Snapshots of Chicago with fashion photographer Billy Rood

By , June 1, 2009 8:00 am

Billy Rood is an extraordinary photographer who runs on Redbull and coffee.

Billy Rood staring at his future

Billy Rood staring at his future

While he doesn’t cook or clean much, he spends a lot of time doing fashion photography, blogging, and creating films. He is in need of constant change and improvement, focusing on refining his eye to continuously improve his work. We sit down with Billy to get a better perspective on his life and his favorite places to go in the great city of Chicago.

Uncovering Billy Rood’s talent

F: You create movies, music and shoot photographs. Is there anything that you don’t do?

B: Yes there’s lots of things I don’t do! I rarely cook or clean but am learning! I love to learn and be creative so I try to do as much as I possibly can. My next goal is to learn French and read more current events. I work so much I tend to lose myself from the rest of the world and immerse into only what I’m experiencing. So thank God for internet or else I’d be behind!

F: What is it like being around beautiful models all day? Is it possible to make them look bad?

B: The truth is that I’m not really around models all day. I have a few friends that are models, and yes they are beautiful but its not what you think. They’re just as flawed on the inside as everyone else, but they have a very beautiful surface to cover it.

Yes, it is very, very possible to make them look bad. It’s a real skill to make models look even more beautiful than they are in person. It’s even harder to photograph them in a completely different way than what you see everyday. You have to know what you want and have an idea of how to do it. But that’s why I love it, it’s a challenge and a real collaborative effort w/ both the model and my team.

F: If the world ran out of memory cards and light you would:

B: Well I would definitely do something to change that! But if there was no light, I’m sure I would figure something out. But really I think I would become a writer. I’ve always been interested and have written some scripts, so that would be another goal to accomplish. I also have a passion to be a filmmaker so nothing can destroy that.

F: How would you differentiate your style from other photographers?

B: That’s a very good question. I’m not quite sure how to differentiate myself quite yet. I’ve only been shooting for the past 6 months so I’m still developing my style. I’ve been told by fashion photographer David Leslie Anthony in Chicago that on the average, it takes 2-5 years of shooting before one starts to develop their own viewpoint…After I heard his influential wisdom, I started to challenge myself to accomplish my style in every shoot I do.  I have much developing to do!

But if I had to describe it I would say subtlety and emotion. Dreams are also a huge inspiration. Images and emotions appear in my dreams and I use photography and filmmaking to kind of express them.

Fashion photography courtesy of Billy Rood

Fashion photography courtesy of Billy Rood

F: Biggest frustration as an artist?

B: My biggest frustration is not shooting. I always need to be busy. I’m a workaholic. I need to be developing myself continually. Either shooting fashion, events or weddings; I take every experience to push myself. When I am not doing that or see other artists not pushing themselves to their highest potential I get extremely frustrated. It’s like, WAKE UP! I believe everyone has a gift and sometimes it’s hard to push people to believe in themselves because they make it about you, instead of realizing everything they have experienced is because of their choices.

F: Tell us about your film Moira, what is about and what is the objective behind it?

B: The purpose of this film is really my relationship with God. I have a love/hate with it. The film is really about family and how faith can either bring or pull each other apart. Death is a major reason for the loss of faith and I also believe that religion is also a huge issue with psychological disorders. It’s really a mind-fuck if you think about it.

We believe in something we have never really experienced or seen and this blind faith can sometimes be deceiving. So this film has all those issues and conflicts. But it’s based around two brothers, a priest and an artist who lose their parents in a plane accident. They both have 2 extremely different lives and personalities and the question and situation I put them in is how can faith and God somehow bring them together? What will their life be without faith, what would it be like with it?

The objective for me and the film is to really push the idea of religion into films and make it interesting. I also want to make it entertaining, because that’s the point of films…to entertain.

F: What do you see yourself doing 20 years from now? What role will photography play in it (if any)?

B: 20 years from now! Well I see myself doing what I’m doing now but bigger and better. Films, Fashion, Photography, and Living Extravagantly. I tell myself that if I’m exactly in the same place a year from now I should kill myself. haha. A bit dramatic but I strongly believe that change is a good thing and if you can create a vision for yourself and do whatever you can do to get there, you will accomplish it.

I hope to be in a place of comfort and family. I’m so young right now its hard for me to even see that for myself. But in the next 5-10 years I hope to settle down and start a family. 10 years from them hopefully have this whole other life, God knows where?!

Billy Rood’s life in Chicago…

F: Where can we find you in Chicago?

B: You can find me at my studio and office off of the Granville Red Line at figmedia. Or working from home in my new condo in Rogers Park.

F: Favorite place to take photographs in Chicago (that isn’t the bean):

B: Late night photographs of me and my friends just out on the town. Nothing can beat those candid moments.

F: What is your favorite cuisine? Where do you go to get this in Chicago?

B: I love all kinds of food. I haven’t found a favorite spot yet but the recent restaurants I’ve been to that I’ve liked are Takashi on Damen, Tallulah in Lincoln Square, Over Easy for a Sunday Breakfast on Damen, Karyn’s Raw & Billy Dec’s new Sunda Restaurant. All extremely good.

F: Favorite drink?

B: Redbull & coffee – with an even amount of water lol.

F: Best thing to do in Chicago during the summer?

B: cruise down lake shore drive on my way to the beach or a nice dinner downtown.

F: You wish Chicago had…

B: An art collective like Paris or New York. I cherish being around creative artists and want to be a part of that kind of movement here in Chicago. There’s a small one but it could be much, much better.

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