This has been a while in coming - but it's like going full circle for me, back to my roots in photography with models. What does that mean? Technically it means film and cheap cameras. Concept-wise it means girls with attitude, strength and pride, abandoned buildings, grubby places, low light, bright light, grit, provocation, sexuality, sensuality... all things that have inspired me for a long time with the camera.
I've had a draft for a magazine sitting in the dark depths of my computer for about a year now and it seems like the right time to finish it, and even maybe release a few follow-up issues along similar lines. There are statements in these images, statements about censorship, freedom of expression and acknowledgement of raw human emotion.
I had a few very vocal critics a couple of years ago, especially to do with one particular series shot in 2014. I had major life-changes as a result of that series of shots. This was work that inspired me deeply, so it took precedence over other aspects of my life at the time. I ended up taking a new direction, with pride.
Some of the comments I received were things like, "Oh, that's just filth!". "Come on Mike, you can't be serious, you're a better photographer than that, why would you want to waste all your skill photographing smut like that?". Thing is I just couldn't see the images like that, no matter how hard I tried. They represented everything I had - they took all the skill I had to take them. They struck a chord in me, and after a lot of internal and external battles, I said fuck it this means too much to let it go.
I see beauty, deep and strong, in many of the images in this first edition of the magazine. I see pride and strength and above all, I see an ultimate feminine command and confidence in the subjects I photographed. I don't see that I've represented the subjects in a cheap way, in fact the opposite - these women are alive and full of what it means to be a woman.
Technically as I mentioned, it's all film and there is hardly any retouching, just major dust spots, but the rest is straight from the film which is straight out of the chemicals in my laundry sink!
So that's it. Stay tuned! Issue 1 of Vanilla Life will be out before you know it and in the meantime I'm going back to basics for the next few shoots - film cameras, no concrete plans, set designs or lighting, just raw and full of attitude. There will be two sets of images in the first issue, two shots from one of those sets can be seen below...