Greg Reynolds

Published by Matthew Attard Navarro on 12-Mar-2011 Fashion

Greg Reynolds’ naturalistic & timeless photography is an example of perfect technique & a brilliant eye for characters, Greg manages to portray the beauty of people through a very coherent, documented manner, we go on a one on one with the man himself.

Why did you get into photography?

Photography was a creative passion that I returned to following a ten-year absence.  At 21 or 22, a missionary friend gave me a Pentax 35 mm SLR.  At that time, I was an born-again Christian working for an American Evangelical Youth Movement in Indiana and Kentucky. I knew nothing technically or historically about photography at that time. I just took photographs of my friends and colleagues and the different situations and circumstances in which I found myself.  These images are now part of a series called, 'Jesus Days, 1978-1983' and were recently featured in the German publication, Vorn Magazine.

After leaving this Christian ministry, I came out as a Gay man and moved to New York City, where I entered the Film School of Columbia University.  I had always had an interest in art, photography and movies.  Ten years later, I picked up a camera and started shooting again, only this time I began to learn all aspects of the camera and developing film and printing black and white photographs in a darkroom.  Soon I found myself teaching b/w photography at Barnard College in NYC.   I like to believe that we can change our lives many different times.

What are your favorite subjects?

My favorite subject has always been people:  my family, my friends, my colleagues, my lovers.  I love portraits and my work and interest in fashion stems from portraiture.  Even though how I shoot remains the same, the context changes dependent upon the subject, whether the subject be a family member, a friend, a model or a lover. 

And you seem to experiment with fashion photography sometimes too, how do you find that?

Fashion photography allows and encourages the creative impulse, freeing me to shoot in a way that feels right for me.

Do you feel you need to define a difference between your fine art fashion photography or the purely commercial, or do you ideally blend the two?

I don't differentiate fine art and commercial, because I've never really considered myself a commercial photographer.  My work has always tended to be of a personal nature, although I do have to consider not only my intentions but the purpose of the shoot when I shoot models or fashion. 

Who or what has been your main inspiration as a photographer ?

The cinema has always inspired me far more than photography, although I love the master photographers such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and the two Georges, George Platt Lynes and George Hoyningen-Huene.  The great classic films of the 1930s through the 1950s has always been an influence:  the comedies of Ernst Lubitsch (Midnight andTrouble in Paradise and Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, Sabrina, Some Like it Hot) as well as, Preston Sturges  (The Lady Eve, Palm Beach Story and Sullivan's Travels).   These films combined beautiful people and clothes with great stories; the cinematography has influenced me greatly as to how I see light and shadow.

Do you move in your inspiration’s direction or do you just use that as a starting base?

I move more in the direction of inspiration, photographer/artist.  I allow the subject and the environment and the reason for shooting to all inspire me and influence the shots, although I always arrive at every shoot with a plan, but allow it to change if necessary.

What do you think of the current industry & do you think fashion photography in general has progressed, or do you believe we’ve regressed to try to emulate the works of old masters?

I'm not sure how to answer this question.  In some ways I'm not sure if the old masters are such an influence.  I think that the same situation with photography also happens in the movie industry.  You see a repetition of ideas.  It all begins to look the same.  Although the movie industry looks for the new, they keep regurgitating the same thing.  Younger film makers and photographers are aware often of only what has happened in the last five years, and have little idea of what came before.

Are there any projects you are working on?

I am working on two photography based books.  The one, Jesus Days, was previously mentioned.  The other book, Kentucky Family Pictures, is a series of images of my family that covers three decades.  During this time frame, you see my parents move from vigorous mid-life to the slower pace of old age, and you see the development of my niece and two nephews from childhood into adolescence.  My niece, Leslie Anne, has always reminded me of my mother, and watching her grow up has allowed me to see what my mother was probably like when she was a young girl.  Leslie Anne appears in the series around the age of five and six and now she is eighteen and a freshman in college.

What subjects do you prefer photographing?

I have always preferred to photograph men.  I love women, but I find it difficult to shoot them the way I want to, natural, real and fresh, rather than encumbered with a lot of make up and hair product.  I find much more freedom shooting men.  A beautiful man can still look beautiful in a t-shirt, unshaved and messy hair. 

What is your favorite photography medium and your preferred camera?

Film rather than digital has been my preferred method of capturing the still image.  I shoot with a Contax 645 medium format film camera with the phenomenal Carl Zeiss lens.  I love the look of film and I believe the limitations can be an asset as opposed to a liability.  Because you pay per shot (for film and film processing), it forces you to think before you shoot.  I shoot very carefully.  It is too easy with a digital camera to shoot a thousand photos and then try to find a few that look good. (Who wants to spend that time editing?)  After the film is developed I make super high-resolution scans on an Imacon Flextight scanner.  The scan is superb and I work with this (using limited photoshop) to produce the final image.

What do you like in fashion & what do you dislike?

I look at fashion publications all the time, especially men's magazines.  I never tire of looking at beautiful men and women, yet I find myself thumbing through the pages so quickly, immediately forgetting what I saw on the preceding page.  I find a repetition of the same ideas, and I'm not really inspired looking at a model who looks like they were just in a bad traffic accident.

For more images we recommend checking out Greg’s website to see a variety of his works, our favourite being the Jesus Days collection.

More on www.greg-reynolds.com

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