"Know Your Talent" - Aaron McPolin
How often you can say that you have met an artist? An artist whos view on photography opens up something in yourself, pushes bit desire to create something more than just a beautiful and technically correct photo.
In this part of the series, I'm happy to introduce and dissect my experience with Perth photographer Aaron McPolin.
Watch the interview here:
WHO ARE YOU?
Aaron McPolin caught my attention a while ago - nice minimalism with complicated poses - like his character. He mainly does high-fashion or hair-fashion campaigns. Some of his works are published in Vogue, Playboy and Beautiful Bizarre. And some other works have turned into exhibitions in L.A and New York.
I posted in Perth Model Mayhem Group that I'm looking talents for the YouTube series "Know Your Talent". Got to mention that I got many recommendations and I have also met many amazing talents - Aaron McPolin is one of them. On a side note - many more talents to come.
Back to subject - He studied design at Curtin University and had to buy a camera related to one of his courses (Canon 400D) and to be honest, he was annoyed about it at first. Most of the portraits he did of his dog. So it was about 2009
Soon after that, his curiosity grew and he found a book from the university library called
Nicknight by Nick Knight. That gave him a strong realization "holy shit, this is what I wanna do!!" He was amazed by the work of Nick Knight - he inspired him interacting with models and moving lights on the set. Nick Knight was also one of the first ones who started broadcasting live photoshoots from London.
Not long after that every session he did in university he did 10 more outside of school. Our mutual friend and Perth fashion photography Godfather Chris Huzzard gave him the key to the studio and after hours he went there and tried out every light and modifier he could.
AN EXPERIENCE EXCHANGE
What I have noticed with most of the good photographers that they are humble and well mannered.
This interview was a bit different from all the others. This time photographer offered me an experience, an interesting experience. It wasn't a show-off or try-hard experience and I can tell that it made capturing B-roll and interview so much easier.
Also couldn't wait for the editing part. Don't get me wrong - I eagerly wait for every interview editing part. This time it just kept flowing, you know when you're in the zone and know in your head already the look of the outcome. Also, it could be part of the discovery of the two new editing techniques that made my workflow easier and more professional looking.
I'm glad to share this experience and hope it honours the work of the guest of this episode.
CONNECT AND EGO
One thing that caught my eye was that he's shooting in black and white. The reasoning behind it was pretty simple and yet understandable - colours are distracting in the process. A photographer should know the colours before he/she takes the photo.
Also, the connection with a model(s) and crew on set is important. That has been mention before quite a few time by other photographers on the interview series. You might know the technical side of photography very well but allowing others to have input in story, style or posing gonna make your work different and unique.
It's small things that impress me and I feel I really got to point it out - out of all the work he has done, he decided to mention work about graveyards and his father who passed away. He could have namedropped big publishes like Vogue, Playboy, Beautiful Bizarre - all those big publications I had to find myself from the internet. It feels like he is doing it really for the art and those big publishes are side-products not the main goal. It is something that is really refreshing to see.
Even if you have a clear vision and detailed mood board take time to listen to the ideas and opinions. You might stumble on something that might make your work something really different or unique. I remember from my personal experience when I worked with my favourite MUA LiMei make-up artist and how her input added value to the outcome.
AFTER THE SESSION
We talked about editing and body dysmorphia what's going on in the image re-touch industry. As I have mentioned before in my blogs and works that ethical editing is a rising trend in the Photoshoppers world.
Aaron mentioned a really good book by Eugenie Shinkle - Fashion as Photograph: Viewing and Reviewing Images of Fashion that addresses these kinds of issues in commercial and fashion photography.
Usually, he spends 3 hours on average on commercial work and for his own work does not have time restrictions - could be a few hours or could over 20 hours per image - as long it takes. All editing is done by himself.
At the end of the editing session, he puts an unedited layer on an edited product to see how much he changed the initial photo and to see if it's not too much.
I had a pleasant experience which kinda carried me to my photography existential crisis and it's good. I have been too long in comfort zone and putting my focus pretty much solely on the technical side of photography - light, posing and high-end retouch...but what do my photos say, what kind of stories they carry, who's stories they show. I'm I showing clear narrative?
What I learned that ideas for sessions should not be about my message on my copyrighted platform - giving people a platform to express themselves through visual forms - like in the Shibari session we did for the interview and Aarons last works have focused on where people have a voice while being in taboo. Changing peoples perception of the topic and educating in that sense. I find that really meaningful.
When I learned photography in polytechnic school they frequently told us that photos have to tell the story, and also in media where I worked for a short time, I was repeated that photos have to carry the story on their own BUT nobody could say how or what I should focus on. I'm glad that he could explain it to me in a calm and polite manner.
Check out Aaron's work: https://www.aaronmcpolin.com/
Aaron McPolin Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aaronmcpolin/