This month I interviewed aarontyree23 ! Aaron is an artist in the United States and has been on DeviantArt for 5 years now. His insightful words in this interview gave me a greater appreciation for his work and his views as an artist, and I hope you enjoy reading his answers as much as I did!
What made you decide to photograph people? And was fashion the type of photography you first started out creating?
I think it was an instinctive thing. When I was given a camera, the first thing I did was start photographic people. There was not a conscious decision until much later when I realized the camera gave me an acceptable reason to relate to people in much the same way that I already did; looking for who they are.
Please, briefly describe your fashion photography style.
The first word that comes to mind is honest. At least that is what I'm looking for. But style is a tricky thing. If its driven from the outside in, its not much more than copying. If it comes from the inside, from being honest with yourself about who you are, what you love, and what moves you, then a personal style will flow naturally out of that.
Are you self-taught or formally educated in photography? And if you're self-taught, what resources have you found to be the most helpful on your journey?
I have no formal education in photography. But when I started, I watched untold hours of Creative Live classes. For the first 3 months after deciding to pursue photography more seriously, every day I would watch whatever photography class was streaming at the time. I think because Creative Live was new then, the photographers that were teaching those classes were the best in the world at whatever they were doing, and they would go into great detail about their approach, and what they had learned over the years. I believe the education I received from that was honestly better than anything I could have found at any traditional institution.
Do you think in this age of technology that photography is "easier" or more "accessible?" And does this matter for the industry?
I think it is easier to start. It is definitely easier and cheaper to learn by trial and error now. The real-time feedback of a digital sensor and a screen can't be beat for learning. As for how it affects the industry… I think the increasing accessibility of technology reveals personal vision much more quickly. When everyone has access to decent technology, people can no longer build a career by hiding behind thousands of dollars in equipment. I mean when most imagery is seen on screens, and the iPhone XI will shoot images than are almost indistinguishable from a $3500 Canon, the only thing that will stand out in the continual stream of images will be honesty and developed vision.
What do you find most inspirational for your creativity?
People and Love. I mean I know how it sounds, but I mean it. The love of God has been transformative in my life. Understanding how deeply I am loved with all my flaws, changes the way I see others. And when you operate from a place of feeling accepted, you start to look for reasons to love and accept other people. Then the whole world takes on a beautiful light. But that sounds too large. So perhaps to describe it differently… when I look for what is beautiful in people and in situations, I seem to find it. And the better I get at that, the better photographs I seem to take.
Do you plan out your photoshoots extensively beforehand? Or are you a bit more spontaneous when creating a fashion series?
I do plan. But I plan with the goal of having all details handled before a shoot so the shoot itself can be almost entirely spontaneous. When I shoot, my entire focus is the moment, and being connected to the person I am shooting, so I try to take care of details in advance so I can forget about them while shooting. If additional attention to detail is required during a shoot, I will work with people who have a passion for those details.
What has been the most important piece of advice you've been given on photography? And what advice would you give to a fashion photographer trying to start out?
You know to be perfectly honest, I didn’t receive a lot of good advice from people. No one told me that the most important part of being an artist is actually being connected to your own heart. The technical stuff can be learned fairly quickly, and there is an abundance of information for that. But the more important stuff… the internal stuff… its harder to find good advice. If I were to condense what I've learned so far into a piece of advice, it would be this: Understand your own heart, and why you want to create art. Once you understand that, do that, and stay true to it. Then, if you find yourself looking at other people's art, and feeling like you need to look like them to be accepted, stop, take a breath, go back to the beginning, and start over. If you don’t develop your own voice, you will never be heard.
What is your favorite and/or most successful photo-shoot you've created?
The most successful… well if you mean the most recognized, is definitely the images I shot of Devon Jade in 2012 (pictured above).
The most successful meaning I achieved what I hoped to? The last two shoots I did made me very happy. They were all film, I developed and scanned everything myself, and everything turned out better than I'd hoped. To me that is success.
My favorite shoot… the next one.
Putting together teams for photoshoots can be difficult, and many new photographers don't know where to start. How do you find people to work with? What kinds of qualities do you look for in a creative team?
I honestly don’t recommend a new photographer start by working with a team. Unless you have a group of passionate creative friends that want to experiment right at the beginning, then go for it. But I feel it is important for a new photographer to understand what moves them. To practice shooting people one on one, until they find it easy to connect with different people, and can use the camera like an extension of themselves. Then spend some time learning at least the basics of how light works. Once there is some confidence with that, and you have an idea of what you want to do, it really isn’t that difficult to find people who will want to work with you. I will say this… you will often find creative, passionate people in an art school. And in many cases, their passion is larger than their ego. When a person's desire to create is larger than their desire to be recognized, they are much more likely to get both. And I personally think someone who is excited to risk and try is of infinite value.
How do you connect with your models when they're in front of the camera? Do you do lots of model directing on photoshoots?
I try to develop at least a basic friendship in advance. I try to have coffee with someone before we shoot, and learn about them. Laugh about things. Find out who they are, what they hope for, what they love. I think the best way to have a connection with someone is to actually care about who they are. Modeling is a largely misunderstood thing. Physical symmetry is all fine and great, but someone who can connect to their own emotions is invaluable. I also try to be emotionally vulnerable myself. Nothing will kill a vibe faster than a know-it-all. As far as direction, I used to give more direction than I do now. More and more the only advice I give is to think about a particular emotion, and try to give that energy back to them. When genuine trust and emotional creativity is being exchanged, really amazing things start to happen. You can feel it. There have been a couple times where I have gotten serious goosebumps right before a powerful shot is taken. I honestly believe that when you click the shutter at a moment of mutual trust, that image can somehow share the emotion of that moment with whoever sees it.