JONATHAN CHERRY: What did you want to be growing up?
SHANE TERRY: I think my first desire was to race motorcycles. My dad has always been a bike enthusiast, so I can thank him for that. He’d regularly take me to races when I was younger and show me pictures he’d taken at different tracks. I loved it.
JC: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
ST: I usually find inspiration whenever I visit my hometown. The last time I was back I found some photo albums in a box that my dad had made from trips to China and Japan in the late ‘70s that I never knew about. That was exciting. I’ve also been re-reading Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find. There’s this uneasy, cryptic undercurrent in her writing that just sticks with you. And I recently found a copy of Ken Price’s Works on Paper, which is really great. His sense of composition and use of colour is incredible.
JC: What are you up to right now?
ST: Lately, most of my free time has been spent putting together my first book, which should be finished by spring. It’s been a fun project, although I haven’t shot anything new in months. I’m also planning to travel a bit this summer to shoot. Other than that, I’m in school full-time at the University of Toronto, so that keeps me occupied.
JC: Have you had mentors along the way?
ST: Not really, no. I’ve never formally studied photography, though I was with a girl for a while who was very encouraging. There was a fairly long period where she was the only person who even saw what I was doing. That meant a lot. A few close friends have also been supportive and offered feedback, but that’s about it.
JC: Where are you based right now and how is it shaping you?
ST: I currently live in downtown Toronto, Canada, although I don’t think the city is shaping me in any significant way. I grew up in a small town, and despite occasionally traveling back and forth, my approach to photography hasn’t changed. I think I could live anywhere and it would be the same.
JC: One piece of advice to photography graduates?
ST: I’d advise anybody pursuing photography to just trust their gut and shoot what interests them. That, and try not to overthink things.
JC: If all else fails - what is your plan B?
ST: I’d say that taking pictures is essentially my plan B. It began as just a hobby that was unrelated to school or work, and even when it takes up most of my day, it still feels like a pastime. In terms of potential career paths, I’m not really sure. I think I could see myself teaching.
JC: Is it important to you to be a part of a creative community?
ST: I think it’s important, to a degree. Being around people who challenge you and allow you to challenge them is definitely a good thing. I think that’s probably the best reason to go to art school or whatever—to be around like-minded people. It’s tough for me to say, since I don’t know many photographers or artists. But, I have a lot of musician friends. Maybe I should get out more.