New York based fashion photographer Micahel Creagh got caught up in Hurricane Sandy while shooting this editorial but tells us here why creativity has to come first.
TELL US HOW YOU FIRST FELL IN LOVE WITH PHOTOGRAPHY.
When it comes to love, you just know. There was no grand plan. I just rejected a normal 9-5 job and moved to the South of France. Everyday, I took pictures. It was so exciting. Before my first portrait sessions I would write a page of notes of things to try and angles that might work for the person.
YOU SEEM TO FOCUS ON FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY, WHAT DREW YOU TO THAT?
Each person has an inner disposition of what they like. I am not sure why I am drawn to fashion, and I have thought about this a lot. I was not a fashionable kid, though my first influences in photography, years later, were French and Italian Vogue. I like beautiful things and I like surprises when they don’t happen to me! Fashion is filled with a lot of quirky beauty.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD PICTURE?
Photos are a culmination of several human traits; an interest in our lives as a whole, the need to leave a mark, the hope we will be remembered. It comes from the same impulse to write down history. Art has existed as long as humans have. Commercial interests and power have always looked to harness art, from early jewellery, to the gold standard, to cathedrals. Today, a photo’s worth is tied to its connectivity to this tradition. Art is built into fashion and the modern fashion economy. A good photo is contextual and makes sense within a certain group; fashion, family or friends. I know it would be easier just to say it needs to “move” people, but there are reasons why it does.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A MODEL WHEN YOU SHOOT?
Models never get enough credit for their creativity. They have these beautiful lines they can make with their bodies and with the flip of a switch, their eyes make you believe things. It is an amazing artistic tool. Here, Karolina was just as excited to create as I was or Lisa (stylist), Yuko (makeup) or Dennis (hair).
TELL US ABOUT THE SHOOT FOR HUNGER TV?
We were safe and shot the day before Hurricane Sandy hit New York. But as it grew later in the night, in the heart of the city, we all knew it was coming. All week, the news was on the impending storm and there were so many preparations we each hadn’t done yet. You sort of get caught up in the creative moment, and then when it is over, you think that you have to get moving!
YOU’RE BASED IN NEW YORK – HOW DO YOU SEE THE PHOTOGRAPHY SCENE THERE COMPARED TO OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD?
I am trapped in a bubble. There are literally tens of thousands of creative people doing amazing things and yet I see the same influences over and over. We have become so good at recognising and categorising the more basic things in fashion: like what a model should look like or who should be in which magazine. It causes us to ignore fascinating things that do not fit this paradigm. I am not sure if it is worse here in New York. It feels that way to me because I am here. Sometimes I am sitting with a designer brainstorming ideas, and I say come when we can do anything we want in the whole world, and we end up doing what we did last time.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE CHANGE?
I’d like to get out of the bubble. It is very hard to step outside your everyday and just do something different that is still relevant. I wonder what fashion photography would be like if people didn’t have to sell the clothes, or if people just wore more fun outfits and heaven forbid were more open-minded.
EVERYONE THINK THEY ARE A PHOTOGRAPHER WHAT WITH IPHONES AND INSTAGRAM, IS THIS GOOD OR BAD FOR THE ART FORM?
Right now is a golden age. More photos will be taken in the next 2 minutes than in the first 75 years of photography. This intimidates some photographers, and I have heard a story or two of a lost job from some company trolling Flickr. But there is also a record level of interest in visual medias. If everyone is a photographer, then everyone loves photos. The fashion industry will adapt; has adapted. Yes, many traditional business and practices will go away. Technology has always done this. But unless the science fiction movies really do have it right where we all wear the same cut of jumpsuits, the fashion industry will be just fine.
The greater question is will photography survive. It doesn’t scare me that Instagram lets everyone cross balance their photos. But what will Instagram 2.0 be like, or more importantly 10.0? Will the fifth generation of Google Glass be the breaking point where photography is irrelevant in image creation? Will it all be some new CGI that hooks up to your mind with an implant in your eye? I don’t think that is far fetched, and I wonder if I will be retired by then…or on the forefront of that technology.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR WORK PROGRESSING?
At heart I am simple and progress is a funny word. Ever so often, I collect another shoot that I am really proud of. I am constantly looking for projects that will be a cool experience, build me, and my character. Like all people, I would like to leave something of substance behind. To do that, my ambitions still want me to grow.