Artist Abolitionist: Michael George, Photographer
In this interview, massively talented Michael George, a Brooklyn based photographer, humbly and humorously speaks of how he found himself pursuing photography as his medium of choice and what it means to turn one's “lens outward”. We loved these thoughtful responses, but seriously folks, his breath-taking images speak for themselves.
|Photos by Michael George|
NN: Tell us about how you discovered photography?
MG: Here’s a funny story. One afternoon my sister wasn’t in the “Parent Pick Up” line when the school day ended. I walked over from my middle school (Cypress Lake! Go Panthers!) to her high school and found her in the darkroom. I was about to yell at her for forgetting about me but then I found a print in the developer heavily distracting. It felt like magic… and I got a little obsessed. Eventually in high school I took a photography course. My Mom drove me to the mall where a man with a magnificent beard showed me around Ritz Camera. Eventually we narrowed our selection down to two options. A cheap Canon and an expensive Canon. Using my prime high school bartering skills I somehow convinced my Mom to indulge in the expensive one. It is going to sound incredibly cliché and possibly false – but I swear I remember there being a moment where I earnestly said to her “I’m going to be really into this.”
And I was.
NN: What is your favorite project to date and what was the inspiration?
MG: When I was a junior in college I decided I was going to bike across the country. I wasn’t sure how but I knew it was going to happen. Eventually I found an organization called Bike & Build, which allowed me to reach my goal while also indulging one of my other passions – volunteering. What I didn’t know is that the photographs I took on that journey would eventually become my senior thesis: “This Is Not Real.”
Through that project I realized that I wanted my images to tell a story. Not just my story but also the stories of others. Up until that point all of my photography projects had been self-referential. As a photographer I think I need to keep a visual diary but it is just as important to turn the lens outward.
|Photos by Michael George|
NN: Your photos are expansive, yet complete - they leave us feeling satisfied...do you agree? In what ways have you seen your photography transform you? others?
MG: I am always surprised by how others see my photographs. Socially I am a rather loud and smiley guy. When I am alone things are much quieter. My photography often conveys that tone. If I have any goal with my photography it is to say more than just “This is beautiful.” I want my images to tell you why they are beautiful, silly, or hopefully profound. I don’t know if I can agree with your specific description because I never see my photographs the same way others do. For me there’s too much baggage. Showing my photography is like sharing my deepest judgments.
Photography has transformed every aspect of my life. It has helped me build relationships with people I would otherwise have no contact with. Often times if I meet someone whom I find interested I will simply ask to take his or her portrait. No one has ever turned me down.
My camera forces me to do things I probably wouldn’t do otherwise. If I am hesitant I tell myself if it will make a good photograph, it will make a good memory. You have to take risks with photography which, in turn, helps you take risks in your every day life. Would I walk across a foreign country (twice) if I didn’t have my camera pushing me from behind? Possibly. But the images keep me going.
NN: One of Nomi’s aspirations is to inspire hope in the women we work with as well as our supporters. What is your biggest hope for your art work and your audiences?
MG: In the coming year I plan to focus on stories that bring out a shared humanity across cultures. One of the reasons I am about to embark on a project focused on a religious pilgrimage is because the Camino removes all sense of self. Even though you meet people from all over the world, we are all pilgrims. My hope in the future is to find more stories of people or places that live simply and focus on community. More and more I think people need to be reminded that life doesn’t happen on a screen. Happiness isn’t found in a new car. I always feel like I am on the cusp of sounding like a modern day hippie but… really… I think people just need to calm down.
|Photos by Michael George|
NN: How can someone follow you or learn more about your work?
MG: The easiest way to follow my work is to subscribe to my Facebook page, Tumblr, or Instagram. For a more coherent picture you can visit my website at http://www.michaelgeorgephoto.com
NN: If you are an Artist Abolitionist or a friend who wants to support this movement please buy a campaign tee or tank today! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and the number of tees or tanks you’d like.
Then share a photo of yourself in your tee or tank top with Nomi’s Instagram account (http://instagram.com/nominetworknyc#) by using hashtag #togetherwithnomi so we can see the faces supporting the cause!
- Michael George & Alissa Moore
I loved reading this interview. Michael, you are right, we need to slow down. Your outward view captures that notion; pause and reflect. I wish you well pilgrim, and I look forward to seeing the world through your lens. Safe travels. xoxoReplyDelete
Love this article. It gave me an "in" to my nephew, Michael George, that I didn't have before.ReplyDelete