As a young woman whose many talents “grew up together” Christy Schnabel was raised in and around the LA indie music scene, writing and singing in a band while working on film and music video sets. She began her relationship with the camera after the births of her two daughters when the requirements of motherhood made pursuing music and film difficult. After a time she realized she could put the same raw, emotional elements she put in her songs, into the frame of a photo. Her no-frills approach – a fixed lens and an openness to the moment achieves mood inducing imagery. To access her subjects candid, authentic moments, she often closes in on them from a distance to capture their sights on the world, their emotions, and their vulnerability. Christy is inspired by these spontaneous, unedited moments in combination with more formal elements of light, composition and color which make her photos of faces and spaces resonate.
What inspires you to photograph?
The moment…how the elements of light and atmosphere and mood come together and react with a subject…what kind of intangible I can capture inside the four walls of a frame…something candid, something real and true…something that transcends, a transcendent moment...beauty….mood. Atmosphere, mood, tone, color, light…the way the light is coming through the clouds, or just clouds in general, quality of light often is the first thing that inspires me…then just capturing a person in that light, a candid moment, a reaction to the light…how they react to it, how the two things, the outer and the inner feed of each other, the reaction of the outer world and the inner world of whoever end up in front of the lens.
What is your favorite subject to shoot?
I shoot people in a candid environment, I go out walking, if I am inspired by the light and the mood of day or the night, and then I find the subject who is reacting to that environment in a way that talks to me, that tells me this moment is something more than just an average moment, I shoot anyone I see that inspires me, but often the people that are already in my life are easiest to take advantage of, I take the opportunity to shoot when and where I feel inspired.
If you had to choose a specialty/focus/style what would it be?
Candid portraiture, a subject in an environment… and also nature, trees, but portraits of trees, almost like my portraits of people I am just looking for a feeling a mood a moment of truth (documentary style, humans, etc).
What role does your music/musical side play in your photography?
When I was playing music, my lyrics were like little stories, like poems trying to capture small moments of truth, in that way I feel like my photos are doing the same thing…attempts to capture small moments of truth.
How did growing up in LA influence your work?
The environment, the weather, believe it or not, the clouds, the skies, the trees and then how the diversity of the people here react to it…I don’t want to show what everyone already knows about LA, the stereotypes, but the actual real people here, walking down the streets, reacting to the landscape, the trees, each other, the street life…I don’t want to see any more people posing for picture, I don’t want to capture any more falsity, I just want to wander the streets and find a small moment of truth.
Those small moments of truth become so much more powerful.