New York based photographer, Manolo Campion has lensed editorials for Flair, Italian Elle, S magazine, Nylon, Surface, Oyster and Intersection. I love how his work provokes, sometimes pushing boundaries but is never crude. There is still this accessibility and realness in the most glammed up shot. We caught up with Campion where he swoons about his wife, son and photography.
How Did you Get Started?
Manolo Campion : I went to art school in L.A. and then moved to London after graduating. I thought I’'d spend a lot of time assisting but I was pretty crap at it, so I concentrated on shooting and got my first few editorials. I always new I'’d end up in New York, it was just a matter of time. After I moved back to the U.S. I won a contest that Surface Magazine was having and was flown back to London to shoot for Vidal Sassoon. That’s was the first time I really felt appreciated as a photographer.... later down the line, that Surface shoot along with some other shoots I had done for Nylon and Oyster helped me get an editorial for Italian Elle.
What Inspires/ Motivates / Influences You?
Manolo Campion : Passionate people inspire me, my son Bo inspires me. I Love walking or biking into new neighborhoods and seeing all the new terrain, it always seems to stir up new ideas. Music motivates me…. I suppose everything influences me, I don’t know if its even possible to have an experience that doesn't influence...
Describe Your Artistic Process?
Manolo Campion : When I want to do a location project I usually scout around until I find a place that gets me really excited and itching to shoot…. then I spend time there trying to visualize what kind of girl and clothing would work for me in that particular place…. I’ll talk to a stylist about it and come up with a concrete idea to push off of.When putting my crew together I keep an open mind to the suggestions everyone might have. Many times a stylist or makeup artist will suggest an idea that’s much stronger than what I originally wanted to do. Casting is always very important – its key in seeing if the girl can move and/or give me what I’m looking for.
Manolo Campion : For the past few years my work has been very location based… however I feel a change brewing… I’ve been on location a lot and the simplicity of the studio is a new challenge for me…. its like working out a new muscle in the gym. I don’t like the idea of doing just location or just studio – I’m curious about experiencing different kinds of shooting, for me that’s what being a photographer is all about.
Is there an image from your early days (your own or someone you admire) that still makes you go wow?
Manolo Campion : There was a shoot Mario Sorrenti did for W of a girl in a white dress hanging out in a field… it was so simple and beautiful. That story definitely had an impact on how I thought about location work – in fact, while I was in school I was inspired by almost everything Mario did. I love uncomplicated images, simple concepts with a little twist that keep you hooked.
What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction to your photographs?
Manolo Campion : I was definitely surprised when the New Zealand government contacted me after seeing one of my shoots in Oyster magazine. Apparently they wanted to determine whether I was shooting child pornography?? Later I found out that around the same time my soon to be wife had had a meeting at her magazine about inappropriate imagery in fashion and had submitted that same Oyster story as an example of what was wrong with fashion at that time… ouch.
I live for my wife and son -
What's Next? Film?
Manolo Campion : When I was in art school I thought I’d eventually make the transition to film… film is actually where I started before realizing I didn’t like the life. I’m still open to the idea but the more I shoot stills the more I see how far I have to go, which is what drives me. I’d like to feel like I’m creating images that really satisfy me before tackling something as big as film. Having said that, a friend just asked me to shoot his short film.... and said sure! Ha!
What advice would you give to someone looking at a career in photography?
Manolo Campion : I would say if you want to do photography try assisting a photographer that has the career you think you want…. being around their shoots and watching them will let you know if you’re making the right choice. Also, be aware of weather the images you’re making satisfy you… that’s really your only compass. Develop a tough skin and try not to compare yourself too much to others. Shoot as much as you can afford!! If you have money in your account then you’re not shooting enough!
On the Web manolocampion.com