On a warm and humid late August afternoon in New York City, droplets of sweat dripped down my back as I waited outside at Two Hands, an Australian-inspired café in Manhattan's Nolita. Before I could pass out in the heat, a shiny black car stopped in the middle of the road. As the door opened, a blonde woman in a white lace crop top, red miniskirt, sneakers, backpack, braids and mascara-coated lashes emerged. She was no other than Charlotte Rutherford, the Internet's favorite photographer who was ready to turn the tide of the fashion and entertainment worlds.

Ebulliently bubbly, outgoing, laid-back, witty and charming - Rutherford, 24, was like a lightbulb ready to brighten up a dim room. It was her hyper-charged, yet easygoing energy that brought so many musicians (e.g. Charli XCX), pop culture fixtures (e.g. Paris Hilton), fashion designers (e.g. Sophia Webster), retailers (e.g. Adidas) and magazines (i.e. Galore) at her beck and call from London, New York and Los Angeles.


You are a self-taught photographer. What did you learn when you first started teaching yourself?

At first I was really into Photoshop and didn't really understand the importance of good lighting. And then the more I shot, the more I understand lighting!

Your main influences are widely acknowledged to be David LaChapelle (who is also one of my top favorites!) and Pierre et Gilles, who is known for doing superimposed portraits. How did you discover them and what aspects of their artistry have inspired you?

When I was about 17, I stayed in a hotel in Amsterdam and they had a really huge copy of LaChapelle's Heaven to Hell in the lobby and so, I spend hours looking through the images and it really blew my mind! Pierre et Gilles... I actually don't know that much about, but people always told me to look at their photos and so I did and was like, "hey, this is so cool and impressive!" - it looks so tasty and also I don't know how they create their final images, which really interests me.

As a photographer, you mainly focus in human portraiture. What made you choose that path?

Not sure, I don't really have an interest in something without people at this time. I guess the whole point of doing the picture for me is making people want to engage with whoever is the focus of the picture.

You've photographed celebrities from Paris Hilton, Tinashe, Kelly Rowland, Meghan Trainor, Charli XCX and Jason Derulo, along with model/Instagram sensation Charlie Barker and blogger/artist Bip Ling, whom you featured both on digital magazine OKgrl. I've noticed that each shoot has a different character or persona that complements the sitter's public image. Was it intentional that you and the celebrity to depict him/her as a character rather than themselves?

I just want to do people's pictures in a way that makes them a bit more cartoon[-ish] - that's why shooting with celebrities or people with followings is fun because there's already a preconception of who they are. So, it gives you a starting point on whether you want to exaggerate that or do something totally opposite! I'm looking forward to being trusted more by a client so that I can exaggerate ideas more!

Besides photography, I can sense that you are very into pop culture based on your Instagram posts of Michael Jackson, Pee Wee Herman, Britney Spears and Prince. When did you become interested in pop culture and how has it shaped you? Did you feel that pop culture directly influenced your style of photography?

Oh shit, all I think about all the time is, like, cartoons and pop stars! As a kid, I was extremely obsessive over famous people and wouldn't be able to function properly sometimes because I was so love-sick/gutted that cartoons and popstars weren't my actual friends. I think it's for sure shaped my work and I love the way that pop culture can make something unimportant seem super important for a just a minute.

Now that art is becoming accessible via the Internet and Instagram, it's becoming an alternate gallery/portfolio for photographers like yourself. But at the same time, it's still necessary for artists to release a book that explains their work and show photos that fans can't see on the Internet. Do you have any plans to release a book?

I don't think you have to release a book to prove anything, but I do think it's super nice to have projects which can be viewed in different ways! I've just started working on a project which I guess will eventually come in book form! I also recently worked on a photobook for a HK artist called GEM. It's the first time I've seen my stuff in a book/exhibit and it was so cool to see! I think you look at images differently on different platforms.