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Through The Lens

Maya Washington

November 16, 2009, by Chelsea Coyle

Location
Vancouver

Website
  • www.mayawashington.com
  • (article continues below)

    Tiera
    model: Next's Tiera, by Maya Washington

    What photographers have influenced you and how?
    I'd say my earliest photography influences were Steve McCurry and Steven Meisel. McCurry for his immense narrative told in a single shot. There's just so much going on and yet so little done but being present to capture those moments. I enjoy his little to no production involved to achieve his results, just the basics. And ironically I enjoy Meisel for the very opposite reason. Meisel's works are theatrical grandeur. Having trained as a classical theatre actor I can appreciate Meisel's wonderful direction. His models are transformed into actors and his sets are just spectacular. It is no easy task to create either man's work. Although both photographers come from different world's they both understand the evocative use of colour, which I happen to have a love affair with.

    Did you have a moment when you realized, within yourself, that you were skilled enough to do this for a living and if so when was that or what was it like?
    I've had a passion for the arts since I can remember, but making a living solely as a photographer has been hard for me to believe and that's because I have many artistic endeavors, which I'm trained in. My photography however is self-taught. I've never taken a course or even bought a book on the subject. My education came to me through subscriptions to National Geographic and a bunch of fashion magazines and I kind of just started looking at the images in an analytical way. “How did they do that?” I started off with my first film SLR in 2002 while living in Los Angeles and it kind of snowballed since then. I've realized several times throughout the years I could do this for a living. I guess I'm still searching. Photography is an obsession for me but I'd eventually like to see it evolve into filming. New York will be home in 2010 where I'll be taking my photography to the next level.

    What inspires you to continue shooting and how do you keep motivated when a certain shot or moment just doesn't happen?
    Being a better artist inspires me to keep shooting. I can always be better, I can always try harder, I can always explore something new. It's never ending. When a moment doesn't happen it tends to be due to “stuck in head syndrome”. I tend to act really silly and call for a break if this happens. Humor, food, and rest are the best remedies for stress.

    As a photographer (and sometimes art director), where do you find your own artistic inspiration?
    My inspiration comes from everything, including my peers. There are a lot of established and up and coming photographers that constantly push me to do my best. There are just so many talented and creative people out there these days and with the internet there's just that much more exposure to artists I would otherwise never hear of. Outside of photography I'm inspired by music, dance, movies, plays, people, books, light, the outdoors…just about everything really. Another of my idols who inspire me is director Tim Burton. His work combines everything I love and that's a long list. To sum it up I'd say I love how he juxtaposes fantasy and reality into one world. He is absolutely brilliant!

    What is your favourite shoot to date?
    My favorite shoots are the pleasant surprises, when everything has been mapped out only to make new discovers behind the lens. I make it a point to push my limits as an individual and an artist. It's such a great reward when everyone involved is invested and magic happens.

    What do you look for when casting?
    I look for a combination of personality, confidence, professionalism and looks. Personality keeps the energy up, confidence makes the camera love you, professionalism wows the entire team and looks sell the story. A perfect casting for me is a model that has all of these traits which truly leaves a lasting impression.

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