I dig how you push the limits in your work, do what you want and don’t give a fuck what people think. Has staying true to your vision been a challenge?
When people ask me what the hardest part of doing this is I tell them it’s not making the work, that’s easy and a lot of fun. The tricky part that I have seen break people is the ability to stay true to what you want to do and not let critics, press or even people break you. And I’ve seen that happen to friends especially now with social media and Instagram. People are changing the work they make for “likes” and that’s a dangerous game to play as an artist. I have just always been the way I am. I think when I started people called me stubborn but I never wanted to compromise and I think it’s a great question and it’s important for people to hear the marathon is much more rewarding than the sprint. People made it very tough for me and it was no easy task but I never questioned it. I suppose I just didn’t know any other way to do it.
Your work is smoking haute and stirs up a lot of controversy. What has been your edgiest shoot to date?
Oh man, that’s a tough question because that really comes down to the viewer. Some people would say the lynching photo and other people would say the gator Birkin but I can’t call it because you never know what will be seen as controversial. I don’t like to tell people what to think about something. I like to make it and let them make up their own mind. That’s part of the fun, my opinion doesn’t matter because I made it.
Your creativity knows no bounds. Can you tell me a little about your creative process? What inspires you and do you have any muses?
There’s a few people I work with a lot with like Ana Mulvoy-Ten, Page Ruth, Emma Roberts, Logan Huffman, and Holland Roden. They have all been in my last few series. The ideas just come and the challenge is settling on an idea and learning how to master it but that’s also part of the fun as you get to learn so much. The amount of research I did for Historical Fiction was insane but that’s part of the fun because you get to play in different worlds and create them. Had I not done the Historical Fiction series I would have never done the Decadence series and one thing leads to the next but you experiment and you grow and you just keep learning. That’s one of the things that I try to get all my friends to do is try new cameras and experiment with new techniques.
It seems your subjects will do just about anything for you in a shot from axing down pay phones to eating glitter. What is the craziest idea you have imagined and has anyone really ever said no to you.
People trust me and part of that is because they see the results. I have had a few times where the person I was shooting had no idea what they were doing and how it would look but that’s part of the fun. You have to let go of reality and you have to let go of trying to figure out how my mind works and just trust me. People do that so I have been very fortunate to have some amazing people around me and in my work over the years.
Your book THE DIRTY SIDE OF GLAMOUR is mind-blowing. It’s different than any other photography out there. What was your inspiration behind your book? Do you have a favorite photo from the book?
A favorite? I don’t know it’s hard to pick favorites as they’re like children to me. The “Champagne Kiss” has taken on a life of its own. It’s funny because it started out as a series then turned into a whole book and it took about 5 years to complete. What’s really fascinating to me about it is that people seem to like it even more now than when it came out which is interesting because Emma told me that would happen when we were putting it together.
Seeing work like yours is inspiring, it makes people want to get out there and start creating. Do you have any words of wisdom for photographers who are just starting their creative journey?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Make what you want to make and don’t make it for “likes” or for what you think someone else might like because if you do that one day you will wake up and hate it all.