Christopher Armstrong is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Armstrong started off taking photos with a 35mm camera, but has transitioned to using his iPhone and, last year, won the ‘best abstract photo’ award at the iPhone Photography Awards.
What has your professional career as an artist looked like?
After completing my post graduate in fine art in 1993 I entered the digital industry as a programmer which has been my bread and butter for all these years. This job being a mix of logic and creativity has been a perfect fit for my skills. I have pursued my art practice outside of work and this usually involved photography, sculpture and online experiences. Most of my art has been ephemeral by nature and I’ve always tried to live an artful life.
Have you had any shows or exhibits?
I have never really felt like I wanted to exhibit my work, but this changed as I approached 50 and I was working on a series I had become extremely passionate about. This kicked off a couple of group shows and I won the 2017 IPPAwards Abstract category (https://w w w. ippawards.com/2017-winners-abstract/).
What are some of your artistic influences?
Wow this is a big one as there have been just so many influential artists and photographers at various points in my life.
When I was at art school it was all about people like Minor White, Ansel Adams, Joel Peter Witkin, Laurie Anderson, Cindy Sherman, Sophie Calle, Fiona Hall, Andy Goldsworthy.
Today I always searching to find others that inspire me and who are passionate about what they do, people such as:
benoit_paille, mishkush, k_koenning, mark. kimber, _adey_, toddhido, aymankaake, frielphotos , to name a few on instagram.
What are some of your personal influences?
I grew up bushwalking and fell in love with nature, I’ve always considered this my church, a place to recharge and connect.
Do you work in any mediums besides photography?
I love drawing, sculpture and ceramics but only when the time permits.
What is your favorite artistic medium to work in?
I think photography has been my go to medium but put me on a beach or riverbed and I’ll be making sculptures within minutes so I really just try to create when the time permits.
Seeing moments and capturing them is a truly magical life affirming experience and photography gives me that. With sculpture it’s a connection with nature, objects and the tactility of the medium that excites me.
What (or whom) do you take photos for?
I have always taken images for myself and shared them with those close to me, but as I age I
have been wanting others to see what I do as well.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Cape Town but grew up from the age of 12 in Tasmania. I feel like I found my sense of place in the wilds of Tasmania, bushwalking.
How do you think your childhood experiences have influenced your photography and your eye for images?
I feel like my childhood was full of bright light and landscapes from a car window. The era of super 8 home movies, swimming pools and the African veld.
Do you prefer taking photos on digital or film?
I really don’t have a preference.
I really love the magical process of film photography with its tactile process but the convenience and immediacy of digital makes image making really easy and accessible which is great. I think I’ll return to chemical process at some point but for now I’m enjoying a digital exploration.
You won the IPP award for a photo you took with your iPhone. How do you feel cell phone cameras have changed the art of photography?
When I first started photographing I lugged around multiple lenses, a tripod, flash and various other bits and pieces. So to now have something always in your back pocket when the a moment arrives is very liberating. Everyone now has a powerful camera/video recorder with them and so many more people participate in the act of image making creating great diversity of vision and reach. Along with this vision is an a plethora of digital manipulation tools which allow for playful and professional interpretation of the images with an immediacy not imagined before. Distribution and feedback are just a click away and a community that fosters and encourages this allows us all to flourish and creative expression to amplify. We live in an amazing time and the reach and impact our our images cannot be underestimated.
Do you feel the increasing quantity of photographs and amateur Instagram photographers are improving the field and art of photography, or not? Why?
All of todays images foster visual appreciation, on Facebook, Reddit, Instagram and so many other social networks. This democratises image making and raises our general appreciation and awareness of what is good and what is beautiful. I think photography is the most important medium of our age partly because it is so common place and ubiquitous, but also because of the power it wields. When I was growing up in Tasmania there was a seminal image of the Franklin river that turned the tide of a nation to protect the wilderness (Rock Island Bend. Franklin River, South West Tasmania, 1979 by Peter Dombrovskis), these images and even those taken today by amateurs can have great power to shape our world.
If you could supplement your photographs with one message to your viewers, what would it be?
Life is truly magical and don’t take anything that falls into your eyes for granted.