BY Albert Smith
March 06 2010 5:00 AM ET
How do you choose your subjects?
Really it’s all about how we interact. Most of my subjects are friends, with the occasional total stranger who captured my attention while selling me food or at a bar. I get a little nervous when I ask a stranger but I usually do it because we’ve had a moment, not necessarily sexual, but one that lets me know we connect on some level. I like the guys who have some sense of style, or an atypical sense of beauty. Some friends have been in every series I’ve done. I think they like that we’re going to do something out of the ordinary, potentially illegal or at least not sanctioned by society and there’s a sense of liberation in doing so.
How do you describe your work?
When people ask me what I photograph I say I like to put people in unusual predicaments and photograph the outcome.
What makes a good photograph to you?
One where everybody in the photograph is resonating with one another and the camera. The subjects look good, the camera is in the right place, the lighting’s good and everything just feels right. I can usually tell as I’m taking it that I’ve got the perfect photo right there. It’s not always the prettiest one either – sometimes it’s the most uncomfortable.
Who are your favorite artists? And why?
Kiki Smith – she works in so many different mediums and excels at them all. I love how intimate her work is and what she shows you of her inner self, yet there’s a sense of expert craftsmanship to the work so the work is both personal yet glossy. As for photographers, right now I am totally in love with Jeff Bark’s work (jeffbark.com) – his photographs are beautifully lit and the subject matter is stunning, plus he reminded me how I could photograph women without falling into the usual trap of just displaying surface beauty. Gregory Crewdson and Anthony Goicolea were both influential in helping me build ideas around fictive narratives, and Sally Mann shows the world in a beautifully intense way, whether she’s photographing her children or decaying corpses.