Saturday, 23 May 2015

Paul McLaren

New York City

When did you start getting engaged in photography? Did you start working intuitively or did you visit photography classes?

I started to get into photography when I was around 12. My first camera was a Canon Rebel so I shot a lot of imitation work, trying to find my niche. It wasn’t until much later that I took my first digital photography class at the Parsons Academy of Design. But, for the most part, I started working intuitively and I then started to develop my own original work.

To you, what’s the most fun thing about photography? On the other side, are there things you struggle with?

I really enjoy photographing people on the street, so I love the interactive aspect of photography because I often approach strangers and get to meet new people. That being said, I also value concept in my work so I always try and create something with a significant meaning. Developing work that can really invoke change in the way people view the world is probably the most important principle that I value. However, I often struggle with the question of what it means to be a photographer in a day and age where trillions of photos are being uploaded every day. In other words, how do you make a photograph that is 'art'?

Your latest series consists of portraits in black and white as recreations of Richard Avedon’s photograph of a Blackjack dealer. What inspired you about Avedon’s work?

When I made this series, I was really interested in individuality and identity. Aesthetically, Avedon’s work was very attractive to me. The rich grey tones that he was able to produce using a large format camera, and the clean white backdrop that he employed worked harmoniously to create a beautiful image. However, conceptually I interpreted his work as being largely about identity and individuals. How the stark physical differences between the people of the American West represented the emotional realities between each subject. That’s what really stuck out to me and I sought to recreate that feeling and to cultivate a culture of difference through my work.

For you, is the learning process in photography a steady one? 

I think the fact that I love it so much makes exploring photography as an artistic medium easy for me. However, learning about art as a whole is difficult for me - as I think it is for any contemporary artist. Sometimes I struggle with creating concepts but usually when I have a stroke of creative genius, it comes naturally and is not forced.

Do you ever find it difficult to describe your thoughts behind images you took?

Not at all, because for me, it tends to be the reverse. I portray my thoughts through my images by first developing a concept, and then translating that into an aesthetic creation. However, sometimes, I will be working on a project that doesn’t really come from any particular concept and it turns out to be very interesting when I see the connections that form between various pieces as I progress.

Which techniques interest you currently?

I love working with VHS cameras for cinema and for different digital glitch effects. This summer I will be exploring experimental film at the San Francisco Art Institute so I am really looking forward to that. I also am currently exploring a lot of different analogue techniques and am starting to work with different film formats like 4x5 and large format cameras. I find that nowadays, conceptual art is the most effective and most original medium to work with because it is often a very unique lens into society. One of my favourite artists is Hank Willis Thomas who illustrates contemporary issues in American race-relations and gender roles in our society through his work.

What’s it like to live in New York City, especially from the perspective of a young aspiring photographer?

I honestly couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. New York City is also such central place in terms of the current young creative movement. I take advantage of the wonderful art schools including Parsons and ICP. Street photography became one of my main interests largely because of living in NYC and my fascination with strangers and other people.

What are your plans for Summer 2015?

This summer I am going to the San Francisco Art Institute pre college program and I will be studying Black and White Photography and Experimental film.  I will then be working in NYC as a photo editor for Musée Magazine and I will also be interning at a wonderful studio space in Brooklyn, Holyrad Studio.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

Creative director for a political campaign. Art director for The Fader Magazine. Or Photo Editor for Vice Magazine. I really want to continue to work in photography but I want to explore where creativity is applied in various industries including politics, advertising, and publishing media.

No comments: