INTERVIEW WITH DWELL MAGAZINE | October 14, 2010 By Bradford Shellhammer
BS: Why did you create An Afternoon With?
MM: It’s just what I’ve been doing for so long. I needed an outlet for all these pictures I was taking. I would shoot interesting people because they inspired me. Yet the pictures would just get buried in my archives. There were so many people whose story I wanted to share, people I knew with whom I had a connection. Rather than just store them away I decided to put them online for others to see. I wanted to create some very unfiltered images, to try and look at things with fresh eyes. So there is no preparation for the photos, no styling, and no retouching.
BS: What has been the biggest surprise learned from this project?
MM: Just how open and warm everyone has been. The subjects I’ve shot have to recommend someone else for the project, usually someone I don’t even know. They’ll look at what I’m doing and decide to be a part of it. It’s the people I am meeting who are the most rewarding aspect of the project. Discovering who these people are and learning about the things we have in common. And the conversations are amazing! It’s incredible how open and honest everyone has been with me. The biggest surprise is how much I am growing through this process.
BS: Have you ever shot someone whose apartment/home was nothing like them?
MM: No. Our home is our greatest mirror. People can hide behind their clothes, but their home speaks volumes about them. The things we own and choose to hold on to say so much about who we are.
BS: You have another blog featuring images of your inspirations. Where do you find inspiration?
MM: I love blogs like: JJJ Jound, One Mans Style, and The Impossible Cool. Lately, I’ve looked at a lot of blogs like Secret Forts, The Selvedge Yard, Ten Engines, and Foster Huntington’s A Restless Transplant. Foster has such a fresh take on things. It’s refreshing to see. I also have a collection of tear sheets that I save for inspiration. When I started gathering images from the web, it just grew and I wanted to put these out there. Every visual person has some sort of mood board. The Refind is mine.
BS: What are the favorite things in your home?
MM: After my family (three kids and a gorgeous partner with whom I am engaged to be married) my favorite things are my Noguchi lamp. I just love the soft glow it throws. The texture of the paper. The bamboo pole. Its sublime. I collect bones, horns and seeds from my travels around the world. For some reason I am very attached to these things. Then I have three drawings of Isabel Toledo by Ruben Toledo. He did them during a shoot we did, which he later signed and gave to me. They remind me of one of my all time favorite shoots (the real precursor to An Afternoon With…) They also remind me of my sister whom I love very much so they are very dear to me.
BS: Other than showing them on your site, what do you intend to do with the photos from the An Afternoon With?
MM: I would love to have an exhibition of the images, as some of these pictures need to be seen big. Then I would invite everyone who is a part of the project. To have all of these people in one room would be amazing.
BS: You’ve shot some very interesting people -Tom Ford, Marilyn Minter, John Updike. Who were you most excited about shooting?
MM: That’s a tough question. Since I am not a typical portrait photographer, I get to spend a bit more time with my subjects. Therefore each shoot is an opportunity to meet and get to know someone who is really interesting. So I look forward to each and every shoot. Though, I’d have to say John Updike was very intimidating at first…then we connected and he gave me a great shot.
BS: What does someone’s home say about them?
MM: As I said before our homes are our greatest mirror. It speaks about our daily lives and our approach to things. It speaks about our values and desires. It speaks about who we are and who we want to be. It reveals in one way or another who we are deep inside.