A world away from obsessive Instagramming and posed party pictures, photographer Chad Moore’s images are joyful, unselfconscious snapshots of friendship, love and youth at their best. Moore captures his friends scaling billboards, sneaking into swimming pools, going on road trips and undertaking random group activities (like showering) while naked, in shots by turns exuberant, mischievous and sweetly romantic. Moore escaped Tampa Bay, Florida (leaving behind the remains of a half- completed business degree), via an insurance windfall from a car accident involving illegal Mexican immigrants, and came to New York to work for legendary photographer Ryan McGinley. Although there are hints of McGinley’s colour- saturated paeans to youth in his work, the 25-year-old Moore documents a different generation of downtown New Yorkers, bringing a sincerity and innocent playfulness to his work that is completely his own. Here, Moore explains the story behind one of his favourite photographs, a picture of two old flames reunited for one night.
“I took the photo one night secretly. That’s my friend Zach and this girl Melissa that he’d dated in high school, but they hadn’t seen each other in years. In Chinatown there’re all these rooftops, and the building doors are open downstairs. A few years ago, we would all go to our friend’s bar around the corner and then go up on the roof. There was a billboard where we’d sit. But that particular night, Zach and Mel had somehow reunited randomly in the city. They ran into each other and she didn’t know he lived in town – they hadn’t seen each other for years. They were supposed to come up to the billboard with us, but they went off by themselves. I live with Zach – we have this weird loft in Soho and Zach’s room is like a darkroom. I came home super late and I opened Zach’s room and turned on the light. I guess they’d just had sex or something and they were kind of out of it. I just took a photo right there. I thought it was a nice moment, you know? It encompasses a lot of elements that are in all of my photos: youth, love, intimacy. I don’t want people to think about it as sexual, because although some of my photographs feature nudity or people kissing or having sex, I think it’s more innocent. Mel had to go the next day. She lives in Spain or something now and my buddy Zach doesn’t know how to use a computer, so they don’t really keep in touch, but it was a nice story.
Everyone I photograph is a friend really, I feel you can tell that by looking at the photos. The person in the photo kind of lets their guard down. People are used to it, they know my role. Some of my friends are like, ‘Quit taking photos! What are you doing?’ I guess it can get kind of weird always having your photo taken. I like having these memories. And even though they’re really personal, I know other people can relate to them. They’re about nostalgia, definitely, even imagined nostalgia. A lot of people in my photos, now they have full-time jobs, they’ve had to grow up a little bit. So they can look back and remember, ‘Oh, that was so much fun, I wish I was still like that.’ It’s the idea of documenting a certain time in someone’s life. You only get older, I guess.”
A new monograph of CHAD MOORE’S work will be published by Glassine Box in August, accompanied by an exhibition in New York. BETWEEN US is out now, published by Pogo Books