"I’m still surprised how big The Selby's become"
"I’m still surprised how big The Selby's become"
2015-06-19 - We caught up with Bugaboo Friend Todd Selby, photographer and creator of the hugely popular blog The Selby, about what inspires his work.
So who is the man behind The Selby?
Todd Selby: “I was working as a photographer in New York when I started my blog back in 2008. The Selby was born as a way to explore my interest in people, interiors and photography. I was looking for a way to bring these things together in one place. So I started The Selby to photograph creative individuals and the spaces in which they live and work.”
Todd Selby (37) started off by photographing his friends in their homes as a side project, but the blog really took off and soon he was inundated with requests from people all over the world to be featured on the site. Now it’s pretty much a who’s who of the creative industries, spanning fashion, design, music, media and beyond, showing the interiors of everyone from shoe designer Christian Louboutin, author Tom Wolfe, to supermodel Helena Christensen. From Melbourne minimalism, to New York post-hipster cool, to TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie’s boat in Los Angeles, the blog covers all manner of aspirational interiors and attracts up to 100,000 unique visitors every day.
What fascinates you most about the people you portray?
“I’ve always been interested in people – especially colourful people. When I see someone, I’ve always been curious about what their home and their environment says about them. It’s all about finding those interesting characters and then documenting how they live. I’m still surprised how big it’s become. It’s been amazing for my photography career and has opened so many doors. It’s allowed me to work with brands like Louis Vuitton, FENDI, Nike, Airbnb, Hennessy and Heineken. And of course it’s enabled me to travel and meet people all over the world. The blog covers cities in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Europe and of course the US.
“Now I also work as an illustrator and a director, I’ve also written a couple of books, worked on countless editorial and brand projects - and just recently I’ve collaborated with Bugaboo to explore the lives of two New York families.”
I guess you were one of the forerunners in blogging – did you feel like you were doing something new?
“At the time when I started The Selby in 2008, there weren’t that many people making interesting content for the web. I got lucky with my timing. And I think it’s a basic human instinct to want to look into people’s homes and into their lives. Technology has given us greater opportunities to do this - Instagram has really tapped into this of course.”
What’s your style of photography?
“I didn’t study photography so I’m totally self-taught. When I first started out my pictures had a really different style. Over the years, my look has evolved. In the beginning, I was interested in formal 4x5 portraiture. Now my style is much more journalistic and snapshot. I don’t just stick to one camera, but use lots of different types depending on what I’m trying to do. So I use Canon, Leica and sometimes Sony cameras. Two of my favourite photographers are Bruce Weber and James Turrell. Turrell’s installations and use of colour and light really inspire me. My photography has been published in titles such as Vogue, Architectural Digest France, The Observer Magazine, Le Monde’s M Magazine, Casa Brutus Japan and The New York Times Style Magazine, T.”The Selby's Instagram - clockwise from top left: illustrator/artist Stephen Smith at home in London; French model/singer/actress Lou Doillon at home in Paris; Missoni brand ambassador Margherita Maccapani Missoni at home in Milan; Colin Tunstall, creative director Saturdays NYC at home in New York.
No doubt you’ve been asked this like 100 times before, but what does your own place look like?
“Ha! I used to be much more of a collector. But over the years I’ve seen so much of other people’s homes I have simplified my own environment. I love coming home to a blank slate.”
What is it like to travel so much? Has it changed your worldview?
“I love to travel – it’s what I do. And doing what I do means that you get to see a place through the eyes of a local. What I’ve learnt from this is that although cultures seem different from the outside, people are people. In fact I’ve discovered we have more similarities than differences.”
What do you take with you when you’re on the road?
“I keep it simple. All I need is my drawing kit, laptop and a camera.”
How would you like to be remembered? What will be your legacy as an artist?
“I believe my legacy as an artist is really about promoting understanding and acceptance of all different kinds of people. The more you know about the rest of the human race the more you respect and accept other people. That’s what I’d like to be remembered for.” The Selby's Instagram - clockwise from top left: Todd Selby in Bora Bora; a photo Todd Selby took in Morocco; Shiro Nakono, character designer at home in Tokyo; Carla Sozzani, Italian gallerist in her gallery.
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