The Creators of NYC: Fashion Photographer Michael Donovan
Josh Wool spent a decade as an executive chef, opening restaurants across the south. But all that changed in 2010, when the carpal tunnel in his hands meant he could no longer work. To keep from going stir crazy, he picked up a camera and found his next calling. Two years, thousands of portraits, and a move to New York later, Wool is documenting the people who inspire him on a daily basis. Welcome to Creators of NYC.
I first saw Michael Donovan’s work about a year ago, and I was immediately taken with how well he balanced pure, raw emotion and refined elegance in his images. He is part of the new generation of creatives who are making an impact on the art world. I met up with Michael in SoHo for coffee and a walk around the neighborhood to check out street art.
Someone once said every photograph is a self portrait. How much of you comes through in your work?
My work is a lot like me in the sense that I’m just human and it reflects that. Sometimes it’s all dressed up and with conservative company. Other times it’s dirty or naughty. Other times it’s having a spiritual awakening. It’s angelic, devilish, good-natured, helpful, cantankerous, and everything else.
How’d you end up in photography?
I’ve always had a camera and was shooting girlfriends and cityscapes, but I was also doing comedy and would walk around running comedy material in my head. I remember standing at a Walgreens looking at some postcards thinking “I can shoot that,” so I started to shoot street scenes to post on my MySpace blog and emailed them to friends back in Portland and Spokane. Eventually I asked a friend if I could shoot her and found shooting beautiful women was much more entertaining than having bottles thrown at me by drunk hecklers.
Do you have a favorite subject to shoot?
It changes but obviously I love shooting beautiful women. And I also like discovering new talent and shooting/promoting them. I love the city and nature and regular people. Shooting opens me to new experiences and people so I don’t want to limit myself by closing any doors.
Describe your process.
I was just talking about this with some friends the other day. I’m not one of those guys that can start with an idea and execute the thing two weeks later in a precise order. I’m more about following the winds and riding the energy of life. I usually get a general theme or idea, then bend it.
You get a lot of questions from fans. What do they usually ask?
Most questions are like “What kind of camera do you use?” or “Do you fuck the models?” so I turned off the anonymous feature occasionally when I grew tired of those type of questions. But occasionally you get that one amazing question from an anonymous individual that makes you think a little more about your life and art. I have also received messages from non-photographers who told me my work inspired them or excites them. That is a gift to me.
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