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A CORRESPONDENCE WITH PHOTOGRAPHER DAMIEN MALONEY

When we stumbled over Damien’s work and we couldn’t find a word about it or even him, we knew that we had to interview this San Fransico-based photographer!
Damien Maloney’s images show both candid moments and arranged scenes with a pure but bold imagery. A photographer who combines these elements of photography even if they differ stylistically. He was born in Texas, grew up in Phoenix, is based in San Francisco and finally he had an interview with us working on the other side of the globe through digital media.
Let’s not waste any further words for the introduction and let us get started with the talk. …

Nowadays many talented ‘photographers’ aren’t real ones, at least they haven’t got an educational background in it, or even worked with photographers. Have you had any educational background in photography?
I graduated with a BA in english linguistics from Arizona State University. Later on I moved to California and worked as an assistant for some of the best editorial and commercial photographers for a couple years.

What was the reason for you moving to San Francisco?
I moved away from Arizona because I didn’t feel inspired to work there and wanted to go somewhere that excited me, though now that I have been away I now see Arizona differently and want to spend more time there.

We are always interested in the format the photographers are using for their shots. So now to you…analogue or digital? When do you use which format?
I like working with film because the way I think about taking pictures becomes different. Digital makes the whole process a lot faster, which can be both good and bad.
If I’m using lighting I’ll reference with digital so I can immediately see what I’m doing but really the camera you use is just one part of the equation and I don’t think it matters so much on its own!

Your works range between documentary photography and fashion regarding the photos on your website. Do you combine these directions?
I want them all to exist together, even if they differ stylistically, as they are all getting at the same thing. Making pictures in the world feels very new to me and I’m still getting used to it.
I’m more interested in the boundary of where an unstaged photo becomes elevated or conversely where a staged photo represents a seemingly candid moment. I was indoctrinated early on working for newspapers that nothing in the picture could be arranged or influenced by the photographer. After entering commercial and editorial photography, I found that I really enjoyed directing and setting things up so I like to play with that.

What interests you the most about taking documentary photographs?
My introduction to photography was to photojournalism through working at my college paper. I have never had much interest in making the exalted _photojournalist-type’ photo. something Torbjorn Rodland wrote, “the only photojournalistic images which remain interesting are those that produce or evoke myth” comes to mind.

There are so many things I see but cannot photograph and sometimes those things get worked into the photos I construct.
Many images show a monochrome but colored background. A style which can be seen quite often in your portfolio. When and how did this stylistic element evolve?

When I first started photographing in the studio using a solid colored background came naturally. The process of constructing a photo in an empty room and choosing a background and lighting was very new and exciting to me.

Architects for example, working a lot with references to demonstrate the feasibility of their own design. Thereby the client could be better convinced. Do you work with references? Which and who are they?
Outside of my friend group of amazing photographers, I like looking at Alasdair McLellan, Francesco Nazardo, Torbjorn Rodland, Paul Outerbridge and Nickolas Muray.

Thanks a lot to Damien Maloney for these interesting insights into his work and background.

All images are courtesy of © Damien Maloney. The image below (first image): ‘Amy Everson’ with Molly Matalon.

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