Christian Weber is surprisingly buoyant and upbeat for someone who cites influences like Joel Peter Witkin and Francis Bacon. His enthusiasm abounds as he describes his photographs, undeniably inflected by his dark inspirations. His portrait series "Becoming" captures people's oddly distorted faces, warped as they're caught mid-motion spinning their heads. Another upcoming project, "War," layers those same images for a painterly effect that is undeniably Bacon-inspired. Both grew out of a campaign he shot for BBH/London for Go Organics pasta sauce, which illustrates the "punch" of the product via boxing-inspired scenes.
The fluid segue between commerce and his personal work is perhaps one of those things that keeps Weber's excitement flowing. "I'm trying to mold my advertising and fashion as much as I can into my artwork," he explains. Weber, 31, originally intended to go into fine art, briefly attending Southeast Center for Photographic Studies in Florida. The reality of everyday life and a growing appreciation for editorial work led him to paying gigs in fashion. He eventually uprooted to New York, where he assisted Albert Watson for but one day before deciding solo was the way to go. After 10 years, Weber is now a formidable player in fashion, with spreads for Details, Rank, and Werk. Last year, he made a significant ad breakthrough with the global "Yes" campaign for Intel, out of MVBMS, which includes an array of scenes he captured on a 10-day shoot at the Intel HQ.
As his ad career burgeons, he's reaching that enviable plateau where paid gigs don't necessarily mean sacrificing one's vision. Weber recently shot a campaign for Liberty Mutual Insurance, featuring people caught in coverage-demanding snafus. After hours, an inspired Weber stayed on set to photograph an impressive collection of quietly powerful yet slightly off-putting scenarios. A man swings a two-by-four up from water in a flooded room; glass flies in a crystalline shower as the man smashes a bat into a car's rear window. Weber's landscapes are equally arresting. Miami resorts and Pennsylvania subdivisions glow with an eerie, pristine beauty in two personal projects. Shot at night with long exposures using the existing artificial and natural light, the typically populated landscapes seem recast as miniatures in a surreal, empty dollhouse world, full of the sugarcoated darkness seen in the work of David Lynch, another of Weber's muses. "I want people who see my pictures to be a little uncomfortable about them, because if they aren't, then the pictures are not successful," he says. "They're not striking an emotion. The worst thing would be for somebody to look at my pictures and say, 'Oh, I don't really feel anything.' Whether they really like it, or really don't like it, that's good. I would rather have somebody hate something than not have an opinion about it."