Local Photographer Spotlight: Chris Tyre

Local Photographer Spotlight: Chris Tyre

Posted by Caroline Janes on 24th Jan 2022

Letting his creativity shine through several outlets, local photographer Chris Tyre is talented in multiple disciplines, from photography to graphic design. I chatted with Chris via email about his photography, burn out, and his overall career journey so far. 

How did you get started in photography?

Chris Tyre: Organically. It was never, "I want to be a photographer when I grow up". But as a kid in Chicago, my grandfather had a photo studio and darkroom in his basement. (Not knowing any better, I just thought that was something grandparents in the early 90s had in their basements to photograph their grandkids.) I think that laid a base layer though, looking back.

In college, I really got into street photography and was very inspired by photographers like Garry Winogrand. At the time, it was just a creative outlet for me outside of trying to become a corporate graphic designer. In late 2009, I sold my first photograph as fine art and also had a photo published in a book. From that point on, photography became my side hustle. My business, Nomad + Camera, became an LLC in 2016 and despite the pandemic, I had more shoots in 2021 than any year prior. It's been awesome to grow this passion of mine.


In addition to photography, you also do graphic design work and art direction. In the creative advertising/marketing space, in what ways has having knowledge in multiple disciplines benefited you career-wise?

CT: Honestly, they are all so interconnected for me that it's almost hard to separate. Graphic design has impacted the way I think about white space while shooting. On shoots, I'll actively think about how text and graphics could interact with the subject and space. Unsurprisingly maybe, my design and art direction tend to be vey photographic based. It wasn't until I worked at a creative experience agency in Austin, where we'd hold weekly design critiques, that I noticed that about my work.

As a freelancer, it has allowed for opportunities that I may not have otherwise had. Over the past year alone, I've had multiple clients reach out to me for one service, either design or photography, which eventually lead to work in the other. We built a rapport. I'd understand their project, brand, vibe and it would lead to more creative work while still having that same point of contact, me!

How do you think having a background design and branding makes you a better lifestyle photographer?

CT: It's significant and it gives me more of a holistic approach. Maybe it's my graphic design side coming out, but I care about the craft, the execution, and the purpose of a project without getting lost in the "art". The shoot is not about me. It's about listening and then creating badass work that accomplishes my client's goals. I ask a lot of questions before I start working. Especially "why?". As a young creative, I didn't want to waste people's time by burdening them with too many questions. But entering a project with a "blank canvas" is garbage. Being intentional with questioning early on not only builds trust in your client relationship, but it creates a framework so you can concentrate your energy in one direction instead of it being fractured in "possible" directions.

How do you maintain a work-life balance and avoid burnout?

CT: Let me get back to you on that one. Ha! I'm very passionate about the work I do, so I'm no stranger to putting in long hours. I had a son in late February 2021 so that has made me rethink work-life balance and has naturally helped me build in more family-time. For a chunk of my 20s I was very anti-routine. I felt like that only led to you becoming a hamster on a wheel. But what I've come to realize is having set times for creative work, meetings, exercise, socializing, etc. has helped me be more productive and focused in those boxes of time so I'm able to achieve better balance and a freer mind.

Idaho-Wedding-01.jpg  Idaho-Wedding-02.jpg

How do you switch gears creatively when going into a more brand-centered commercial shoot versus a more emotional couples or engagement shoot?

CT: That's a great question. I never think about it as "switching gears". While there is a lot more of a sentimental nature tied to an engagement shoot than a corporate one, that's more on my client's end. My mindset is consistent. I'm bringing the same level of creativity and enthusiasm for either type of shoot. I think about what are my client's objectives, what types of shots do I want to capture, what type of gear/lighting/lenses do I need to execute on location while also leaving space for spontaneity and candid moments.

I saw that you offer polaroid photos in your services. What draws you to these kinds of photos that have a reputation for being finicky?

CT: That's the best part. They're imperfect, yet still fun and exciting to take. There's something very human about that. In this time of instant gratification and constant scrolling through social media, Polaroids are social, yet tangible. There's anticipation built into the process. They are photos you can feel.


I understand you’ve done an extensive amount of traveling. Is this where the name Nomad and a Camera comes from? How has traveling inspired your photography?

CT: Long story short, yes. From 2013 to 2017 I lived in Chicago, Australia, Chile, and Texas and traveled to about 30 countries in that span. Definitely living my best digital nomad life!

Travel has really made me appreciate and make a special effort to "capture local". What's unique about a particular place. I mean the architecture, the plant life, the street food. The subtleties that initially attract you to a location, but become mundane when you stay there for a while. It's those elements that I try to capture to give my photography work a sense of time and space. I think extensive travel makes you extra attentive to those details and realize they're not quite as monotonous.


What has been one of your favorite projects to work on to date?

CT: Of late, I've really enjoyed capturing live music. But a favorite project to date would be a short film I shot that premiered in Chicago in 2013 called "P.S.". It was amazing to collaborate with such talented creatives in the indie Chicago scene. Completing a short film and having it premiere is an achievement in itself, but I was particularly pleased how the film poster turned out. It's about a bizarre and mysterious relationship between two neighbors in an apartment building. The pupils of the woman's eyes looking through the blinds are actually an image of her neighbor through a door's peephole. Got to use the full arsenal of art direction, graphic design, and photography on this one.

What are your go-to pieces of equipment?

CT: If I have a Canon in my hand and a tri-lens holster on my belt, I'm in a good place. I'm currently primarily shooting with a Canon 5D Mark IV.

Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share?

CT: Definitely some cool ones in the early stages right now, but nothing I can share... yet ;) 

You can find more of Chris's work on his website and Instagram