Bonjour, Hola, Howdy y’all! I’m Shelly Simon – a busybody babe thriving and suriving one of the world’s most famous concrete jungles: New York City. I lay my head in Brooklyn specifically and do work across the five boroughs of this beehive.
“It comes in waves – and you ride it out.”
Shelly Simon for Slow Culture.
I am a blossoming entrepreneur – a photographer, journalist, drummer and designer. As a queer female creative working in mainly male dominated fields, it’s important that I use my platform to highlight my community at large! Originally from a small surfing city (Charleston, SC), I moved on up to NYC in the fall of 2015 to pursue my passions of radio, photography, music and more.
Sidenote: I drum in an all-female all-queer band called Tiides (our music sounds like what you would listen to while laying on the beach; laughing crying and feeling it all) which keeps my sanity in check.
M: Your camera captures bands, street art, people, parties… Is it important to you to not be limited to one field? Why?
S: I was once complimented for my continuous effort to showcase my community (LGBTQ+) yet was reminded how essential it is to be inclusive. Meaning – I typically aim to work with the community I serve yet I am open to shooting all peoples, writing of various topics and playing music on bills with bands of different genres. It’s important to know yourself, stick to your sentiments but also be open to new things. Some of my best shots I’ve taken in the least expected of places.
Less expectation means more freedom with the things you cannot control.
M: We live in a world where everyone has a camera in his pocket. Do photographers still matter?
S: Screw you – we still matter! After having my photo printed [from my inpromptu 24 hours in Paris] in a magazine – I really began to understand how essential it is that we are still out there, capturing the choas through our cameras. [I flew to Paris for a day to shoot my NYC friends in the band Boytoy for the female drummer magazine, Tom Tom Magazine. I jumped on the amp and captured the shot.] Once the magazine was in my hands and I could see, smell and feel the paper upon which my photo was printed – I knew I was doing the “write” thing.
M: Your motivation seems unbreakable. Does it feel like work?
S: It’s work if I let it be. Being able to financially support myself with my artistic pursuits hasn’t happened completely yet – so there are times where each email I send (and I send a lot!) just feels like seeds into the ground; hoping at least one sprouts. I want to make this my career, which makes it work, but it’s work I enjoy doing. Perhaps it’s my personality; but I want to be working for me who is working for the world.
M: Capturing moments is something personal. How does it feel to reveal your own vision of the world?
S: Honestly – for a person who talks so much – it’s a relief to be able to relay my interpretations of the world through a photograph. It’s a perfect metaphor for my personality. To capture something in a single, fleeting moment to then be cherished forever. You have to be intuitive of your environment – meaning knowing not only what your shooting but also knowing yourself. Every touch to the shutter button is a firing of a gun, essentially. Every shot counts. (glasses clink)
M: Is it hard to stay focused on your art when you are surrounded by entertainment?
S: My art is capturing entertainment! For the most part – the shows, events and happenings are all fuel to my fire. I’ll lower my shield and admit – it is a lot to be out and about constantly capturing the concerts and the community but it’s worth it. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Leaving on a positive note: it’s essential to have a community of fellow artists, hustlers, music-makers, shape-shifters, dream-weavers, ruthless radicals, recluses and rock & rollers to lift you up because it ain’t easy; and if it was it wouldn’t be fun.
The title of this interview is inspired by the song “Waves” from my family/friends of the Charleston band, SUSTO – taken from their sophomore LP “& I’m Fine Today”.
Because as a freelance photographer / artist / musician / writer / lover / whatever – we deal with life in waves, and learn to ride the tide.
Compiled by Marc Louis-Boyard.
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