You shoot like anything. Fashion, portraits, documentary. What is closest to your heart and vision?
True. I do try to shoot everything, and it’s all dear to my heart! I never feel like photography is a pain or considered “work.” I’m pretty passionate about Documentary photography. I like to capture authentic personalities or moments that truly exist. However, to mix documentary & fashion is a whole other level because it’s the wonderful contrast of the seemingly fake fashion industry and real life. At times, I can relate to the flamboyant, glamorous culture of the fashion world, but who are the people underneath the materials and snobbery? I tried to accomplish this in my Garbage Girls series- in which I photographed confident, beautiful ladies (wearing stylish clothes like Marc Jacobs) and shot them in their sickly habitats. (http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/garbage-girls) Quite the contrast! Another example of how my eye works is just the other day I was on the beach, and I saw this quite overweight woman with a leathery tan and purple eye shadow. While she was sitting worshipping the sun, I imagined how beautiful a photo would be if she just happened to be holding some chic purse or pair of Chanel shoes. I’d rather see that campaign than a typical advertisement with a boney model.
Is there any subject that is taboo to you, photographically speaking? And what about art and fashion and magazines? Do taboos still exist?
I have nothing against commercial photography because it takes skill and helps artists make a living. But I find that it’s a taboo to shoot editorials in a studio. I find there are so many more inspiring locations than just white walls. I like my locations to set a mood and tell a story. I find that simply photographing a model posing is unappealing to me. If it’s a fashion shoot, I’d rather the clothing be showcased with context. Aren’t we over models jumping? I am. Fashion magazines were so much cooler in the sixties when someone like Diane Vreeland was the boss. I like magazines that come up with original, unconventional fashion stories. Bad Day Magazine or Dazed & Confused has that going on.
I have also been on shoots where the photographer is trying to re-create a photo that has already been done (shown on the location laptop or mood board). I don’t quite understand why people want to recreate art that already exists.
Is this photographing career something you have been dreaming of as a kid? When did you know you wanna “shoot”?
Every childhood memory I have exists merely because there is a photo associated with that memory or time. I’m a very visual person (obviously), so before I had a camera I would get really stressed out that moments were being lost forever. I’d be afraid that beauty would be forgotten without documentation, so I’d write a lot. It sounds cheesy but it’s true! This problem was finally solved when I got my first camera. I didn’t think of photography as a career choice but I taught myself the technicals and started to take hundreds of photos. Suddenly every purse I bought had the rule “if my camera fits inside”, and my camera took place of my sweet little journal. I have chilled out a lot since those teenage years, but my camera is still an essential part of my life. The fact that I can visualize a photo series or fashion shoot and rest on the idea, is a drastic improvement from my old “beauty being lost” mentality. I’ve learnt to channel all my silly photographic urges and my aesthetic perfectionism by actually recreating a photo from my mind. When I studied cinema I seemed to just make short films that were basically composed film stills, so I gave up on that and realized that I needed to be a photographer.
What is your working process like? First an idea and then you develop? Or spontaneously or are you a super planner?
I either spot an interesting location and then find an enlightening subject or vice versa. They go hand and hand! The model has to really own their surroundings so that the photo tells its own story. You’ll see in most of my photos that the subject has a sense of ease. Unless it’s my portraiture or documentary photographs, I’d consider some of my work to be neo-realism. I modify reality so that the viewer can assume what is taking place. The fact that I can create perfection in the vicinity of the camera lens I’m looking through is very satisfying. All in all, my photographs definitely embody a mix of soul & surrounding!
Where do you get inspired from? Is it other artists? Music? What does it for you?
Certain colours and textures inspire me. Someone who stands out in a crowd (like drag queens) really do it for me! Different decades like the 50s and 60s and even music from the 90s. I’m all about atmosphere, so if I just happen to walk into a nostalgic place- I envision who could pose there and what they’d be wearing- like a crazy film scene. I’m an actor so it’s easy to be inspired by false circumstances. When I’m lucky enough to see something like a desolate restaurant or bar, I envision all the stories that could take place there. The options are endless! I like to treat my photo shoots like I am casting a character for a film. I also love photographing actors, they demonstrate moving facial expressions and exist as if no one is watching. It’s like they are totally lost in the moment. Specific poses or too much direction usually takes away from that, so whoever I’m photographing is usually just “being.”
What are you working on at the moment? Or what do you wanna work on next?
At this exact moment I am on the highway on my way to Montreal to shoot a modern dancer performing at La Monument Nationalle. Also, I’m planning on making a photography book designed by my friend Camille Brunet as well as collaborating with a local designer to shoot their polaroid lookbook sometime in the near future. Shooting band Prince Innocence! A group exhibition on “levels of status” is in the works for July. I’ll also dabble with self portraiture. Ok, that’s a lot, but anyways, you’ll see!
Interview by Amanda M. Jansson
Black and white portrait of Maya Fuhr by Luis Mora