Photographer Spotlight: Michael Craft

Michael Craft

New York City

When did you first pick up a camera and start taking photos that were beyond family or vacation photos?

Every so often when I was kid, I’d try out taking photos of a friend or anyone who was around with an instamatic camera my family had. I took a photography class [in college] to get some credits and fill up my schedule so that’s when it really began. Since I grew up loving classic Hollywood movies and looking at portraits, I knew I wanted to photograph people for my class. Some friends from college and my cousin became my models and I only shot in black and white, which I continued doing for quite a few years.

What is your favorite subject to shoot?

People! I love shooting with people and picking a theme. Very early on, I loved going through old family photos and was fascinated by the classic Hollywood glamour shots, especially those by George Hurrell. I also am inspired by the work of David LaChapelle and Justin Monroe. I think I love working with people because I like teamwork and a shoot is about teamwork. I like that I can give a model my ideas and they can give input and expand on that idea…sometimes making it even better.

Mike3Where do you get new shoot ideas?

I always like to give myself a theme to work on and those ideas usually come from movies and TV shows. Sometimes a title will just grab me and I’ll start a photo series based on it. Lately I’ve been doing photo series based on whatever theme American Horror Story is doing. I usually shoot it before the show airs so I think up my own ideas for the shoots. When they did Asylum, I did before and after photos. My original idea was to have people pose in a strait jacket and then I thought I’d also take a photo with the story of how they ended up in the strait jacket. In those stories I also incorporated some ideas from older horror films, Alfred Hitchcock and Joan Crawford in Strait Jacket. I’m always inspired by what’s going on around me whether it’s a movie or something in the news.

With all of the self-professed photographers with digital cameras, how do you continue to hone your skill and your eye to keep what you’re doing special and professional?

Well there’s definitely a lot of competition, and even though some people look down on some who’ve just picked up a camera and have no proper training, I’ve seen some really good work from people like that. Last year I bought a few online classes and found them very helpful. It’s always good to brush up on new techniques for everything from taking the photos to editing. Everything keeps changing with technology and there’s always something new out there. There’s so much to learn, but I knew it would be hard to find the time to actually take a class at a school, so brushing up on my techniques online works well for me. I also don’t like to limit myself to one style, I love doing everything from beauty to gore and a lot of times combining the two. I feel like some may not always get the combination, but I love the end results. I also love chatting with other photographers about techniques, etc. That isn’t always easy as most photographers are very private, but recently I’ve found a few photographers who have been very helpful. I think photographers make the mistake of thinking we can’t learn from one another.

How does social media, specifically Instagram, affect how you get your work to people? 

It helps a lot, it’s like having free advertising even though there’s a lot of competition and sometimes you feel like you’re a dime a dozen. At the end of the day, you really can’t complain about it since 15-20 years ago you didn’t have all these outlets. Though, at times, it’s overwhelming to keep up with it. At times I wish I could just not be bothered with it, but then you hear stories about some photographers getting jobs because someone saw their work on Instagram or Facebook. I remember someone telling me how working social media becomes a part time job and they were absolutely correct. The downfall is not getting caught up in the amount of followers or likes, because at the end of the day those aren’t what’re going to make you money.

Describe the style of your photography in five words. 

Fantasy. Fun. Sexy. Gory. Glamorous.

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Follow Michael on his Website, Facebook, and Instagram

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