Spotlight on Photographer Eric Morales
This week is all about Eric Morales – know him? He should be on all your radars. He’s an uber talented photographer that I have the pleasure of working with on two photo shoots this week. I am so impressed with his work that I wanted to find out more about him and share this Q&A with you. You can check out more of his photography here. Enjoy and stay tuned more of his work soon! x Nina
Q: How did you get into photography?
A: Well, I think that during this day and age, it’s difficult to not get the photography bug. Most people are carrying around a really great camera in their pocket. You can now shoot and edit HD video on an iPhone. Access to photography isn’t a problem these days.
I purchased a Nikon D200 in May of 2007 at the end of my undergraduate studies in literature. I was going to England as part of a capstone course and because I had traveled before with a compact camera I knew I wanted more control of picture taking. When I got back, instead of shelving my DSLR until the next vacation time or some kind of event, I started carrying it everywhere.
Q: Who are the photographers, past or present, who inspire you most?
A: Where to start? To name a few modern photographers: Peter Yang, Jake Chessum, Stefan Ruiz, Jonathan Leder, Mike Piscatelli, Ed Templeton, Richard Kern, Danny Clinch, & Erwin Olaf all have different styles and a different approach to portrait photography. Their portraits are raw and honest and, for the most part, don’t try to fulfill any certain ideal, specifically Hollywood’s. Annie Leibowitz has Hollywood covered. Her photographs are nothing short of amazing, but they can have a feeling of over-production, grandeur and fantasy. That is their purpose. Then there is the obvious list of master photographers of street, portrait and fashion such as Cartier-Bresson, Elliot Erwitt, Brassai, Avedon, Newton, William Claxton, etc.
But, if I had to choose one person who has inspired me in photography the most, I would have to say it is George Krause. This guy is a real photographer. I became really serious about learning to work with film after meeting him. I taught myself how to shoot and develop black & white and color film. I dabbled in print enlargements, too.
And, since I don’t have an art school background, he pushes me the way I imagine an art teacher would. He is always telling me about which photographers and painters I should be looking at as it relates to my work. He’s really funny, too, because it kills him that I don’t know more than half of the people he’s talking about. “It’s your responsibility to know the history of photography and about these people,” he once said to me. He’s 74 years old. I showed him Deformer by Ed Templeton, he said, “Do you know the work of Nan Goldin?” I’m learning.
Q: Tell us a little about your work and what inspires it…
A: I wish I had something original to say, but I’m just going to steal from Cartier-Bresson: “Photography is nothing. It is life that interests me.” I have always possessed a natural curiosity for people. Photography just seems to be a way for me to experience the world. I know there are some photographers who have these visions in their mind and will work really hard to make everything in an image just like they want it. But, I just like to go with the flow. I’m more of an explorer in that sense.
Q: What are the tools you use and describe your work process?
A: I equally enjoy using studio strobes or ambient light, or a mixture of both. I try to keep it simple. No lights, one light, maybe two or three at most if you count the sun. It just depends on the situation.
As far as concepts or planning, I try to keep plans loose and flexible. I am a firm believer in the idea that too much thinking on the job can get in the way. Sometimes it’s good to just let go and allow the process happen. This is what I mean by “discovering” a photograph instead of “making” a photograph. I’m not trying to be mystical, but if we really trust in ourselves, we will surprise ourselves. I’m constantly thinking about photography and practice daily by doing. I still carry a camera with me everywhere. My Leica M6 feels like a part of me. I’m never not a photographer.
Q: You work with both digital and film – which do you prefer and how do you decide which is appropriate for each shoot?
A: I prefer film. No question. But, I combine the mediums. I shoot film and I scan it so I can work with it digitally. It’s safer. No chemicals.
I shoot digital when results are time sensitive, or fine detail and ultra high resolution are important. But, overall I prefer to look at photographs as a little more holistic. Sharpness and resolution aren’t always as important to me as the total feel of an image. And digital can’t always capture the feel I’m looking for. I know there is software that makes digital images look like they were shot on film… But, I just shoot film. Also, I just have a romantic notion toward traditional photography. There’s something Zen about the process of shooting film. You get lost in process and get to live in the moment.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your plans for the future, what’s next?
A: Currently, I’m working on a project that explores the nude in American society and culture. I’ve only recently started and have already found myself pushing the boundaries of my own comfort levels
I’m trying to question, if not understand, what nudity is in relation to commerce and fashion, art, religion, life, death, identity, innocence, sex, objectification, humor, irony, the mundane, etc. What is nudity at its most beautiful and grotesque? Some of these images can be currently seen on my website.
Aside from that project, I will continue toward my goal of putting myself in a position that allows me to photograph more amazing people and places more often. There’s so much ahead of me and I look forward to every single moment, whatever the future brings. I’m not in a hurry. Things have a natural way of unfolding and if I stay focused and aware, then the right opportunities will be revealed. I’ll just continue to do what I do in the meantime.