Last fall, we had the pleasure of connecting with Wesley Taylor, a portrait and lifestyle photographer based in Chicago, IL. We love Wes’s vision of helping people “celebrate the things that make life worth living—spending time with those you love; enjoying good food, drinks and music; and creating a home that refreshes and reflects who you are.”
How did you choose photography as your creative medium?
I’ve always been interested in photography. As a child, my favorite Game Boy game was the Camera attachment, that allowed you to create and edit grayscale photos. Fast forward to college, I got my first DSLR camera and really started exploring. I eventually worked in the school’s marketing department, which gave me all sorts of experience shooting different things, the opportunity to learn from my coworkers and use all sorts of new gear. I honestly haven’t looked back since—it’s been such a fun journey.
How has photography changed the way you look at the world?
Photography completely changed how I view the world around me. Even if I don’t stop to get the shot, I notice composition everywhere. It’s sometimes annoying, but usually incredibly life-giving. I especially feel that getting my start in the early Instagram days helped hone my eye—I often take note of simple scenes that harken back to those days. My goal is always to capture the heart of the moment, and that’s taught me to appreciate when my camera’s not in hand as well.
What goes into your creative process?
It always depends on the type of project, but definitely includes a moment of inspiration, leading to experimentation and eventually creation that I’m proud of. My favorite way to create (when I have time) is to start a project, leave it for awhile and then come back to it. New concepts or answers to tough questions often come when I least expect them, when I’m driving around or working on something completely different.
Who / what is your biggest creative influence?
I’ve really become inspired by nature lately. Noticing the way plants grow and stretch, the colors that show themselves as flowers and stems dry, all the lovely tones you can find in a furniture piece made from a solid piece of wood. In addition to the natural world, I’m heavily inspired by other people. Working with folks in their element helps me focus in on my own strengths, and it’s such a beautiful thing when those moments turn into something special that you’ve created together.
How have you navigated life — in general and as a photographer — during the pandemic?
Generally, lots and lots of plants. I’ve added 30+ plants to my apartment this year, and I’ve really enjoyed the learning process of keeping them all alive. On watering days I throw on a record and go to town, which makes for a great escape when the world is just too heavy to face. Happy to say I’ve been successful with most of them, but talk to me again after their first Chicago winter.
In the creative sense, I’ve started shooting more at home—which has taught me so much, including the importance of switching things up. In the last couple years I fear I’d become very stagnant in my decorating, leaving things one way for way too long. But now that I’m forced to stay in the house, it’s been fun to switch out pillows, art pieces or plants to keep things interesting. I’ve tried to carry that concept over into my work as well, trying angles I wouldn’t normally or not holding too tightly to a concept when it’s just not working well.
What did 2020 teach you about yourself?
2020 taught me that I really love people, for starters. It’s hard for me to limit my interactions when I get so much life from being with others, even if nothing special is happening. On the flip side, this year has also taught me that I’m stronger than I realized. I booked my biggest project to date this year, and executed it on my own at home; I’ve already started to shift the way I think about being and working alone, which helps me appreciate moments with others even more. This year has been filled with so much darkness, but I’m hoping it will be the start of so much light, as well.