An Interview with Chris Suspect

Kids playing in the sand at the Mount Rainier Nature/Recreation Center. Photo courtesy of Chris Suspect. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Chris Suspect’s day job focuses on audio, but you’d never know it from his photographs.

As a new media content creator, the Hyattsville resident oversees six science podcasts, but in his spare time he is a street photographer. He’s also done paid photojournalism and taken pictures at weddings, events and corporate gigs.

You can see some of his best work at his blog, Suspect Device, or here on the Hyattsville Wire, which has used Creative Commons-licensed images from Flickr.

In an email interview, Suspect talked with us about his passion.

How did you get interested in photography?

I am relatively new to photography in terms of actually making pictures, but I have been fascinated with images starting in the mid 80’s when I was purchasing punk rock records by the likes of the Dead Kennedys, The Clash, etc. What drew me in was the cover art on their records in which the photos made a statement, conveyed a message, set a mood or alluded to something much more than what was being depicted.

In fact I probably bought a lot of records based on the photos on the album rather than my knowledge of the music contained within.

I picked up an actual still camera a few years ago when I got interested in DSLR video. The problem I had with operating the DSLR for video work was this little button called ISO. I had no clue what it was as video cameras don’t have that function. So in learning how to work the ISO feature, I got hooked on taking pictures.

You’ve taken a lot of pictures around Hyattsville. What are your favorite spots around town to find a good shot?

The truth is that good shots are everywhere, you just have to look. However, some spots have their advantages depending what you like to shoot. If you like to take images of people Hyattsville has lots of public events from the city’s monthly Summer Jam series, carnival at Magruder Park, historic house tours, etc.

Route 1 is a great place as well if you like to capture the juxtaposition of the new development in the area against the old car dealerships and take out shops. In fall, the woods of Magruder Park are fantastic. My favorite though is shooting during sunrise and sunset in Ward 1 and Ward 2. The light on some of the historic Victorians and bungalows can be fantastic at this time.

Where is your favorite camera shop in the area?

I don’t really have a favorite per se, some are good for different things. ProPhoto on 902 I Street, NW, DC, is great for repairs and vintage gear. I usually get my film processed at Calumet/PennCamera on 840 E St., NW, DC., I have begun to make contact sheets and print my own stuff in Baltimore at FullCirclePhoto on 33 East 21st Street, and for just hanging out, taking workshops or viewing photos, the new LeicaStore on 977 F Street, NW is fantastic.

What kind of cameras do you use?

I have been primarily using a 1974 Nikon F2 for my personal projects. I often shoot bands with a Lomo LC-W “toy” camera and flash, and for commercial photo and video work I use a Canon 60D DSLR and a Canon XHA1s HDV video camera.

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