At the beginning of the 00s, before a trip to Europe, Californian photographer Sunny Suits was given a camera by a friend. The ritual of capturing relationships and experiences on film changed her life – today she is an artist with a debut solo
At the beginning of the 00s, before a trip to Europe, Californian photographer Sunny Suits was given a camera by a friend. The ritual of capturing relationships and experiences on film changed her life – today she is an artist with a debut solo exhibition under her belt, The Wild Heart at New York’s Daniel Reich Gallery, until 28 May. “I took snapshots as a way to keep a memory, something for myself, and I didn’t think too much about it at the time. Now I think about it constantly,” Suits, who lives and works from Paris, tells AnOther. “I have very little formal education so I put pressure on myself to improve. I want to give people something to be touched by or a moment to lose themselves – before it was just for me, now I am sharing these moments with people.”
Growing up in California with the sounds of Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and The Doobie Brothers “in the air”, Sunny’s style education initially came from her sister. “She had the best high-heeled clogs with lots of Gunne Sax dresses and cowl neck sweaters; knits and tweed. It was Zepherelli’s Endless Love in her closet.” Yet today, it’s tight jeans, an old oversized T-shirt and a pair of heels that “always looks simple and great. I don’t know if that’s the rock and roll thing or the California thing but probably a mix of the two. With a bit of New York City and Paris thrown in.”
Published here and included in The Wild Heart, subjects Ian and Tommy are cited by Suits as “incredibly stylish. They look unlike everyone else and they just had this great spirit that came through in whatever they did. Tommy sitting in his kitchen is one of my favourite photos. His girlfriend had just left him and he was a bit lost. The shirt he is wearing has lived between him and Ian for years I think. The picture of Tommy lighting up in the rain was taken the day he turned 30. It poured all day.” Also featured in the show is Andy, an old friend from New York City who sings in Thieves Like Us and French DJ and producer Chloé. “Andy’s picture was taken in a cafe next to a really horrible apartment I had in Paris,” Suits explains. “He ended up sharing the misery of that apartment with me for a while. Whereas Chloé and I spent the afternoon, and the evening actually, drinking at the bar in this great hotel on the left bank. This is the one that came out.”
Having been inspired by the Boston school and on one occasion photographed by Nan Goldin in couture, Sunny has simultateously enjoyed working for more classical photographers such as Mary Ellen Mark. It’s no wonder she has such an authentic, holistic approach to life and art. Fellow artist and friend Paul P., who won recognition for his charged, evocative male portraiture, inspired the title of Suits’ exhibit. “I was watching music videos in my kitchen and he showed me a video of Stevie Nicks singing Wild Heart at a photoshoot whilst having her make-up done. It’s incredible. The next day I pretty much decided on that as the name. I’ve made a soundtrack that plays all day in the gallery, part of the narrative. The daydream when you lay in bed or stare out the window whilst listening to music, remembering things because of a lyric or a song and those images come back.”
Sunny is currently enjoying the latest Marianne Faithfull record, which is “just wonderful, she has such a great body of work. She tells the story and she’s true, I really respect her. Wiith photography I need to be touched emotionally as well. I have pretty classical tastes and am not a fan of bullshit. I need some depth, I love reality. A great character and intimacy are usually a good combination for the making of an interesting photograph.”
Sunny Suits: The Wild Heart, until 28 May, Daniel Reich Gallery, New York, 10011.