Dreamheart Spotlight #23


“When someone is born with a talent and they throw it away due to fear or self doubt…. is my biggest pet peeve”, said 32 years old, Self Taught photographer, Chris West.  “We’re all put on this Earth with a bag of tools.  If you believe in yourself there is nothing you cannot do. One brick at a time, you build. Don’t fear. Don’t doubt. DO…”

This Baltimore Maryland resident tracked his first camera experience back to the age of eight.  “My first camera was a 35mm Ninja Turtle camera,” he said.   “I started off shooting friends birthday parties for cake.”

Chris later graduated to bands at around the age of fourteen attending and photo journaling DC’s HFStival annually.  In his early years, he captured anything, from skateboarding with friends to band practice in the basement.

“Funny thing is, I never really knew what it was back then,” he said. “I was just taking pictures. I don't think that it ever clicked to me what I was subconsciously becoming. A South East Baltimore kid soul searching, trying all these different routes to become whatever it was that I was supposed to be in life. Lo....the answer was in my hand.”


Despite his early exposure to this destined career, it still took awhile for Chris to realize his passion.  “There was a period of time that I really didn’t shoot at all. There was a lot of overwhelming life changes that were taking the place of any type of creativity in my life. I’d say from around ’97 to 2005. In ’05 I was living out west and I came home for some much needed vacation and at the time I didn’t even own a camera of my own. I remember I bought 5 disposable cameras and when I got back to Baltimore, I began taking shots of everything that I missed. Everything I wished that I could take back with me. The things about ‘home,’ that were no longer around.  When I returned from my trip, I remember running to get the film developed as fast as I possibly could. When I looked through the shots I had taken with just a few disposables, I was intrigued.”

“ I always wanted [to pursue a career in photography]”, he said.  “I spent a decade of life in the electronics field working on Life Safety and security systems for the government. That in itself was a career a lot of people would have killed for but I was just burnt out on it. Interesting career to say the least and it served me for a time but as much as I enjoyed what I was doing and the people I worked with, I just never really felt like that was what I was supposed to be doing. I had something else I wanted to do. Even the guys in my field would ask me…’Why are you here? Why are you doing this? You could be doing THAT!’ So in year 9 of that career, I just decided to do it. You miss
100% of the shots you don’t take so I built the site, (now under reconstruction) www.80WestStudios.com, put my foot to the floor and haven’t touched the brake since.”

Chris’ favorite quote is from Buddha, “ …All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”

“I just do what I do and so far so good. I’m much happier these days”, he laughed.
“Honestly, the people that hold the least self-confidence [is what I enjoy most about this field]. Being able to show someone what they look like through someone else’s eyes and how beautiful they are…that end result when you get to see their jaw drop and they say, ‘Wow, that’s really me,’ means more to me than any other part of what I do. It’s bringing a happiness and confidence to someone in who they are that they’ve never had. When someone comes to me for a professional shoot but I can tell that they lack confidence in the outcome, it becomes a mission for me. I get tingly inside.”

Chris’ special style is truly original and cannot be duplicated.  “I actually have a physical defect that makes most of my work look the way it does”, he said.  “ I ‘tune’ a photograph until it looks ‘normal’ to me and then I add my twist from there. Sort of a gift and a curse.”

“Possessing the ability to balance the eccentricities of an artist with the stresses and responsibilities of an entrepreneur [makes a good photographer]”, he said.





Want to know more about this Dreamheart?

To find out more about booking Chris or just "stalk" him because of his charismatic awesomeness:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/80weststudios
Fan page: www.facebook.com/80westfanpage
Website: www.80WestStudios.com


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