Hi Chris. Thanks for sitting down and answering some questions for me. Before we start properly, if I may ask, how did you come up with your photography business name? Is it nickname? A commentary on your shooting style? ie are you a photographic ninja...Thanks to many hours gaming as a child, and to this day as a taller child, I know Shinobi to be another word for ninja. Thank you Sega for seemingly useless knowledge that makes good in the end.
'Well I was looking for something different; something interesting. When I was a freshman at Morehouse College my friends would always say I was ninja like in how I always appeared out of no where. One of them started to call me Shinobi and it has stuck to this day. I watched a lot of kung-fu movies so it was a fitting name and it had a nice ring to it.'
|Model - Misha Silva|
Speaking of the business of photography, how did you get started behind the camera?
'Well I started traveling throughout Europe, Africa and Asia a few years ago and when I looked back at my photos I didn't like them. It was then I knew I had to learn photography. Two years ago I bought my 1st DSLR camera and the rest is history. I have always had an interest in photography but never took the time to learn. I took as many pictures as I could starting with landscapes. These past two years photography has become a passion to me and I try to progress continuously. I have had many influences that started me in street photography and studio photography since then.'
You've photographed a lot of cosplayers at events such as London MCM Comic-Con. This may be difficult, a bit like asking a parent pick their favourite child, but...which of the ones you've shot is your favourite?
'Wow, this is a tough question. I loved so many of the cosplays but I can name a couple of my favorites. The classic Joker that Jack Nicholson played. @chrisstonefilms not only had a great look but brought the attitude of the Joker as well. My other favorite was actually a moment. I am a huge fan of the Walking Dead and a cosplayer dressed as Glenn passed me. I told him to find me a Negan and we could re-create one of the top moments in the history of the show. I posed Negan with the bat to Glenns' head. It was perfect because Glenn actually had blood on his head. I re-wrote the script after that and posed Negan on the ground while Glenn put up a bat to his head. Call it Glenn's Revenge.
Coming in third I would say a photo of Old Man Logan. He really captured the gritty and just worn down image of the Logan movie. We shot a photo of him sitting down and his girlfriend in the background walking away. She was a red head so the story goes that he was thinking about Jean Grey and that were her in the blurred background representing his memory of her.'
Is there a character you haven't had chance to shoot that you'd love to? Or, one who you have shot but would love to do a full on "proper" shoot based around?
'Yes there are plenty of those. I would like to do some shots with Wolverine and Deadpool. I think it could be really interesting playing off the two characters.'
|Model - Rachelava|
Generally the cosplay at Comic-Con like events focuses on characters from Marvel and DC, if we disregard anime, manga, gaming etc for the purpose of this question. I'm assuming, seeing as you visit such events, you have some interest in the subject matter, so...Marvel or DC?
'I have always loved Batman but I would have to say Marvel. Growing up I was a huge fan of the Spiderman and X-Men comics and cartoons. And to be honest Marvel is dominating DC with their movies. Although the Wonder Woman movie is definitely a step in the right direction.'
When looking through your work preparing for this interview, I spent quite some time marveling at your landscapes (it's something I really want to try my hand at, and yours are inspirational). In the past, as I suppose will be the case with any form of photography, some people say they took to it straight away, while others had to really work at it. How did you find it when you started?
'I really did take straight to it. I believe I first visited Feldberg in Germany for a snowboard trip. I went out one evening with my Nikon D3200 at the time and a cheap tripod. It was the first time I tried long exposure photography. The picture came out great and immediately felt like I had a talent for photography. Since then I practiced A LOT and have made mistakes and grown from them.'
Where was your favourite landscape shoot?
'My favorite place to shoot landscapes thus far is the Isle of Skye, Scotland. That place is a beautiful island of untouched nature. I could spend months there just hiking and shooting. I plan to go back there in the winter.'
Do you have a bucket list of landscape locations you want to shoot at? If so, where is at the top of the list?
'Most definitely. Iceland, New Zealand and Alaska are at the top of my list but my goal is to visit all 7 continents.'
|Model - Penelopemodel|
From what I've seen, especially of Iceland and Alaska, they look stunning. Are we talking one massive, awesome photo trip or the more "sensible", many trips over many years approach?
'It would probably be a week long trip and returning over many years.'
|Studio - Harrogate Studio|
Another style of photography you shoot is street photography. Online there seems to be a few debates about street photography, specifically, people comparing it to, if not outright referring to it as photojournalism. More often than not, especially within printed media, photojournalism falls into one of two things; often times graphic images of someone's suffering, or, blurry overly cropped paparazzi images of some b-list celeb's butt (or boobs, it depends on the week). From what I've seen it can be polorising, so, as a street photographer, how do you feel about people comparing the two?
'I don't really feel like I have ever compared to a paparazzi. I try to capture images on the street as I see them. I allow others to look at the photos and form their own story of what is happening in the image. I try to capture people being themselves whether that is happiness or sadness. Candid street images tell a story and I like to leave the story up to interpretation even if I have my own narration of the photo.'
If I'm honest, until prepping for this interview, I didn't know there was such debates (arguments!) online about it. Do you agree with the prevailing belief in many of the debates that, whilst street photography shares an image without pushing a narrative, photojournalism increasingly pushes a narrative predetermined by papers and news websites?
'Not really, photojournalism actually isn't meant to push a narrative. It is supposed to be impartial while also telling a story. Street photography are more candid shots of everyday people going about their lives. They both are a bit different and can be impartial.'
|Model - Katie Royale|
If people want to see more of your work, where should I send them?
'My work can be seen on my website at www.shotsbyshinobi.com and on instagram @shotsbyshinobi'
|Model - Brad Quinn|
Last thing, before you leave, what is your favourite joke?
'What did the five fingers say to the face? SLAP!!!!'
|Model - Emma Darling|
Once again, I'd like to thank Chris for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. Be sure to check out the links for more of his work, and the links attached to the images for the other creatives involved.