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Meet the Artist

Spencer Cotton

When did you decide that photography would be your full-time pursuit and what did you do before?

I moved to San Francisco in 2011 to study graphic design, and picked up my first dSLR camera to document the beautiful scenery and culture around me. I quickly became obsessed with being behind a camera, and I often integrated my imagery into the projects I worked on in my college courses.

I started using Instagram shortly after picking up a camera, and I’d post photos almost every day. Posting regularly on social media got me noticed by a few brands, and in 2013 I got a full-time job offer as lead photographer for a San Francisco-based jewellery company. At the time, I was beginning to feel less passionate about design, and more interested in pursuing photography. I happily accepted their offer, which I consider the beginning of my “professional” chapter in photography.

What was the first camera you owned?

The first camera I owned was a Sony VX1000 (video camera) that I bought in high school. I was really into skateboarding back then, so I bought this specifically to document skating. The first dSLR camera I owned was a Canon Rebel Ti dSLR with a kit lens that I bought in college.

What’s been your favourite commissioned project to date?

Tough to choose! I loved working with LRG Skateboarding Apparel in Thailand and Cambodia (2016). This was my first legitimate lookbook I shot/directed. Such a cool experience working on the other side of the globe with full creative control…

You have a very versatile portfolio! What do you feel is your strongest area or area you like shooting best?

Thank you! I enjoy photographing people more than anything. I love the challenge of shooting subjects on location, and I think this could be considered one of my greatest strengths.

In regard to what I enjoy shooting most: I feel most passionate when I’m using my camera to tell a story, and I’m very drawn to telling stories that involve motion. Regardless of whether the subject is a person, automobile, or whatever else – my favourite images tend to contain an element of movement.

I think this joy of mine roots back to when I initially picked up a camera in middle school to document my friends skateboarding. I’ll always love photographing people with an active lifestyle…

What was your first ever Instagram post?

Haha great question…I think it was a long exposure self portrait I took on my first dSLR in San Francisco circa 2014. I thought it was really cool at the time because my body is only half visible…it’s basically an attempt at taking an artistic selfie on a tripod, but I have no shame in it!

Would you say social media has a big effect on your work and career?

The impact is undeniable. Social media is what got me noticed by brands that may have never considered hiring me for a project if I wasn’t posting.

Tell us something unusual about yourself!

I have a double uvula. It’s kind of disgusting. Maybe my next artsy self-portrait will capture my double uvula in all its glory!