Some creatives aren’t born into the art world, but if the talent lies within, it’s only so long before the passion speaks to you – defining your style, and more importantly, your purpose. So is the case with Michael Stuckless. A photographer who displays his creativity with elegance and grace, Michael is naturally capable of capturing the power and the fragility we all share.
We love that his photography is anything but common, an unexpected combination of Vogue and urban-inspired beauty. From poster worthy editorial shots to images sharing a message that empower communities around the world, his work speaks volumes yet isn’t afraid to just “be.”
The Michael Stuckless Interview
Hi Michael! Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Michael Stuckless. I was born and raised in Toronto. No one in my family is an artist so I didn’t have a lot of exposure to art growing up with the exception of pop culture. The images that you see are often created with a team of people and their support but is also often a result of hours of alone time. Trying, failing and then trying again.
What would be some of your creative inspirations?
People always ask me what inspires me and I can never place my finger over one piece of inspiration. Like many others, I find that most of my inspo is from things that are relative to where I am in my life at that given moment. Overall, the way things smell, the way they’re shaped or the way they move often inspire a short slow-motion film to play in my imagination. Then I try to create an image from that little reel. Other times, my inspiration is M.I.A and I find myself just going with it. Either way, it’s okay!
I notice that you’re able to capture very strong, raw emotion in your sessions. Do you have any special techniques to bring out that natural energy in clients?
The relationship between the subject and myself is often very peaceful. Because I am so careful with my composition, the rest falls into place naturally. I think because of that, most of the images I have shared with my subjects are full of stories that make the viewer feel something. Ultimately, I think it comes down to having a collaborative mentality.
What are your primary considerations when choosing your lighting?
To put it simply; colour, shape and texture often dictate the lighting requirements. Whether we follow these rules is up to us.
How do you find “the story” for product photography? Would you say that placement and colour are most important for product shoots?
When I am working on a product or still life campaign it can be very difficult for the viewer to relate in the same way they would if it were a portrait of a person. It is important for the products to be engaging. When we introduce new elements like colour or other shapes, it creates an environment where your product interacts and lives. Now we have the main character in our story amongst its supporting characters.
What do you prefer to shoot with, and what equipment do you find yourself using the most?
This answer varies and is dependent on what we’re shooting. I use Canon or Phase One for most shoots. Above all, the iPhone is number one in my book. It’s responsible for the live content on set and for all the moments where it didn’t seem necessary to carry a camera in first place. It pays to challenge yourself to go back to basics sometimes. Even if that means shooting on a disposable camera from the drug store.
Do you find it best to keep post-processing to a minimum? Why or why not?
Post processing and I have an “on again, off again” relationship. There are things that are an absolute must after capture so I would be lying if I said sometimes I don’t post process. Realistically though, I do a lot of post processing on my work and I think it’s just because I go for the commercial look. It comes down to the aesthetic. Sometimes the goal is to make it look extra crisp and surreal. Other times you want to be as “documentary” as possible. We get to choose that line (most of the time).
Is there any image of yours that you consider a personal favourite?
I did an editorial of a Mechanic who is a personal friend of mine but I was way out of my comfort zone. I still look at the portrait of him in his garage and I feel badass! Mostly because it isn’t like any of my other work.