David Shama (born February 3, 1977) is a Swiss photographer living in New York City. He is most known for his art and fashion work. David began taking photographs in 2005 and quickly gained recognition with his documentary style and narrative cinematic portraiture.
His father, a British stockbroker and his mother, an Italian photographer were both born in Alexandria, Egypt. They emigrated to Switzerland as children with their respective parents in 1956 when Gamal Abdel Nasser rose to power and decided to expel most foreign citizens from the country.
Shama spent his early years in Lausanne, Switzerland where he attended L'École Nouvelle, a local school. After that, he studied Sociology and Medicine at Lausanne University. His interest for art and in particular photography emerged early on. His mother has always been quite a shutterbug documenting his sisters and him. His father, despite working in finance, is a home movie pioneer, often filming the family with his Super8 camera.
In 2005 Shama moved to Argentina to film a documentary about a non-governmental organization for a friend but the project fell short. Nevertheless, he decided to stay in Buenos Aires and find a job while pursuing his dream of an artistic career.
He worked every job during the day and took photography classes at night until he got hired as a photography assistant by a famous local photographer called Urko Suaya.
In 2008 Shama moved to Paris where his career started as a fashion photographer. He worked for a few magazines and brands, until he showed his work in London where his style was immediately recognized. Magazines like Dazed, L'Officiel, Grazia and Tank took him on and brands like Nike, Ford and Universal Records commissioned work from him as his career progressed and became more international.
Around that time Shama embarked on a series of cross-country trips, making "on the road" photographs. The concept was simple, traveling for a week with a girl he had just met, and getting to know her while documenting the story.
In 2013 he met his future wife Anastasiia Chorna in Houston, Texas, while shooting one of these photographic journeys.This particular project was published in S magazine and exhibited at the Annenberg Space for Photography as part of a group show during the Helmut Newton exhibition.
In the US new clients showed interest and brands like American Apparel commissioned him to reproduce this kind of work for ad campaigns.
David Shama's work alternates between spontaneous snapshots and carefully planned situations that have nonetheless the appearance and freshness of a realistic situation. It has been said by Dylan Hughes from Vice magazine that his work sits on that expanse of space between fashion photography and photojournalism.
He is inspired by both photography and cinema.
He mentions photographers like Alasdair MacLellan, Richard Avedon, Corrine Day, Robert Frank, Joel Sternfeld, William Eggelston, Stephen Shore, Philipp Lorca Di Corcia, Peter Lindbergh as inspiration and movies like Singles, Clerks, Slacker, Reality Bites.
Choice of publications
- The Travel Almanac, Spring 2016, Alice Cohen and Hayden Dunham
- L'Officiel Suisse, Spring 2015, cover of the magazine and cover story for Piaget
- Glamour Germany, October 2015, "Le Geek c'est Chic"
- Creem Magazine, January 2015, "Caught in the act"
- S Magazine, Issue 15, Spring 2014, "Duo Ex Machina"
- The Wild, 2014 n˚11, Kenzo
- Photogenics Art Book, Vol 1, Winter 2013, "In the Wilderness We'll Run Wild"
- Flaunt, Fall 2013, "Milk Shake, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer"
- Wonderland, September 2012, "Bump the Night"
- Nylon Magazine, 2013–2016, multiple publications
Choice of commissioned work
- Automat, 2016, campaign for the launch of the new Automat Watch
- Atelier Bartavelle, 2014, campaign for the launch of the brand
- Nike, 2013, Kobe 9 Shoes, campaign with Kobe Bryant, commercial, pack shots
- American Apparel, 2013–2016, multiple campaigns on every support and billboards
- Faustine Paris, 2013, campaign for the handbag line of the brand
List of personal projects
- Anastasiia, 2014, cross country from California to New York
- Avery, 2013, Big Sur, published in Photogenics Art Book
- Anastasiia, 2013, from Texas to California, published in S Magazine
- Athena, 2013, "Swiss Alps", published in Hiking the Moon
- Mathilde, 2013, "Les Valseuses"
- Adeline, 2012, "Eyes of Star", published in Mirage Magazine
- Lola, 2011, road trip with Lola, shown at Fotofest, Paris
- "David Shama", Solo Show at 72and Sunny, Los Angeles, April 2017
- "Supernatural", Group Show at Con Artist, New York, January 2017
- "Kill or be killed", Group Show at Con Artist, New York, November 2016
- "Poesis", Exhibition collaboration with artist Anthony Bannwart, Club 44 in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, October - November 2016
- "Poesis", Exhibition collaboration with artist Anthony Bannwart, Galerie des Editions du Griffon in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, June 2016
- "Poesis", Exhibition collaboration with artist Anthony Bannwart, Laurent Marthaler Contemporary in Montreux, Switzerland, February 2016
- Helmut Newton, Group Show at Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, 2013