BEHIND THE LENS: Interview with Chicago-based photographer, Colleen Durkin

Colleen Durkin is a badass. She rides motorcycles, photographed Nirvana in the summer of 2013, and most recently collaborated with writer Remy Ramirez for "Thank You Have A Nice Day". It was only fitting that we delve deeper into her work as a photographer and artist.

LESLIE CORPUZ: How do you like living in Chicago? Describe your neighborhood. Are you in the suburbs or in the city? COLLEEN DURKIN: “I love Chicago. I live and have a studio in Humboldt park, it’s definitely not the suburbs. Picture The Wire with amazing food.”

LC: Just from looking at your photos I can tell you're a frequent traveler. What's the most recent trip you've taken and do you always bring a camera with you? “My last trip was New Orleans with my lover. We rented Harleys and toured the bayou. We got to experience everything wacky in Louisiana. I always take too many cameras with me traveling. I shoot with the same old same olds, and bring a lot of back ups.” 

LC: Who or what inspired you to be a photographer? “I was in high school, and the girl I had a crush on was in a photo class so I signed up too. Everything I did in that class was to impress her. She was such a badass, so inspiring. She hung herself that year, and that stuck with me for a long time. So did photography.”

LC: What catches your eye when shooting a particular person or thing? “Movement and mood. Some people have it, some don’t. Working with someone who does is a dream. Playing choreographer and photographer is difficult but necessary with those who don’t. It’s definitely been an acquired skill.”

LC: Where do you draw your inspiration from? “Everywhere. I love color.  Experience life and things come to you. Inspiration is something you let build in you, it can’t be forced. I guess what I’m saying, is if I tell you, it’ll be dead.”

LC: What's the most memorable shoot that you've had? (Not necessarily saying that it was your favorite but I did see that you shot Nirvana – that's fucking sick!) For sure, you get it! I got to shoot Nirvana for the re-release of In Utero. We drank whiskey, talked about Christian porn (Pat Smear really knows his Christian porn), and listened to “Serve the Servants” over and over. They asked me out for pizza, I froze and made up some, “I’m busy, I can’t” excuse. WHAT THE FUCKKKKK!!!!”

LC: Is there a photographer that you would love to shadow and why? “Yes, Les Krims. If I could only tap into that brain and get what he gets, life would be so good. He’s always been a huge influence in my work and composition.”

LC: If you could shoot any campaign whose would it be? “Gucci Gucci Louis Louis Fendi Fendi Prada.”

LC: Digital or film? Why? “Both, always. I mean, digital is fantastic but if we got some turnaround time and some budget, for sure let’s shoot film!”

LC: What projects are you currently working on? “I’m working on a children’s drag-inspired shoot. Picture Divine seen through the eyes of Lisa Frank with a G rating.”

LC: I strongly believe in the power of Manifest Destiny, what are you currently manifesting into the universe? “Sensual Peach...the world needs more of it everywhere.”

LC: What's your plan for world domination? “Do you mean world submission? I’m all about that.”

Photos printed with permission by Colleen Durkin from her "Angel Dust" and "LIV" series

Follow Colleen Durkin on Instagram at @colleendurkin


Leslie Corpuz Leslie is the Fashion Editor at SUSPEND Magazine.