Mikey McMichaels credits the photographer, Antonin Kratochvil, for teaching him to be able recognize and articulate the power of photography. Recently Mikey realised the power of his own images when a stranger contacted him out of the blue to thank him for helping her (through his photographs) to recover from an eating disorder and body dismorphic disorder. “Creating that kind of change”, Mikey says, “Makes all of the effort worthwhile, even if it is just for one person.”
When discussing his imagery, Mikey is hesitant to agree that his photographs are erotic, and likens their creation to composing music.
To accompany his printed photographic essay in our launch issue, we caught up with Mikey to have a chat about his images. The full interview can be read, with his essay of Desalle, in the magazine.
At what point does a nude photograph become erotic?
I think it’s the other way around. Initially everything, especially something you haven’t experienced is erotic. Once you experience those thing things, they’re no longer new, and they stop being erotic. The camera always captures the truth. As you get older, you are simply better able to perceive that in the photo and see through what’s fake. Much of erotic photography is actually fake erotic photography.
You can either arouse a viewer of a photo by showing them something physical, or you can show them the way the subject feels, and arouse the viewer through empathy. The latter is where the power of photography lies.
Your shoots appear to encourage the models to be expressive, and offer a great sense of personality. Is that important to you?
The reason to shoot a person instead of an object is for their humanity. I want the model to show herself or part of herself, or show herself through what she invents, which creates an underlying portrait element in all of the photos. Personality is more than important: it is the only thing that is relevant.
You seem to have a prodigious work rate, and you are hugely focused on social media in showcasing your work. What do you do to relax?
Before social media, the only quantification of someone’s audience was box office numbers or Neilson ratings. Tumblr is important over the long term because it defines your audience with a number. At some point that number becomes big enough that it expands your opportunities.
I’ve made my living doing things that other people spend their free time doing. I don’t really need to do something else to relax.
Check out more of Mikey McMichaels’s work at his tumblr site