has also exhibited photography and artwork throughout the state. His photos have been featured in purple DIARY, the official blog of Purple Fashion Magazine. He currently resides in West Virginia and is producing an upcoming show entitled simply ‘Hillbilly’ for this August.
Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Chris Lusher and I’m originally from Ohio but moved to West Virginia when i was 17. I’m 36 now so I’ve been here over half of my life.
Did you go to school for photography?
No. I started shooting three years ago for my girlfriend who lives in Italy so she could get a feel for the surroundings here and just eventually became obsessed with it. I think that schooling in the arts often does more harm than good. I suppose its nice to learn techniques and technicalities but I think it really drains the ‘individual expression’ out of art. Alot of people I know that did go to school for painting, photography etc. became burnt out on it and lost their love of the medium they were studying. I feel that creativity is something that is bred into your bones as opposed to say someone who THINKS they want to paint, be a photographer, poet etc. in some romanticized way so they go to school to BECOME that thing and it never seems to work out.
What other mediums are you experienced with?
I started drawing when I was very, very little and was told I was quite good at it which I did until I become old enough to want to be Indiana Jones and then I spent years running through the woods aimlessly before starting to paint when i was about 18. I painted for a few years and then stopped doing that and began writing for various online magazines. After a few years of writing I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker and shot a thirty minute short that has never been seen and will probably never be seen. There are some really good ideas in it but it wasn’t perhaps executed properly. I then played in a few bands and recorded a cd. That all fell through around the time I discovered photography. Currently I shoot alot of photos, do collage work and short experimental videos.
What’s your favourite subject matter?
I honestly don’t have a favorite subject. My favorite thing to do is make people look at everyday objects in a new way. To see things they’ve seen a million times before in a different light. A pile of garbage and a portrait are equal to me. There are things that are really obvious photography wise that would make a good photo and I found myself falling into that trap. Having people say ‘I like your tree photos’ makes me want to go in another direction. I began selling prints and everyone wanted the same sort of photo which was usually something sky related and I reacted in the same manner. Turning away from the obvious is good for a photographers eye. It really makes you aware.
Do you think the internet is a good source for getting yourself out there?
The internet is awesome and terrible in equal measure. It is a great launching pad to be seen and heard but you are competing with layer upon layer upon layer of shit. How do you get past that? You hold onto the faith that the cream rises to the top but whose to say what’s good and what isn’t? I’ve been fortunate to be featured quite alot on my favorite magazines website,
, but I think that comes from a shared sensibility. The whole reason I started Hillbilly was for this exact reason though. So my friends and myself could have an outlet to be seen and heard. I’m currently on the third incarnation of the site and it is kind of amazing the amount of content in that it is like a progressing gallery that just grows and grows. I’m really proud of it.
How often do you have a camera in your hand?
I always have my one little pawn shop camera with me which is my only camera. The thing is tough as nails and it is basically like my child but I haven’t done the whole guitar thing and named it. Its an abusive yet loving relationship. I can’t believe it has put up with my shit this long. The only time I don’t have my camera with me is when something beyond incredible presents itself and then I get depressed and binge drink for about 24 hours.
Do you find it hard to take self portraits?
I find that quite easy. That makes me sound like an asshole I guess but it’s a great way to learn. I shoot self portraits nearly the same way everytime. Same wall, same composition but it gets to a point of oversaturation in that you’ve done the same thing so many times that there is no differentiation. I also am not very good at pulling stupid faces or poses so I have an abundance of self portraits of me looking righteous or tough for the sake of not pulling stupid faces or poses.
Film vs Digital, go!
Well I’ve only ever used digital so I’m biased on this question. I know there are the purists that hold onto the romance of film and the process as there were also people who continued to ride horses after cars started hitting the road. I’ve just never known the past as something good to hang onto. As well I’m an instant gratification kind of guy so I want results immediately hence my hairy palms.
William Eggleston, Jeurgen Teller, Dash Snow, Dan Colen, Harmony Korine, Aurel Schmidt, Jack Siegel, the pro skateboarder Alex Olson is a really good photographer, Jess Holzworth, Basquiat, John Currin, Dennis Hopper, Banks Violette, the Gonz. I used to think I liked Terry Richardson but have you seen that guys blog? It’s fucking terrible. Repetitive and the photos are usually total crap. Wait. Did you mean just one artist?
If you could give any advice to a person very new to photography, what would it be?
Look through the hole, square it up and push the button.