For Todd Selby, what started out as a small side project has, in two short years, taken him from casual blogger to last month being crowned one of the nine most influential style bloggers by
Vogue magazine (March 2010 “Power” issue). In 2008, the New York-based photographer began shooting his friend and friends of friends in their spaces for his blog (
theselby.com). “It started out with an interest in portraiture and people,” he says. “I liked the idea of telling a story about someone through the things in their space.” Before he knew it, his little project had taken off and he began getting attention from all the right people. “I did a show at Collette in Paris that same year and from that was able to gain access to a lot of high profile people in France. It just snowballed from there.” Notable fashion folk who have since opened their doors to Todd include Alexander Wang, Erin Wasson and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld.
This month, Todd’s first book
The Selby is in Your Place ($45.50, Abrams Books) launches in bookstores everywhere but if you’re expecting the usual ink and paper version of the same old online content, prepare to be surprised and inspired. “I wanted to make sure the book had mostly exclusive material that people hadn’t seen anywhere before,” says Todd. For a year and half, he did double duty, shooting places for his website, and at the same time secretly shooting for his book. “I’d say 60 per cent of the work has never been seen before and the rest are my absolute favourites from the website.” Some of his new subjects include Olivier Zahm, Christian Louboutin and Karl Lagerfeld…to name a few. “With the website, I don’t have the luxury of working on it for a year like with the book so I was able to really get into it,“ he says. “I think you get a different understanding of people through the book than just through the photos on the website.”
Todd may be accustomed to being behind the scenes, but this month we’ve got him in the hot seat as he tackles our infamous
DNA questionnaire—find out who’s home he’s dying to shoot and why he thinks his own is, well, “a little problematic.”
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
That’s a hard question! I’m not a philosopher I’m just a photographer. No one knows the answer to that. That’s a trick question!
What do you consider your worst trait?
Messiness. But I like messy spaces. I’m a maximalist so more is more.
If you could choose an occupation other than your own what would it be?
An architect. I love spaces and people and buildings so it’s kind of a naturally related thing. I think I would enjoy it.
Whose home were you most inspired by?
Retts Wood. She’s a photographer and she has an amazing house boat in London. She just went and bought one somewhere in England and sailed it—I don’t know if that’s the right word…boated it? Anyway, she got it to London down the canals by herself and it’s just a really amazing community of people who have these house boats in central London. She’s in the book.
Whose home were you most surprised by?
Nakao. She’s a very well known night-life personality in Japan and she’s been known to show up, like covered in fake blood or totally naked except for a pair of pasties, and that would be her outfit, you know? But you go to her house and its like a total 70s hippie den with her Yoko Ono CDs and her acoustic guitar—I was shocked. She’s in the book too.
Who’s next on your list of dream homes to shoot?
I really would like to shoot the first family—the Obama family, and I’m working on it so I’ll get there!
Find out what makes supermodel Coco Rocha tick here
Of all the places you’ve traveled, what city has the most style?
New York City of course! That’s why I live here.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Amazing” is definitely my most over-used word.
What is your most treasured possession?
A coin that my grandfather gave me.
What’s your usual?
I’m not much of a drinker to be honest, so I guess green tea.
What is your greatest extravagance?
How would you describe your home?
I would describe it as a compromise. I live with my girlfriend and she’s a minimalist and I’m a maximalist so you can imagine…it’s a little problematic.
Have you ever gone to shoot a place and it’s a total bomb?
I’m really careful to not put myself in any kind of strange position. I do a lot of research and make sure they’re the right fit for what I’m doing. My project is different from a lot of other interior type things because its not just about the space or the architecture—it’s about the people and their place and the relationship between the two, so it takes a lot of work to find those great combinations.
What are your favourite blogs?
The Cobra Snake,
Jak & Jil,
Luminous Landscape, which is a photo nerd website, and
Backyard Bill, which is a really cool new concept. I also look at
Apartment Therapy and
Design*Sponge. And I like
Fanny B, she’s a really cool illustrator in New York—she’s also in my book.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned this past year?
Ruben Toledo gave me some advice recently. He said—and I’m probably mangling exactly what he said—but he said something like “never do anything that you’re not willing to do again.” If you do something once you usually end up doing it again and again so be careful.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My book! I’ve always wanted to have a book and I’m pretty excited about it. If enough people buy it in Canada, maybe I’ll even come to Canada and shoot some houses. But they gotta buy some books first.
Describe your perfect Sunday?
Walking around Greenwich Village, eating cheese from Murrays’, having appetizers from Russ & Daughters, and dinner at The Smile.
What do you most value in your friends?
What is your Twitter policy?
What will you do when you retire?
Sneak around people’s houses.
Finish this sentence:
“People think I’m
global but I’m really
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