If the home is the treasure chest of living, as Le Corbusier suggested, then Todd Selby might just be the greatest treasure hunter of our time. California born and New York based, Selby worked as a lifestyle and fashion photographer before becoming tired of the “perfect shot” – in 2008 he began www.theselby.com, a site that has become globally cherished, a place for him to showcase the spaces and places he finds which appeal to him – real ones, with a good dose of “creative chaos and collage”.
From friends to founding fathers, Selby has shot them all; surfers and models sit alongside the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Olivier Zahm, and many of Selby’s subjects have never let media behind their closed doors before. Blessed with an artist’s eye for detail and a distinct lack of pretension, Selby specializes in sniffing out the little things that mean the most in a home; family photos, prize collections and flea market finds are what he’s after . He is famous for his dislike of minimalism and commercially styled interiors – a recent New York Times profile on Selby was titled “The Rich and Boring Need Not Apply”.
Highly addictive and ever-changing, theselby.com features work that Selby shoots exclusively on digital and without lighting or assistance , but he has proved he can pull out the big guns when he needs to and has been commissioned to work on special projects with Louis Vuitton, Hennessy, Colette in Paris and with Helena Christensen for Paris Vogue. In recent times he has become more involved with film as a medium and has shot special film projects for Tom Sachs and Mitch Alfus, Leather King and is now working on a new project, The Edible Selby. “I have always been obsessed with food” he explains, when I ask him about this progression. “Whenever I travel my first thought is ; where am I going to eat, what should I try? Also I thought that the food world was filled with artistic and colourful characters that would work well for my own style of photoshoot.”
Having never visited New Zealand, Selby didn’t need to be asked twice when invited down by The Department Store in February of this year. The store hosted a one-night event where Selby shared stories and magic with a packed, enamoured crowd and signed copies of his book The Selby Is In Your Place. In the days following he toured the North Island, snapping the homes and workplaces of dozens of kiwi characters, and it seems that as a result, Todd Selby has fallen quite deeply in love with our land and, more importantly, its people.
“ In other places people just do their own thing” he says . “But kiwis, and your crew in particular, seem to help eachother out a lot, you’re a very entrepreneurial people. Where you are feels so positive.” Does he often feel such a connection with the places he visits? “ I’ve just been in Europe” he tells me, “ nine countries in two weeks... and quite often I just do my work and leave again. But I love New Zealand. I am planning to make a yearly visit part of my schedule from now on.”
He is proud of the work he did here and can’t wait till his next visit in February which he hopes will see him tour the South Island as well as visiting friends from last time around. He will look for the same things he always does – spots that feel right, people who interest him and “ places with a lot of love in them.” If he could write New Zealand a letter – to get us through till next time ?
Thank you for all your hospitality. I am really impressed with all the kiwis that I met, they have a lot of class and make things happen. Also you have great food and glow worms and black sand and lots of fun times. Thumbs up NZ.