Cole Sprouse on Finding Inspiration in Abandoned Landscapes

Behind the Image is an ongoing series taking a more personal look at both established and emerging creative talent.

Cole Sprouse | Courtesy of LGA Management 

Cole Sprouse, photographer

Hometown: Arezzo, Italy
Based: Los Angeles & New York
Representation: LGA Management 

How would you describe your work? What’s your trademark?
I ran away from people and the public eye for a long time, I still do. I want my work to carry that escapism. I prefer remote landscapes and dreamlike natural environments.

How did you get into your chosen career?
I fell into it. I picked up a camera back when I was an archaeology major. I fell in love with photographing ruins and abandoned landscapes. I studied in New York, and all of my photo buddies were shooting fashion. I would pal around with them in hopes of learning something. I shot some of the people we ran around with and built a bit of a fashion portfolio. At the time, it seemed like everyone was too excited to leave the studio, and I knew where to drag them.

What other jobs have you had?
I’ve been acting since I was a baby. Other than that, I worked as an archaeologist for around five years. Was in and out of various research labs.

What have you watched/heard/read lately that has inspired you?
I just learned about “lantern consciousness,” which I think does a great job explaining how we perceive life when we’re kids. Also watched The Zone Of Interest by Jonathan Glazer. Some of that movie’s filming/audio design piqued my interest technically.

What do you love about what you do?
I get to meet and drag a lot of people into challenging locations. Even if it’s pouring rain or we have to climb through some briars, we always come away with some fun stories.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced professionally?
I’m very hard on myself and my work. I find it much easier to digest non-constructive criticism than support.

What’s one thing outside of your work that you would like people to know about you?
I love to pickle things. This is what happens in your 30s.

Who do you think is one to watch?
Julian Master, he’s a street photographer out of NYC. His photos have a kind of humor that pokes fun at life in the city without coming off as condescending. His work levels the playing field a bit. I really enjoy it.

Selected Work

Image courtesy of LGA Management 

Cherokee Jack for Document Journal
Mono Lake was a spot very dear to me in childhood. I was privileged enough to take a team out there for Document Journal. My dad came with me, and we camped along the way.

Image courtesy of LGA Management

Hope and Grace Fly for Elle
I really wanted to work with twins. We all had a beautiful day in the desert, and I have fond memories of that entire shoot.

Image courtesy of LGA Management

Maggie Maurer for Vogue Portugal
I’m a big fan of Nils Udo. We found a spot in Sintra, Portugal that he had worked on. Maggie Maurer was someone I wanted to shoot for a long time. This shoot was a big milestone for me.

Image courtesy of LGA Management

We woke up at the crack of dawn to shoot. To this day, it’s the first photo I think of when someone asks me about my favorite shoot. It seemed so simple at the time. I had no idea I would think about it for so many years after. I guess it’s just special to me.

Image courtesy of LGA Management

10 Magazine
This image just felt dreamy to me at the time. It still does, I guess. Jawny, on the right, passed away shortly after our shoot. This image has an even greater significance to me now and has become a feeling I try to recreate when possible.