David Shama is a Swiss analog photographer living in New York. His photography’s trademark is that of authenticity and intimacy. His work is best described as documenting pieces of life in a cinematic narrative style. David has just released his first photography book titled “Do Not Feed Alligators” which is filled with original stills of his road trips and people he met.
How would you say photography has changed you as a person and how has your style evolved throughout the years?
I would say it hasn’t changed me much, but as the years go by, I have become more true to myself in my photography. When you begin, you want to become something, it’s still abstract, and so your style is a bit forced. As you become more experienced, you realize that you do the best work when you are not trying too hard. You still challenge yourself, of course, but you don’t care so much about what others do.
You have been to a lot of places; I’m sure you’ve had a lot of experiences. Which are your favorite places so far and why?
Yes, I traveled a lot it’s true. It’s hard to tell which my favorite is so far because I like a lot of places for what they bring to me. That’s what drives me to move so much I believe. If I was easily satisfied I wouldn’t; I would just settle. Right now I dream of going back to the Swiss Alps, I crave raclette and snowboard.
The sun plays an important role in your photography, and we all know it is very challenging to take good pictures under a lot of sunlight, but you always nail it. How do you do that?
Thank you. I love that, yes. I always shoot the same film stock and I got really used to how it reacts to light so I adapted to it. Also, film negative has a much better reaction to highlights then digital.
How do you pick your models? Is it people you know or do you usually work with strangers?
What I love is to approach strangers and ask them to take a picture, it’s scary but often rewarding, apart from that, the concept of my book was to travel with people I barely knew and get to know them on the way.
What is the equipment you use when you photograph? What are your favorite cameras?
I use many different cameras, but I would say my favorites are the Leica M7, Contax G2 and Pentax 67. All film cameras. Mostly natural light, I only use flash when needed.
A few months ago you released your new book “Do Not Feed Alligators.” Can you tell us a little bit about it? How did you come up with the title? What is it about?
Yes, I released my first book; it’s a very exciting experience for a photographer to put something out in the world. The book is about a series of road trips in the South (US) taken from 2012-2017. From San Diego to Florida, driving through all the states in between, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, etc…Always taking time, never taking the fastest road, getting lost. I took with me a newly met girl each time and together while getting to know each other we were documenting the strangers we met and the landscapes we crossed. The title came from countless signs we saw in these areas of swamps stating just that. It also became somewhat of a metaphor for youth and freedom.