Chris Ubik Photography

"No touchy! Nooooo touchy!"

I have been a photographer on-and-off for almost 40 years and over those nearly four decades I have shot almost everything there is to shoot: people, landscapes, still-lifes, astrophotography, cityscapes, pets, birds, (no macro, though).

Oddly, I keep coming back to people.

Why “oddly?” Because I’m an ambivert: what most call “an extroverted introvert.” I can do the people thing all day, but once that tank runs dry I am out. Done. Completely over the human experience until my tank replenishes. Flipping from on to off is not something you want happen with a session on the horizon.

Decades of photography has also left me with strong opinions on a variety of subjects.

Opinions like “street photography is non-consensual and creepy” and “if you’re shooting analog in 2022 you need to be stuffed in a time machine and transported to the 1980’s where you didn’t have a choice; let’s see how you like analog now” and “our venerated elders aren’t as good as we’re coerced into thinking, except for Gordon Parks and Paul Strand. Those motherfuckers are the GOAT.

Most of these heterodoxies will appear on my blog in time. Lucky you.

A few other things to know about me and my work:

  • I adore the female form in all its wonderful variety. If you don’t, stay quiet or GTFO
  • I learned to retouch, but now abhor the practice and believe it is contributing to an unhealthy perception of “perfection.” I will retouch to remove temporary blemishes and various subject requests, but if you want to look like a magazine cover I am not the photographer for you
  • No, I will not shoot your wedding
  • I’m a huge fan of the one-light setup. Master it and it’s the only setup you’ll need. Plus, it’s inexpensive to build a one-light kit
  • We are living in a golden age of photography. Cameras have never been better, lenses have never been better, and the digital darkroom is far superior to analog (and not just because it doesn’t smell like ass)
  • Seriously, the analog darkroom smells like ass
  • I turned pro for a bit and hated it, so I went back to being a hobbyist. I’m so much happier when I’m bleeding money than when I’m making it
  • It took a while to realize I’d rather be the best photographer my friends know than being the best photographer my town, state, or region knows
  • Pay your models. Something, anything, in cash or in kind. If you’re not paying your subjects you are not a “real” photographer: you’re selfish at best and a predator at worst
  • No one is making money taking photographs. Notice how every faboo photographer has one or more side hustles, such as selling tutorials or workshops or pre-sets? That because no one is making money taking photographs

Those are all Hills I Will Die On…

If I may be serious for a moment, in 2020 I exhibited my work at Yonder Bar in Hillsborough, North Carolina. I just revisited the artist statement I wrote for the exhibition it is as valid today as it was then.

Artist Statement, Yonder Bar, February 2022

“It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.”

― Paul Strand

Photography is my love language.

I am a photographer because of the joy it brings to my subjects, the joy it brings to the viewer, and the joy it brings to myself. Everything you see on these walls was taken for the love of the game. They were not taken with the intention to sell or with an eye towards marketability. They exist because of the joy they bring.

There are few things in life that make me happier than having one of my subjects beam when they see an image of themselves that I captured. That transition from nervousness to disbelief to recognition that, yep: that’s really them and they are fabulous! I live for those moments when people who don’t like to be photographed swoon and say, “I shouldn’t like an image of myself this much.” Well yes, yes you should.

I live for those moments when someone raves about a subject. When they want to know more, see more, experience more (but please – don’t be a dick). Many of the subjects on these walls are taking risks that they never thought themselves capable of taking and I love the positive, affirming response to that.

And in those quiet, honest moments, I love how photography makes me feel. In many ways I’m the last person you’d think would be a portrait photographer. I am an ambivert (a.k.a. “introverted extrovert”), so I can’t always predict when I’ll want human interaction. I am asexual, so my concept of what is beautiful or sexy or erotic ranges from atypical to nonexistent. I battle depression, and depression lies and tells you the things you enjoy aren’t worth doing. Photographing allows me to confront all of these sometimes annoying facets and keeps me connected with the world in new and interesting ways.

Photography is my love language. I didn’t intend for it to be, but I’m grateful to the friends who pose for me, the family that supports this madness, and you, the viewer. I hope that love shines through these works.

Thank you and I hope you enjoy my art.

Chris Ubik

February 2020