The Fantastical Moods of Chris Rivera

Since high school, internationally acclaimed photographer Chris Rivera has had a passion for photography that has lead him down a mystical path of fantasy and the unknown. His photographs are immensely evocative and force a psychological response from the viewer. His skill at editing transforms his photographs from visual stills to narrative fables. The serenity exhibited in them washes over the viewer and transports us to his magical world.

Tell us a little about yourself. How did your life as a photographer begin?

C.R: Now that I’m older and my parents have told me stories about it, I’ve found out that I have been raised around photography from ever since I was a kid! My mom had a Pentax film camera, and my dad was a videographer doing weddings and events. My dad had a point and shoot camera and always wanted to take snapshots of us, which irritated me the more I reached my teenage years.

Fast forward to senior year in high school where a friend of mine wanted to shoot a mock wedding, so she could get her practice in and make it a fun day with friends! I decided to help her out and model, and I just watched her go to work. I was surprised especially at the fact that my friend was able to take photos with a “professional camera” (which to me, back then, was a camera with a shutter that had a manual focus). That same friend held a photo club in school that year, so when it came for me to graduate high school, I was able to afford my first DSLR and started shooting like crazy. I didn’t get into the fine art game until 2 years later, but I’m glad I decided to experiment with my work!

Photo Credit: Chris Rivera

How did you develop your unique aesthetic?

C.R: My aesthetic moved drastically from macros and just photos of anything to more portrait-based work when I decided to challenge myself to a 365-day challenge, where I would take a self-portrait (or portrait) every day and post it to my Instagram! Once I dove into the fine art/conceptual photography world, I just decided to dabble and experiment with whatever quirky idea that I had in my head.

Could you describe your creative process for us? How do you take an idea from conception to completed piece?

C.R: Of course! I like to section my work into two main categories: multiple exposure portraits and fine art portraits. My multiple exposure work tends to be more of a free thing, really. I’ll do what I feel. As for my more detailed work, I’ll either have it drawn down in my idea journal with some very intricate details of a photo, or I’ll have such a strong feeling for an idea in my head that I create on the spot—I then take my photos in Photoshop and shabam!


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Photo Credit: Chris Rivera

What is the particular significance of images and symbols in your work?

C.R: The significance of symbols in my work probably come from my life. A lot of symbols in my photos include being possessed by ideas, freedom, and being unique and one-of-a-kind, and they all somehow relate to my life and how I’ve grown into the person that I am—realizing that I, like everyone else, am an awesomely unique person and that what I bring to humanity could inspire others. So, my symbols really show what I’m thinking and gives the viewers insight into not only my life but their own!

How do you approach the different forms (for example landscape, portraits, etc.) your work takes?

C.R: I approach landscapes differently than I do portraits. With landscapes, I see them as a background or setting for a photo that I can edit in photoshop, rather than having to bring a model to that exact location. When I take portraits, I approach them with more importance. When I have a concept in mind, I really try to pay attention to how I want the model to pose, what they’re wearing, their facial details, etc.

Photo Credit: Chris Rivera

What kind of narratives or stories do you like to convey through your art?

C.R: There are plenty stories and narratives that I love; I even have a series that continues a story from a photo that I wouldn’t have thought of pursuing. Examples of my narratives vary between characters witnessing mass cosmic events (“Sublime Disruptions”), planning revenge on their king (“The Angered Sorcerer”), and the telling of two lovers whose souls continue to love each other while they take on different bodies in different times (“Forever: On the Run”). One of my favorite narratives is from my “The Looping” self-portrait series where I play a wizard who tries to fight with these dark beings that try, and succeed, in turning the character evil. I’m not finished with the series yet, but be on the lookout! 

For a full mindmap containing additional related articles and photos, visit #photography

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Photo Credit: Chris Rivera

What would you cite as your inspiration behind your work?

C.R: There’s so many things that I find inspiring. Things I would cite though include: minimalism, Harry Potter, Inception, dark tales, myths, religious tidbits, different cultures, and nature (especially birds). There are also a lot of songs, more specifically hip-hop and rap songs that inspire my work and my feel.

Photo Credit: Chris Rivera

Which artists do you admire? How have they influenced you?

C.R: I love so many of my artist friends and they all inspire me in life, but there is some photographers that really inspire me, visually: Annie Leibovitz and Brooke Shaden are the two who have brought me into the art world. I love how both artists bring a different aspect to the fine art and portrait game; Annie brings a more commercial and fashion-forward approach while Brooke’s dark stories and elegance brings a life of its own! I look after them immensely.

What would you say is your favorite piece of your own work and what does it mean to you? 

C.R: Oh man, that would be a tough one! I love all of my work pretty much equally, but if I did have to choose a favorite it would be “Fields of Red.” It was really fun to edit and I loved how everything was coming together! When I look at it, it almost reminds me of military wives: how a woman will wait for her love to come home and keeping the fire extinguished! As for it being my favorite, I honestly change my “favorite” for different interviews that I do! Haha!

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Photo Credit: Chris Rivera


To learn more about Chris Rivera follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Periscope: chrisrivera, LinkedIn, Behance, 500px, Pinterest and Snapchat: chrsrvra

 Chris Rivera Instagram

About the Author /

Ameera Khorakiwala is a recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College where she majored in Art History and South Asian Studies. She loves to read, travel and find the perfect lighting for her Instagrams. A lifelong inhabitant of Bombay, India, she is particularly interested in reading and writing about Indian art, politics and history.

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