Can you tell me much about how you initially got into photography; was your appreciation for art instilled within you from an early age?
My mom was never really a working "artist" or anything, but she was always such a creative person and a great painter. She never pushed art on me, but completely nurtured my interest in all creative things, and still supports it all to this day. Many parents would be super terrified about their kid wanting to live as a an artist, but she has so much faith in which is amazing. I think I really got into photographs through riding BMX though. I started riding BMX bikes When I was about 11 or 12 and I always just wanted to have someone take a picture of a truck I was trying to do or something, just so I could see what it looked like. Then a few of my good friends started seriously shooting BMX photographs and I was getting more into professional riding, but I still wanted to make photographs. I Just got to a point though where it was like, I don't like the idea of setting up all of these flashes and waiting to create a moment, I just wanted to capture a moment that was happening, and I suppose that's how my obsession with photographs began.
So many of your photos look like snapshots of a fleeting moment in time, do you rely on events happening around you or do you ever find yourself being inclined to set opportunities up?
This goes back to the end of the first question. A friend of mine owed me a $100 or something and in exchange gave me a super sharp point and shoot camera and that was probably like 2005, and I was never was without that camera again. I just took photographs of my friends and I loved it, because I knew everyone so well, that they never questioned why I was taking these photos. The most beautiful thing to me is uninhibited youth. I mean to a point, its almost documentary work….but I feel like that's a weird title to give it, just because so much documentary work is a photographer shooting photographs of something that he or she doesn't know or isn't closely involved with. I've known my the people in my photographs for years and im close with them, intimate with them, I'm doing the same things as them, I'm just making photographs at the same time. Here and there, as I've been getting more photo jobs, I have to think about ways to set things up or re-create certain situations, but at this point I really still enjoy those photographing reality, even though to many my reality is kind of a fantasy.
What has it been like working with the man Ryan McGinley? Has he influenced your aesthetic or nurtured your technical abilities?
Ryan is one of the dearest people in my life and I have learned so much from him and have so much love for him. I wouldn't say that Ryan influenced my aesthetic as much as he has just inspired me to do what I want…not really conform to anything. When Ryan does something, whether it be a show or a commercial job, he really cares about it, he really nurtures it, he really wants to make the best that it can, and I think everyone can appreciate that. It's hard for me to even talk about Ryan in words he means so much to me, his work and his love for people cannot be described in an email ya know?
Besides working with Ryan, which artists, either past or present would you enjoy working with?
Thats a tough one, so many people! My favorite thing ever is seeing other artist's processes and how they think and how they work. If there was one person I could have ever worked for or with though, it would have been Richard Avedon. Although his aesthetic hardly relates to mine, I love the emotion in his photographs, theres so much of you can read from a simple portrait of his against a white seamless. He was kind of insane about making photos and I feel like I'm starting to relate. If I don't take at least a few photos a day, I have so much anxiety it's crazy.
Do you have a favourite person to photograph, or a favourite camera to use?
I love photographing my friends really, I mean, for me at least, you can tell when someone is photographing someone that they have a real connection with. You can feel it in the image, there's a connection. As for one particular person, my friend Meghan Collison. I love her to death because she never stops me from taking her picture and she's just really gorgeous and unique from the inside out and he personality is super intriguing. It's so hard for me to take a photo of someone I don't truly care about. As for cameras, I don't really have a special camera set up, just a few point and shoots and a Leica SLR.
How would you describe your current collection of work to someone who has never witnessed it before? I guess what i'm trying to ask is, how would describe what you're trying to do with your photography in general?
I always find it tough to describe my work to someone that has never seen it, because all in all, it's so personal. It's my collection of memories. It's my documentation of fleeting youth I suppose. I think youth is so important, so delicate and that what I capture in my photographs.
What would be typical day in NYC for you?
I usually wake up pretty early, like 9am or something close to that. Make some coffee or tea and check some emails and look around the internet for a bit and try to see what's up with my friends. Basically everyone I hang out with works crazy hours or parties super late so I'm usually on my own till around 4pm when my friends start waking up. I try to work on at least one project a day, lately it's been a new book. I might run some errands and then meet up and go out to eat with some my friends, after that, usually one of our friends is working at a bar where we can go and get some drinks for free and end up hanging out there for a few hours. Since it's been so cold in NYC, I always get stuck hanging out in a bar all night, but during summer we go out to a bar and then go on some serious adventures, whether it be a secret chinatown karaoke bar or a sketchy rooftop…a lot of nights we end up watching the sunrise on this billboard which is one my favorite places on earth, its so ironically romantic because it's this beautiful view of NYC but placed on a dirty roof in chinatown…I'm in love with it! After that everyone kinda disperses and heads home….always the saddest part of the day. Usually I'll get home with a few shot rolls of film in my pocket from the day and night!