When did you start photographing?
I always took the family camera on trips. I didn't really start concentrating on photography until I was about 14 or 15.
What is it about photography that appeals to you rather than any other medium?
I suck at drawing, so it was the easiest thing to pick up and still be able to express myself.
Your work is primarily documentary, and especially of street photography. How do you reach the "decisive moment" (as made famous by Henri Cartier-Bresson)? Is this something you are consciously looking for or is it something you stumble on and hopefully you have your camera with you?
It’s definitely the latter. I just try and walk around and find moments. Hopefully I have my camera with me. I was taught to always have my camera with me for stuff like that. I’ve definitely come across situations where I wish I had it and didn’t. I try to just let moments happen and hopefully I’m there to catch them.
What camera do you use? Do you prefer digital or film?
Right now, I’m shooting with a Canon 5D. That’s digital. I use that pretty much out of ease and expenses. I would ideally like to shoot film. Going on an around-the-world trip and carrying around hundreds of rolls of film is just not practical though.
What’s your favorite lens?
I have a 50mm 1.4 which is the classic street photography lens. This whole series was shot with that.
The title of your show reflects your journey, “Around the World in 17 Days”. You went to Japan, China, Egypt and France. Why only 17 days? That’s crazy!
Partly because of expenses. Partly because I am crazy. Partly because I went with another friend of mine and had to be back for work.
How did you choose to go to those specific places?
We pretty much just picked the four places we wanted to go to the most and that’s what we came up with.
Could you talk about your travel partner?
My travel partner was my friend Al, who is….I don’t even know where to start.
You know Al. How would you describe Al?
That gives a good visualization of Al. Kittens and keytars. We’ll leave it at that!
Can you share your favorite story from the trip?
Oh man. There are a lot. My favorite….oh man. Some are really long!
Oh man. Going to Egypt was crazy, in general, especially because of what’s going on right now. Looking back on that…and we were just there….
Some brief highlights:
Al getting hit by a guy riding a horse with his horsewhip. Not on accident.
Bribing police to have a child tour guide.
Riding the only subway in all of Africa
Going through 5 metal detectors to see the Egyptian Museum, which was not all that it was cracked up to be.
What country / place had the best food? What was it?
I’m vegan, so my food options were limited in a lot of places. I would have to say China was the best. They had a bunch of all vegan Buddhist run restaurants that were awesome. One in particular was called Pure Lotus. It was one of the fanciest restaurants I’ve ever been in. We had an 8 course meal and it was about 13 dollars.
What’s your favorite subject to photograph? I know you shoot a lot of bands too.
I haven’t done that in a while. I primarily used to shoot a lot of band photography, but not so much any more. Now I pretty much just shoot people and environmental portraits.
What subject matter would you like to photography but haven’t yet?
That’s a good question. Just more interesting people. I’d love to travel more and meet people in different countries.
What kinds of things in a scene cause you to photograph it? Is it the design? The absurdness? Emotions (either the subjects or your own)?
All of those, really. For a lot of the street scenes, I definitely gravitate towards geometrical shapes and patterns, but also a person’s expression or someone doing something ridiculous too.
Any new skills you’d like to learn?
I’d like to learn how to surf.
Any places that you’d like to go next or go back to?
I’d definitely like to go back to Japan and spend more time there.
In each place, we only had around 4 days, give or take. So, having more time in Japan would be great. As far as going somewhere new, I really want to go to South America. That’s my new next adventure.
How do you feel about this trip being so quick? I can imagine there would be moments that you’d just like to stay in one place and immerse yourself into it, more than just an observer or tourist.
Al and I didn’t want to leave and go to the next place. We were excited to go to the next place, but we were just getting into the swing of things after four days. So having to get up and leave again kind of sucked. We wish we had only picked, maybe, two places and then just spent more time in each.
What was the best part of the trip? The worst part?
The worst part was probably some of the crazy stuff that happened in Egypt or Al getting his phone stolen in France.
The best part was seeing new things that I had no idea existed. And totally immersing yourself into cultures that you know nothing about is really exciting.
Did you have a goal to achieve by the end of your trip? A certain project in mind to photograph?
Try to have as much fun as possible and take lots of pictures.
I didn’t really go on this trip as a photo trip. I just wanted to go on this trip and the photos came second hand.
How many tattoos do you have?
Oh no! A lot! I lost count.
When did you get your first one?
When I was 18.
Any favorite tattoo artists?
Ryan Spahr at Black Thorn Gallery in Mechanicsburg
What music are you listening to lately?
Currently I have a cd demo from this band called Reservoir from York. They just put out the demo and they’ve played one show. It hasn’t left my cd player for a week.
Are you reading any books? Magazines?
I’m currently in the middle of about 5 books. I always find new books and start reading them, then I find new books and don’t get to finish the other ones.
I’m reading this one book, it’s called Straight Edge and Radical Politics. It’s about living a straight edge lifestyle, which means you don’t drink, don’t do drugs or smoke, and having that mindset while participating in radical politics. It’s a pretty interesting book. It has a lot of interviews with people from all over the world.
You’re vegan. Do you like to cook? Any recipes to share?
I love to cook! Yes! I make a really good soup.
Do you have any other hobbies besides photography?
I play in a few bands and tour around the country a lot. It kind of goes hand in hand with my photography.
What was it like being in San Francisco to go to school for your MFA in photography?
It was really great! I wish that I still lived there, especially when it’s this cold outside. I’m going back in March to visit and I can’t wait.
What’s the art community like there?
The school art community was good. I found it really hard to get involved in the more professional aspects of it. It’s such a big place and there are so many big names. So, it’s hard to get your foot in the door.
What’s your five-year plan?
My five year plan is to go to as many new countries as I possibly can, go to the two states I haven’t been to yet (North Dakota and Alaska), and try to get a teaching job teaching photography.View more of Chris's photography on his website: www.chrisbavaria.com