New York, 11/12/2009
I already can feel you wondering from Shangai to Belize who that man on top might be?
Let me explain…
A couple of months ago I was surfing the web to stumble on this picture right here:
Knowledge is power and being curious by nature I decided to figure out who took this very familiar Mos Def picture. I’ve seen that picture online and in several magazines for as long as I can remember but… who took it? One click led to the other and I quickly stumbled over somebody with the name Mike Schreiber. When I eventually googled his name, his official website popped up as a result. The minute I start browsing his work I got intrigued. This individual apparently took a lot of hiphop and rap artists and did a pretty good job while doing it. Because I’m a nice person and I know some of you like pretty pictures instead of long stories I already chose some of my favorites for you guys.
M.I.A by Mike Schreiber
ODB by Mike Schreiber
More M.I.A by Mike Schreiber
Jim Jones by Mike Schreiber
Even mòre M.I.A. by Mike Schreiber
Nas by Mike Schreiber
COMMON by Mike Schreiber
and an overdose of M.I.A. coolness by Mike Schreiber
Tristan Wilds from THE WIRE (my Baltimore obsession) and one of my favorite actors in the series. That boy KILLED it!
And if musicians and stars are not enough for ya, I’m very happy to show you these ones (and my personal favorites)
OROMA by Mike Schreiber
My curiosity was triggered to the fullest, and with a coming trip to NY and this little blog expanding, I contacted Mike with the question of meeting up. Mike, laid back and kind has he his, invited me to come to NY, meet up and have a little chat. This blog is all about the destination to an individual you know by work and not by heart and the excitement and disappointment that goes with it. So when I get an open invitation to come over, I just do it. You get addicted to the unknown. At least I do.
So a couple of weeks later me and Jules found ourselves in front of an NY appartement block in the LES. Mike welcomed us in a cosy warm appartement and not much later we got to business which resulted into this mini Q&A. So, there were plenty of pictures, now it is time to READ.
OUNI LIKES MIKE SCHREIBER
Being a photographer, it appears that you made your hobby a profession since your subjects are mostly muscians, rappers, thugs, basketball players and some female subjects here and there. What made you go or push you in that direction?
It basically just happened. I got certain things on assignment and things got going from then on. I never plan stuff and just see where a certain direction takes me. I don’t want to limit myself or put myself into a certain ‘box’. My work does not reflect that image. It’s griddy, raw and real. I studied anthropology so I guess some aspects of my work got influenced by it. Record labels contact me for work so that might explain the amount of thugs in my work like C Murder and Jim Jones.
Can I state that I sense a certain preference for black and white images?
We see in color everyday, that’s probably why I am more drawn to black and white. It’s a personal preference, I love the end result more than a colored one that might become faster a boring image sort or less. Black and white is more special to me.
You took a whole lot of pictures from M.I.A., probably the first pictures that travelled the world of her. How did that happen?
I first took a picture from her on assignment for URB magazine, and some time after that happened I got a call from XL Recordings in London with the question if I could take her press pictures. So that’s the very simple story behind it.
Ever had the experience where an artist was hard to work with or didn’t like the directions you gave him or her?
I don’t really give my subjects any directions, it tends to stiffen them up, so I just put them where I want them to be and start shooting.
Any specific artist you would love to see between your other portraits?
Tom Waits because he is everything I consider a legit artist should be and SADE.
You already have a long career in this, what are you most happy about until today.
I’m proud of my body of work and the fact that I always stayed true to myself. The best compliment for me is that my work is recognizable. And I am happy to be able to do what I do, although things got harder than it used to be. Budgets are down and digital photography is taking over. People ask me why I still keep with the analog film and honestly I am tired of answering that question for people who already have the answer that the film is much better and that digital is much cheaper. For me, it just does not make any sense. I have been doing this for twelve years now and I know for myself why I prefer shooting analog.
How do you see your career evolve in the future?
I’d really just like to continue doing good work that I find interesting and hopefully inspire and help people through my pictures. I’d like to do more advertising work to help fund my own little projects that are meaningful to me.
What are you working on most recently?
I’m working on a book that’s supposed to be released in August, and i’m working on my Ghana show that’s going to be unveiled in the spring.
Which 3 words pop up when I say BELGIUM?
chinese food….clogs….and..larry bird.
After the interview it was time to take a picture of the photographer which made me (of course and as usual) nervous as hell. Mike is a great poser though… Since we see in color everyday I decided to make them black and white in honor of my subject.
Mike doing his ‘sexy’ pose. Feeling this one ladies?
I’ll leave you with this final message.
Mike put one of his most famous picture on Ebay auction and will donate every penny to DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS, his little way of a helping hand for HAITI. So If you want M.I.A. hanging up your wall, you know what to do.