A classic street shooter in the great tradition, Craig Semetko uses his Leica cameras to capture images that transcend the moment. Born and raised near Detroit, Michigan, Craig Semetko became a comedy writer and performer after college, inspired by his “very funny father” and his love for Peter Sellers, Richard Pryor, John Belushi and Bill Murray. In high school he was voted Class Clown and he developed his photographic eye by making short movies for his classes.
© Craig Semetko
How would you describe your photography? What is your motivation or what are you trying to achieve in general terms with your photography
I would describe my photography as humanistic — I like people and they seem to be my favorite subjects. I don’t know that I have a conscious motivation with my work. I just see something that amuses me or moves me or interests me and…“click.” I try not to think about it too much. Thinking constipates things.
Were you a serious enthusiast before going pro? What made you decide to go pro?
Yes, I was a serious enthusiast for years. The transition to pro was sort of a natural progression. There wasn’t a specific moment when I decided to go pro. I started to show my work more beginning in 2007, and then in 2008 I co-exhibited with Cartier-Bresson at the Open Shutter Gallery in Colorado. The ball started rolling pretty quickly after that.
Co-exhibiting with a legend like Henri Cartier-Bresson sounds sort of wonderful and terrifying at the same time. Did you have any such mixed emotions and what was the experience like?
To understand what that exhibition meant to me you have to understand what Cartier-Bresson means to me. He was instrumental in my buying a Leica and becoming a photographer. The day I went to buy a big zoom lens for street shooting, the salesman handed me a Leica booklet that featured an interview with Cartier-Bresson and some of his work. I was hooked instantaneously. I bought all of his books, pored over his pictures, and tried to internalize his philosophy. To me he was “The Man.” I spent eight years looking for my own “decisive moments” and then one day I get an email from a gallery asking me if I’d like to show my work alongside Henri Cartier-Bresson’s. I literally thought a friend had hacked my account and was screwing around with me. But a couple months later I was at an opening night party with 25 of HCB’s prints on one wall and 25 of mine on the other. It was wonderful, overwhelming, and extremely humbling. I choked up more than once.
Dica de Paulo Amorim.