Mantra: “You wanna shoot?”
First camera: Canon T50, Canon AE-1
Current favorite: Fuji X100S@chipwillis
Nevermind that he was a crew chief in the U.S. Army, zipping around in old Huey helicopters back in the ’80s—the most exciting thing that happened to Chip Willis during his time in the military was a guy in his unit teaching him how to develop black-and-white film.
That kicked off a 40-years-and counting career for Willis, whose singular work he still prefers not to categorize—only to say that his photography has always emphasized and been an example of “freedom.”
“Freedom encompasses everything,” he said.
It’s 2017. I am doing nothing that is new, or unheard of. I feel like people are more open these days, but then again, I won’t get hired for certain gigs based on a Google search and the resulting Ohh… we can’t have him shoot this xyz because what if someone objects! This has happened before and always will happen. Why should I react, or restrict myself to what someone might think? I’m more interested in working with people who care about the work itself. Otherwise, it’s insulting to the skill and craft I have developed over the years.
I have shot people having sex. It’s awesome. But how many people will remember this part and talk about it? The first time I shot a couple engaged in a sexual activity, I used a fake name on Tumblr. I don’t do that anymore, because I don’t f*cking care.
Columbus is my home. Columbus is always changing. Columbus is open. I shot someone topless on High Street in the Short North mid-day, and no one really noticed. There are plenty of places to shoot around town with varied looks and feelings—especially at night. Columbus is amazing at night.
When you stop and look at a photo that pleases you, and gets its message across, do you think about how it was done, [with] what camera? With the exception of certain techniques, most of the time the answer is, was it a good photo? Did it make you stop and look and maybe feel something? The image is what matters most of the time, not how it was made. I have seen killer stuff done on phones. I expect this to continue. I love good photography, and that means skill, vision and presentation. That is what’s important.