I try to mix aesthetics with unpredictability. It turns out you really can do the same thing over and over and achieve different results, at least when the core ingredients are interesting enough.
JK: I’m curious what has inspired [this] series?
MM: Well I can’t think of anything more interesting to photograph than people. And I can’t think of any people more interesting to photograph than women… To be honest I grew up looking at a lot of fashion photographers and also looking at a lot of music photographers. And there came a point where music photography and fashion photography intersected, and the photographers themselves became rock stars. And that seemed to be what they did. They really tried to construct their own private universe where things happened that may have been random but were still things that were exclusive to that universe. I really love people like Mapplethorpe, Herb Ritts, and Avedon. People who could… they weren’t going to do just journalism or they weren’t going to do just formal portraiture, not that there is anything wrong with that, but they really wanted to make every image some kind of commentary on appearance or often gender and often sensuality, often sexuality. And all of those things fascinate me. That’s always been the driving force in my work. Also women are just really cool.
JK: So you don’t photograph men ever? Have you ever tried?
MM: You know what, it’s hard to find a man with the courage that a woman has to do this. To do any of the things that a woman would do in an image.
JK: I find that very interesting.
MM: If you look at men on the street, 90% of them all look the same. You’ll notice the 1% because you can’t believe you saw it. You’ll stop and you’ll say, “wait what was that?” But then you’ll go back to all the men that look the same. There’s really only (especially in American Culture) two of three ways for men to present themselves in the world… I can literally tell what season it is by how women present themselves to the world.
JK: Not just in what they are wearing?
MM: Well it is partly what they’re wearing, but also partly how they are wearing it… There’s a lot of complicated give and take between women and the world.
MM: I am actually a big fan of selfies. I don’t take them myself but I am a fan of other people’s because I love to see people who are showing you exactly what they want you to know about themselves. And that to me is fascinating….
JK: So you love the empowerment [behind a selfie]?
JK: Would you say that some of these images, that’s the ultimate goal; to empower women through these photos?
MM: I like to think that the people who work with me are already empowered. They already know that they have a lot to offer. They have something to say, and they use their body’s to say that. All I have to do is basically make sure it’s lit right. So I am not really doing a lot. It seems like I am doing a lot, and people might think I am doing a lot, but I am really not doing much of anything except finding the right people, and moving them around until the light hits them the right way.
JK: So do you just sit back and watch it happen?
MM: I guess I set up the situation but I also allow them to be who they are going to be and I think that’s what gives each image it’s particular flavor, it’s particular ring, it’s particular excitement. Really I am doing the same thing over and over and over again, but each time since the ingredient changes the image is completely different.
Listen to the whole interview here:
Follow Moten on Instagram to see more of his work!