Behind The Lens: Shawn Shuttlesworth
Hailing from NYC, African-Mexican American creative Shawn Shuttlesworth captures the world from his perspective. The photographer-content producer is immensely passionate about his craft—describing the artwork and practice as a testament to his current growth as a person. Growing up in New York, Shuttlesworth stumbled upon the passion and like many, curiosity fueled him to pursue it full-time and step out of the box.
Now, based in Brooklyn, Shuttlesworth finds a way to reinvent the mundane as a spectacle. Through series like The Flex: NYC Nightlife and City of Angles: Places and People, he invites us to experience the world in a completely different way—one filled with an unfiltered yet eye-grabbing look on things we overlook. Through his latest ventures with Bask, Shawn is continuously capturing Black love and fun through parties and events in New York amongst other things. Oftentimes using film as his medium, Shawn can be considered a photographic curator especially as he occasionally steps in front of the camera.
For Behind The Lens, Shawn Shuttlesworth talks to us about pursuing fashion, dream muses, and advice for young photographers! Check it out below.
What inspired you to pursue photography as a profession?
Before I thought of it being a profession, it was my #1 passion. When my mom would drive me to school sometimes I’d always be excited for blue skies because that meant I could look at clouds as we drove by. And they made me want to take pictures of them. Then after that? I just kept going and exploring the craft.
What kind of narratives do you explore in your work as a photographer? How has lifestyle and fashion photography allowed you to express certain themes?
I try to explore and expand on the concept that people are canvases and living stories. Through movement, lighting, fashion, and real-life experiences, you have a lot of variables that when used properly can create an entire world from the ground up. Fashion, in particular, plays an important role because as you get deeper into the world that is fashion, you find a lot more avenues to help tell a story or present an experience to viewers.
Please could you talk us through some of the overarching themes in your work?
Honestly, anything that evokes emotion. I like to tell stories and there are a countless number of them. From funny interactions at events to more personal and serious conversations during late-night drives. Any theme or story I try to display in my work is always meant to make the viewer feel something. Something relatable, something real, something personal that social media most likely made “boring.”
Can you name a few creatives or muses you hope to work with one day and why?
Leonardo DiCaprio, he’s my favorite actor and I have some concepts I’d love to do with him. Missy Elliot, she’s a legend and I’ve always loved everything about her. She’s amazing. Will Smith, Omarion, The LES Twins, Sade, Tyler the Creator.
Do you believe that formal training is necessary to thrive as a photographer? Any advice for those on the self-taught route?
Absolutely! Formal training includes a lot of small and technical details that when used to their full extent give you the ability to create whatever you want in this world. For the self-taught route? Trial and error is your best friend. The more you explore your settings and your equipment, the more you create a mental database of techniques and lighting situations for various instances.
I feel like as far as your work goes, you’re constantly exploring new territory and stepping out of the box. Where do you see your trajectory going in five years?
In five years? I plan to be living in Los Angeles creating a name for myself using my captioned photography, to be honest.
Are there any other exciting projects you’re working on right now and what’s up next for you?
Yeah, I’m working on a script for some short stories I want to create. I plan to spend more time in LA starting in the new year.
If you enjoyed our chat with Shawn Shuttlesworth, peep our interview with London shooter Nirah Sanghani!