Last year, I had the opportunity to shoot at the STUNNING Towerbridge Penthouse Studio in London. Unfortunately for me, it has since closed down as the owners have moved to a new space.
Anyway, after the shoot, I was posting a few of my images on Instagram and another photographer who had shot at the studio liked my images. Long story short, I ended up falling in love with this guy's work. So, I thought it would be great to introduce his imagery to my followers. I'm really proud to introduce my first featured artist, Marc Ayres.
He was kind enough to take some time to talk to me about his work.
ImmortalMag: Let’s start from the beginning, what started you off in the business?
Marc Ayres: OK this is a long one so I’ll try and be quick. I graduated as an Illustrator but my degree course literally destroyed my passion for it, so when I graduated I fell into Graphic Design to make a living. The only problem I’ve had with that industry is that it is actually not very creative. Seriously. Your work is part of a team and the client rules over all. Although I’ve created some work I’ve been very proud of, I was still left with this personal creative need that wasn’t being fulfilled. That’s where photography came in. I had worked with photographers as part of my job and decided about 7 years ago to push myself into that creative outlet. I was extremely lucky to be working for a design agency that also pushed my photography and paid for me to complete a two year HNC photography course. So once a week I was out of work and back in college. Since then I have never looked back. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity they gave me. (Just to note, I was in my mid thirties at that time and already a Senior Graphic Designer, these opportunities are very rare and I was very lucky)
IM: Where does your inspiration come from?
MA: It comes from people. I find landscape photography fascinating and beautiful, but unless there is a person there then it leaves me cold. I shoot a lot of different genres, from erotic, portrait, street, sport and photojournalism, all have a person at the forefront.
IM: When did you first pick up a camera and realize this was something you wanted to do?
MA: I have loved photography long before I picked up a camera but it all started seriously when my grandfather passed away in 2010. He left me some money and had said to put that towards my creativity. So I bought a Canon 5d MkII, some lenses, and my journey with photography started. Since then I have never looked back.
IM: What do you find to be the most challenging part of a shoot?
MA: It all depends on what I’m shooting but I guess it has to be post production. The shoots themselves I love all aspects of, the planning, the model casting, the shoots themselves. The bit I find difficult is the post production aspect of it. Right from opening up your images in Adobe Bridge and picking the strongest, through to the editing and tweaking. I tend to revisit images time and again and make tweaks here and there, rather than just being happy with what I have. Perhaps it’s the freedom that Adobe Photoshop gives us, there are infinite ways we can change images now and sometimes I just need to stop. This may be part of the reason why I’ve started shooting Polaroid during my erotic and fashion shoots. That’s my shot, no going back, no editing. You can obviously cut them up later, remove the negative and scan it. That’s a 78 x 80mm negative for enlarging and all being good, can contain some stunning detail, but for the most part I tend to leave those shots alone.
IM: How do you find using polaroid as opposed to digital imagery ? Do you think it makes you plan a shot more?
MA: I strangely find Polaroid a bit more relaxing. I’m OK with a Polaroid if it’s blurred or cropped at an odd angle, it’s actually a bit liberating. I embrace the imperfection of it, where as if I was shooting RAW I would either A) bin the image or B) try and fix it.
IM: What is it about being a photographer that excites or inspires you the most?
MA: Hmm. The whole process excites me really. Planning a shoot, doing my research, right from fashion and erotic shoots, through to shooting at protests and sporting events. You still need to know what and who you are trying to capture and for what purpose. What and who is your image for? Why are you shooting erotic or fashion? Once you answer those questions then your work becomes stronger because you can focus not just on the image, but who is likely to see it and why they are seeing it. Some photographers say “my photography is for me, this is mine and this is how I want it to be” but then don’t get the reaction they wanted from their images and can’t figure out why. In reality I guess most of us do photography for the attention. I know I do. I may not like being in front of the camera, but I sure as hell like my images to be known as mine and myself getting the praise for them.
IM: So do you ‘live for the applause’ as GaGa says?
MA: YES. I’m not gonna lie, I love it. I love getting cool shots from the cage fighting or from a protest and people commenting on them. I loved speaking with people at Comic Cons and getting their reaction to the Geekrotica series. What surprised me most there was that women seemed to love it more than the guys did. Or at least, they were more confident to talk to me about the images and some actually offered to pose for the project which was incredible because I was very worried at how these images would be seen in the real world. You’re a bit immune to it on the internet, but when you’re face to face with people you can’t hide and you have to justify the project.
IM: What do you want people to take away from viewing your work?
MA: That’s a difficult one because I shoot so many styles. With my Geekrotica series I merged my passions for erotic photography and my passion for science fiction, so playful fun imagery that I managed to get onto tshirts and skateboards and sold them at a few Comic Cons which was an awesome experience. Reminds me to organise another shoot for that project haha. I then have my sport and photojournalism images, which I prefer to be much more hard hitting, getting right into the action. I’ve never been someone at a protest standing back and watching, I put on a mask and get in with the crowd. I believe you have to be in the action to get the most powerful image you can. Sometimes it works, sometimes you get hurt, but that is where the fun is and that’s what I love.
IM: Where did the concept for your Geekrotica series come from?
MA: haha about 6 years ago I was shooting with a model called Lexi and at the end of our shoot I was packing my car when she noticed I had a stormtrooper helmet in the boot (like you do). We both literally had the same idea and decided to try a few fun shots. Well that was it, I was hooked. It’s developed a lot since then but that was the catalyst. Photographers have used anonymity in their work since the dawn of photography, all I was doing was adding my own fascination with science fiction into the mix.
IM: Have you ever had any negative experiences during your photographic career?
MA: I may have been lucky with this one, but no, never had a negative experience. I have had shoots where I have been unhappy with the outcome, and on that reason alone I will never do wedding photography again. That was a one off and not a direction I ever want to take again. I take my hat off to any photographer who does weddings. I’m not saying I didn’t get some great shots, but I never want to walk that road again. Shooting erotic or facing smoke grenades and riot police is far more fun and much more satisfying.
IM: Is there anyone you have particularly enjoyed working with? And why
MA: I’m not sure there is one stand out model, all the models I’ve had the pleasure to work with have been amazing and we’ve produced some awesome work. I have shot with Deena several times, and the last shoot we tried something different which included part of myself being in the image. Hands, forearm, tattoos etc. A project about power play and how it only happens if you allow it, and some people enjoy it. This however did land me in hot water with my wife who is usually incredibly accepting on my photography.
IM: What do you look for in a potential new model?
MA: When I put out a casting call for a potential new model I first look at how they reply. If you can talk to someone freely online and they understand the nature of a particular shoot then it’s pretty guaranteed that you will get some great shots with them. I also look at their potential. They may only have a few shots in their portfolio, and some might not of shot the genre or style you are looking for, but if they are confident then who knows, they could be the next great superstar.
IM: Are you working on anything new at the moment?
MA: I am constantly working on my fashion label called Delinquent Apparel which keep me busy with fashion shoots. On top of that I am collating all my Geekrotica shots and putting them together into a book. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. The other project is that I will be shooting men in this style. A good friend of mine keeps asking me why I haven’t done this yet, and I have never had an answer. It will have a slightly different take on it, black and white, gritty. Imagine the Herb Ritts image of Fred with Tyres. Now add a Stormtrooper helmet.
IM: Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
MA: If you like photography then get shooting, have fun, go wild, and add me on instagram, seriously, I need the followers haha.
You can follow Marc on Instagram @marcayres_creative