Charlie Chich | 5 Minutes With

Celebrating the talent and ingenuity of the creative industry during the on-going pandemic, this week we catch up with Charlie Chich, the London based music and fashion photographer / creative director who has racked up some impressive collaborations with the likes of Lava La Rue, Ashnikko, Moonchild Sanelly and Lianne La Havas to name a few. Originally a musician in Brighton, Charlie had a natural passion for music but following an unfortunate illness which left him unable to play, Charlie picked up an old camera, reignited his love of creativity using photography as a therapeutic outlet and hasn’t looked back since. Staying productive during the current climate, Charlie has adapted and evolved his work in an effort to stay creative through the pandemic with FaceTime shoots.

Read on as Charlie talks us through his journey in photography, gives us a sneak peek of his new FaceTime project with Glowe, shares his lockdown routine keeping him sane and advice for emerging photographers.

Hi Charlie, tell us about who you are and what you do

Hi there, I’m a freelance photographer based in London, who fell into the profession after a mishap of events. I used to play in a band based in Brighton, but unfortunately had to quit after getting really ill. As I got better, I decided to pick up a camera and the rest is history! After a few years of shooting with models and small brands, I teamed up with my management, Digital Picnic and I found myself falling back into the world I love. Music! Now, my main focus is building relationships with artists and creating the best content I can for their campaigns. 

How did you get into music photography, have you always wanted to be a photographer? 

I’ve always been intrigued by cameras, but if I’m honest I had no intentions of being a photographer. Having invested 4 years into my own music career with the band, I was forced to stop and take a few years out of life due to contracting lymes disease. This caused neurological problems (among other issues), which meant I had to stop playing. It put a stop to all my creative outlets! Picking up an old camera and being outdoors, was the first form of escapism I’d had for 3 years and I haven’t put the camera down since. 

You’ve shot some incredible acts like Lianne La Havas and Ashnikko, who’s your favourite? 

Shooting Lianne La Havas was dope, as her music means a lot to me and she was such a pleasure to work with. But I’d have to say either Carl Barât or shooting The Game at the O2 Forum Kentish Town. I grew up listening to his tunes, so having the opportunity to take his picture was surreal. The whole thing was just a mad energy and a shooting experience I will never forget.

Lava La Rue was also really cool, shooting live shows is a very exclusive experience and I love doing it.

How do you connect with your subjects on shoot? Do you have any go-to methods to help your subject feel more comfortable in front of the camera? 

Good music and homework! I’ll always look into an artist or model beforehand to understand what they’re about. It’s really important that the energy in the room matches what I want to create. A pop act or a rapper will require very different versions of energy. Ensuring someone’s at ease and feels comfortable is always the best way to capture a moment, so being confident and relaxed goes a long way. I like to work in the moment and make sure things don’t feel too serious, this tends to get the most out your subject.

What’s your favourite thing about photographing live shows? 

Getting lost in the moment for sure – I love music and used to be the guy on stage, so the nostalgia really sucks me in. When it’s an act you love or listen to anyway, it’s amazing to be responsible for capturing a moment special to them. There really hasn’t been a time when I wasn’t  buzzed after shooting an act’s performance. You’re experiencing the gig from a completely different perspective to the crowd and  it’s an amazing feeling!

Outside of photography, what inspires you?

Music, fashion, food, nature. There’s so much to gain from taking in everyday life! Watching other individuals and artists out there doing their thing always keeps me inspired. I love the idea of creatives elevating themselves through community, whether it’s in music, art or food etc. Ultimately, it comes down to the world being so unpredictable, there’s so much to draw from it!

How are you handling the lockdown? Has it affected your work? 

I’ve actually just done a small project with artist, actor and singer Glowe about what gets her through lockdown and we agreed it’s given a lot of people an opportunity to reconnect with their childhood. 

Frustratingly, there isn’t much shooting to be done, as we rely so much on the ability to work face to face. So lockdown is as good as it can be, stir crazy some days and inspired on others. It’s interesting seeing everything change so dramatically around us and how people are adapting. It’s especially hard when the sun’s out and we know we could be out shooting and creating! It’s a time  to master some new skills and dig through the archives…..being stuck at home and coming up with new concepts, as well as  developing new skills, is a chance we will probably never get again!  

Whats the last book you read? Or podcast you listened to?

I’ve just finished ‘I Am Pilgrim’ (an amazing book) and I’m currently waiting for a delivery of  ‘Astrophysics for People in a Hurry’, by the awesome Neil deGrasse Tyson. There’s no one better to blow your mind about space! 

Podcast wise, I’m normally a big fan of The Joe Rogan Experience, but I’ve actually just been listening to “X With A Hidden Illness” by Izzy Utterson, which I’m actually featuring on for episode 3. It’s a great insight into understanding what living with a chronic or invisible illness is like. 

Tell us about your quarantine routine? How do you stay creative? 

The creative process normally starts with music and coffee. For me, I’ve got to be in the right mood. Listening to music and flicking through photo books, album artworks or Instagram normally works. Planning shoots is a bit tricky these days, so doing my virtual shoot with Glowe was good fun and another new challenge. It’s very much being thrown in the deep end and learning new tricks to keep that creative muscle flexed. 

How do you think the Covid crisis will affect the creative industries in the long run? 

We are already starting to see the effects and realising how much can be done from peoples’ rooms. It’s forced individuals to get really creative and I hope this extends into normal life. I’m optimistic the lockdown is going to be relaxed soon, so let’s hope these new and positive creative juices continue into the working world. I’m hoping there will be an explosion of new ideas and more boundaries being pushed.

What’s the first thing you’re looking forward to doing after quarantine? 

A photoshoot with all the summer colours involved, but otherwise it’s got to be the Pub with mates or a holiday!

What advice would you give to emerging photographers looking to get into the industry?

In the normal working climate, I’d say shooting as much as possible, knowing where your influences come from and understanding exactly what you’re trying to achieve in your work. This is a process that can take years (i’m still working on it), but if the focus is there then the consistency will follow. It’s honestly such a bizarre profession, as taking the actual pictures is such a small part of it. Networking, being in the right place at the right time, knowing the right people and a lot of patience are so important. Trust in your work and once you’re confident enough, be as loud as possible! Quality over quantity is of course important, but it’s about getting your work in the right place. Pick up a camera and start shooting!

Follow Charlie on Instagram

Interview: Genea Bailey