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An Interview with Sela Shiloni

An interview with the ever-colourful Sela Shiloni, talking photography, colour, and the internet.

sela shiloni photographer interview header

Stained with colour, soaked in sun, Sela Shiloni’s images pop. He often captures his subjects in a state of surprise, almost like they’re being caught by him doing something they shouldn’t. Part portrait, part surrealism, many images seem like frames from a film, especially when filled with faces we’ve seen on the silver screen before, but also seem to slyly comment on the ridiculousness of celebrity and the excess and editorial glamour that is so often portrayed by mainstream media. "This is how you should look" written next to an image of Beyoncé donning the cover of Vogue contrasts Sela’s photographs of a Baywatch star dumping a bucket of oranges over his head. Sela’s absurdity and unique sense of humour in the images come across as a way of countering the sleek, innocent L.A. lifestyle and showing the more ridiculous, and likely honest, side of it.

Sela’s photographs present a unique acid-dyed snapshot of the world with its candy-coloured visuals and glittering glaze that make you stop and pay attention. Check out Sela's work here.

sela shiloni jon bass photograph

TBS: Who do you see as the ideal audience for your work?

Sela Shiloni: The ideal audience for my pictures is probably people in their 20s and 30s who are in some way involved with or just generally like art / entertainment.

What other pieces of art and artists inspire your work?

I’m very inspired by movies. Even though it doesn’t really show in my work a ton, I’m very inspired by people like Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. In photography, I’m inspired by Tyler Mitchell, Miles Aldridge, Ryan Pfluger, my friend Nick Rasmussen, and weirdly… Cole Sprouse… [I'm] not really ever thinking about influences while shooting. Definitely thinking about style, but mostly just thinking about what looks cool in the moment and what will be fun in the edit.

Do you make an effort to have each photograph feel recognizable to your own style?

Only when I'm shooting outside in a less controlled aesthetic. Yes, I make an effort for every photograph to be recognized, but that’s mainly for portraiture and editorial stuff. I do other types of photography that people wouldn’t be able to recognize, and that’s calculated. I’m not trying to be Sela Shiloni the BTS stills photographer. I want to experiment more with 35mm and 120mm film and expand the scope of my stuff to go beyond the color-blocking thing everyone knows me for. I do worry about each photoshoot living up to the last though.

sela shiloni portrait photograph

Why choose photography over other forms of expression?

I like photography better than filmmaking (the only other thing I’d really want to do) because it’s more immediate, less stressful, and again, less reliant on an entire team of people performing at peak capacity for 15 hours a day. Also, easier to make a career in. Also, easier to teach yourself. Photography being a Solo Medium is one of the main things that drew me to it. I enjoy being self-reliant. 

Have you ever thought about doing cinematography?

I've done some. It's fun, but I prefer to work alone and cinematography is the most collaborative process ever.

Is that not ironic for a portrait photographer to say?

[It's] a little ironic but as a photographer, I have complete control over everything. No one is in charge of the set or lighting or directing except for me. So it's not collaborating in that regard. Also, I have no idea how to color-correct video which is another big issue.

Luckily the black and white worked well for that video then?


Finally, we connected through Instagram. As the landscape of publishing photography is changing, how do you personally incorporate social media into it versus print media?

Social media is the only reason I make any money. It’s crazy and obnoxious how important it is to building a career. Publishing is a different animal. I’ve been published in a bunch of magazines, but those gigs always, without fail, start with someone seeing my shit on Instagram.

sela shiloni brie essrig photograph portrait

Photography by Sela Shiloni


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