Anne Darling Photography

An Interview with Fashion Photographer
Michael Creagh

Michael Creagh is a New York based fashion photographer with an impressive list of clients which includes McCann Erickson, Microsoft, the Fashion Institute of Technology, and MTV. He is one of the top fashion photographers of today, and won the 4th Annual Black & White Spider Awards Nominee in the category of Fashion in January 2009. Michael graciously agreed to an interview with me for this website which you can read below.

Me: I am intrigued because you have an MA in International Relations and a BA in Sociology & Philosophy... could you tell me and my readers how you first got into photography?
Michael Creagh: There are points in your life when you make big decisions. I had one of those days in Chicago shortly before I graduated from Northwestern University. I was at a big interview with a major consulting company. As I sat there, I thought I don't want this job. Matter of fact, I didn't want a 9 to 5 job. Instead I moved to the South of France and then Italy. I picked up photography while walking the streets observing the world. It was a really amazing time, but I never thought it would last. I went to England to get my Masters in International Relations because I didn't really believe I could become a photographer. But during that period, my passion only grew until I finally decided upon the next adventure: New York fashion.

michael creagh fashion photography

It might look like a waste... all the studying. But it is an integral part of who I am and how I see the world. That is a lot more important to my photographic style than if I know my f-stops (I do!!!). My best advice for new photographers is to explore what they feel about subjects: their tastes and biases. What should a woman look like and be like? My experiences and worldview shape these questions. Plus, Mario Testino also studied International Relations, so at least I am in good company.

Me: Could you also tell us more about your background, i.e. childhood influences, first camera and so on?
Michael Creagh: My grandfather was a keen amateur. He made beautiful pictures. Unfortunately, I squandered the opportunity to learn from him and took up photography after he passed away. I don't even remember my first camera. I was 5 or 6. I do have the pictures and they are pretty cool. There is something raw about a child's view.

But my real foray into photography began in France in my early twenties. That is when I took control of the imagery in my life, instead of just trying to capture what I saw. That camera was an old Kodak Retina Reflex with a 50mm Schneider lens. It was my grandfather's.

Me: Which major photographers have been the biggest influences on your work? Who do you love the most?
Michael Creagh: I am a big fan of photography and love so many people's work. I am not sure about who influences me the most though. But I adore Paolo Roversi, Sabastiao Salgado, Peter Lindbergh, and Horst P. Horst.

Me: How has winning the Black & White Spider Award affected your work and your life?
Michael Creagh: I have been lucky enough to be recognized by many international juries and press; including the Black and White Spider Awards in London 2008 and 2009, the IPA International Photo Awards in NYC 2008 and 2009, and PX3 Prix de la Photographie Awards in Paris 2008. Most recently, my book "Editorial Stories" won 2nd place in the Photography.Book.Now Competition. Last May I had a huge 10 page cover story and interview in Digital PhotoPro Magazine, and very recently I had magazine stories about my career in Latin America, Eastern Europe and one coming out in China.

I think it all helps. It connects people to my work. But it is very hard to point at any one of those things or the newest photo series or anything, and say, "That is it. That is what did it." Things feel much more incremental.

Me: Where do you see your work going from here...? Will you continue to work in fashion?
Michael Creagh: Absolutely. It might sound weird, but I feel like my career is just beginning. Every month and every year brings new possibilities that I have not yet fully explored. I have a lot of goals.

Me: What advice would you give to young photographers who want to break into the world of fashion photography?
Michael Creagh: Start talking to people. The most overlooked photographic skill is social relations. It is difficult to take your pretty friend to the park and emulate what Steven Klein or Michael Thompson does. You need a team, a production, a budget.

The first couple of years of my photography I worked really hard on getting softer and softer light to make normal people look like models. The last several years, I have been working on finding better and better models that can take any light. Light that fits my mood. Let me give you an example. You set up your lighting, your backdrop and you photograph a friend in black and white, and you show people and they say, "Wow, I like your photography. It's great." Now, you don't change your lighting for better or worse, but you put in a gorgeous model in the same scene and people are like, "Wow, you are amazing at lighting. You really understand beauty."

michael creagh high fashion photographer

You can see more great photographs at Michael's website or follow this link if you would like to read his blog.

Michael Creagh was recently named as a Hasselblad Masters Finalist in the Fashion & Beauty category. If you would like to vote for him follow the link to his blog and you will find all the details there.

Top of Page

This site is under construction! Major changes are taking place - apologies for any inconsistencies which I hope will all be sorted very soon. Thanks for your patience.

Improve Your Composition

cover of the art of photographic composition ebook

Be More Creative

cover of the creative guide to photography ebook