10 Questions With Cheyenne Beverley
Photography literally means “to write or draw with light.” When you take a look at Cheyenne Beverley’s work, you can see the story behind the moment. We sat down with her to learn a bit more about her creative process and life in New York.
Mad Girl’s Collective: How do you find your inspiration?
Cheyenne Beverley: I get inspired from long walks alone, moods, and feelings that I’m stuck with. Being forced into a box and having very little to work with makes my brain work harder, and I really like being challenged and figuring out how to work with what I have.
Do you ever have days when you find it hard to feel inspired? What do you do?
Often. I wish I could learn to turn my creativity on, but I can’t. It’s a tough cycle, but luckily I love wallowing in pity. When I’m getting down on myself for not being creative, I take those self loathing feelings and turn them into something I can look at.
What’s your creative process?
Usually starts with some half hearted journal entry or a new thought that I’ve never had before. If I can’t get it out of my head, I find a way to get it out so that I can look at it. My best and most honest images were made when I wasn’t in a good place. I let the feelings hit me and try to make something out of it.
There’s a quote from your mom on your website that really struck a chord with me. She said, “You can take a good photo anywhere Chey, just have to know how to focus on the good things.” Where are some weird places you’ve found inspiration by focusing on the good things?
Yeah, thank you. She is such a beautiful spirit and has always been so supportive of me. Experiences, good and bad, are growing tools. The bad things you’re feeling don’t last long. You can have a pity party or an opportunity. it’s best to let them hit you while you focus on the growth that will come from it. Old wounds, betrayal, nihilism, ex-lovers, and old friends have all shaped me into who I am, and I’m grateful for the lessons.
Do you remember your first camera? What kind of photos did you take with it?
My mom got me a point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix when I was in high school. She was a single parent, and we didn’t have any money so it really meant something for her to get me that. I mostly used it to take pictures of our farm animals.
Then, when I was 20, I got an Aires Viscount. It’s a Japanese camera from 1945, and when you focus it the viewfinder doesn’t change so it’s just a guessing game. I loved that camera. I’ve taken some portraits of my cat on it before she died. Finally, I put it away and forgot all about photography until about 2 years ago.
How has your work evolved over time?
I’m finding out who I am, more. I’m learning to put more feeling into my images. When I started, I had no idea what kind of photos I wanted to take.
Do you ever experiment with different mediums?
I like writing and watercolor painting. I wanted to be a musician before I took up taking photos. Somewhere out there, there are some terrible song covers on youtube.
What advice do you have for creators who are just starting out?
As long as you’re learning and growing, it’s a good thing if you don’t like what you’re creating yet. It takes time for your skill to catch up to your taste. I was patiently bad at it, and still sometimes am. Living for critiques and brushing off compliments is a great way to grow.
Where is your favorite place to shoot in New York? Least favorite place?
The best thing about this city is that it is changing all the time. I love touristy places in bad weather: Coney Island when it’s windy and freezing, Brooklyn bridge when its snowing, Chinatown when it’s pouring rain. It feels so luxurious to have the place to yourself and be able to fire away while you listen to your tunes. Least favorite place is Times Square.