THIS MONTH REDMILK’S FOCUS IS ON SUMMER AND HOLIDAY VIBES, SO WE HAD THE CHANCE AND PLEASURE OF INTERVIEWING GRAY MALIN, THE BRILLIANT PHOTOGRAPHER WHO HAS DEVOTED YEARS TO TRAVEL THE WORLD ALWAYS TRANSPORTING THE VIEWER TO DIFFERENT PLACES. KNOWN FOR BRINGING THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR SEASIDE SHORES INTO FOCUS FROM A BIRD’S-EYE VIEW, COLLECTED IN THE EPONYMUS BOOK “BEACHES”, HERE WE TALK ABOUT HIS BEGINNINGS, INSPIRATIONS AND MUCH MORE…
What did inspire you to pursue a career in photography?
I started taking pictures when I was a teenager and I never really thought of it as a viable career, but in college I pursued it as a second major and never gave up on “the dream”. After I moved to LA for an internship at Paramount I landed a job working for the President of the studio and though it was a great opportunity, after one year I left because I knew I had to give photography a chance (my parents thought I was insane). Starting to take classes and intern for big photographers like David LaChapelle, I decided to take out a booth at a Sunday swap-meet in West Hollywood at Melrose and Fairfax. Though it was a humbling experience, I met so many incredible people in the community and was able to display my work effectively, learning first hand what people were looking for and eventually making a name for myself.
How would you describe your personal style?
Preppy with pops of color.
How do you usually start to visualise a new project?
It depends. The aerial series such as “A La Plage” & “A La Montagne” are more about capturing the joyfulness of being at the beach for a day of sun or hitting the slopes during your winter holiday. There is no instruction ahead of time, I’m simply flying above these moments and capturing the ones that catch my attention. Whereas, for a series that is very conceptual such as “Gray Malin at the Parker”, I certainly had very specific shots in mind. I pretty much created an entire storyline ahead of time and cast the characters for their roles like the Bellman Monkey greeting you as you arrive or your friendly Lifeguard Giraffe.
An highlight in your career?
I’m very proud of my “Antarctica” collection, as it was by far the most challenging body of work I have captured to this date. The beauty of the continent is phenomenal but with unforeseeable winds and shifting ice, it certainly is not the most cooperative place to shoot. It is one of the places that will change your entire perspective about our world.
What fascinates you about viewing subjects from above?
From above, the people with their umbrellas and towels create patterns that are eye-catching and unique in that, they are mere moments in time that can never be captured again.
Which are your top three locations where you’ve photographed?
This is such a hard question but I have to say the beaches of Cape Town and the beaches of St. Barth. The Italian Coast is also a photographer’s dream location (La Dolce Vita). I am completely taken with the effortless glamour of Italy’s beaches!
What’s the image (a painting, a photo, a movie frame, etc…) that had the biggest impact on yourself and your work?
Andre Kertesz was the first photographer whose work really moved me. I got to see an exhibition of his in Paris a few years later and I remember thinking I just had to be a professional photographer one day.
If you could have an imaginary conversation with three artists, dead or alive, who would you wish to talk to and about what?
I would say I’d love to speak with Slim Aarons about his timeless and luxurious photographs. Then, Christo and Jeanne-Claude about their forward thinking and structural work.
If you could live anywhere, where would that be?
To be honest, I love living in Los Angeles. This city is where my life, love and profession is based. But, I suppose in a fantasy I’d live in Cape Town. For me, Cape Town is the whole package! Beyond being a truly awe-inspiring country it has the most beautiful rugged coasts, incredible wildlife and a world class breathtaking wine country. It’s a must for anyone’s bucket list! In-fact, I am so taken with it I actually have been back twice since my first trip in 2011!
How did it feel to have a book published?
The creation of a book documenting my largest collection, “A la Plage”, was a goal I set for myself years ago. It’s the embodiment of a huge part of my work and insights into my adventures while making them. “BEACHES” is an opportunity to let people who already know my work in on a larger level as well as an amazing introduction to those who do not.
Do you have a personal motto?
“If a door is closed, just go up and knock on it!”