There is a natural order to Drew Vickers imagery, whether viewed individually or in the multitudes at random (Vickers’ client list includes Prada, Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, i-D, M Le Monde). The American photographer’s work both appeases and comforts while maintaining that simplicity is actually not so simple. At a glance Vickers’ carefully selected colors, composition and spruceness give the impression that this is anywhere, but a known anywhere, like a newfound mutual memory. It’s that faculty for reaching a shared visual understanding of whatever-wherever that has positioned him as a highly regarded image maker in fashion. Models.com discussed process and sensibility with Vickers.
Images courtesy of Art Partner
Can you briefly tell some of your background: How did you get started? Was there a serendipitous meeting that led you to where you are now?
I moved to LA right after school with the idea of getting into film, but ended up quickly turning my focus to photography. After I moved there I emailed a photographer who I admired out of the blue to try and grab a coffee, and luckily they got back to me. Having not gone to photography school I didn’t know any successful photographers, so getting a chance to bounce questions off of one to see how they began was valuable. They encouraged me to move to NY asap and after that I haven’t really looked back.
Generally, what is the creative starting point for each of your shoots? Where do you look for inspiration?
I’m always day dreaming a bit about ideas, so as soon as an opportunity comes up I usually have something in the back of my mind. I’d say I use music as a way to stay inspired and excited more so than looking anywhere specific for inspiration.
What’s the most common thing you’re likely to be shouting on set?
Turn up the music!
In an image: Things that are important to you? Things that are not important to you?
I think a good picture should make you feel something and elicit some emotion. You might not be able to articulate or easily categorize how it makes you feel, but if it stirs something inside you then it’s usually a success. This sounds corny, but I think all the elements in an image are important in some way, whether it’s the tone of the colors or the composition. You’re making lots of decisions with every shot of what’s going to be in the image and they’re all important.
Are photographers obligated to reinvent their work as the industry, tastes and social issues change over time?
I think if you’re consciously trying to reinvent your work to stay relevant it’s not going to go very well. I think if you’re a creative person you would naturally want to grow and try things that push your work in different directions over time. In my opinion the people who have done well over a long period of time have a combination of skill and taste to create new work that is fresh while keeping a certain perspective intact.
What’s a lesson you continually need to tell yourself over?
If I’m shooting documentary stuff 90% of it is to just show up. There’s a million ways to get discouraged (not enough time, the weather is bad etc. etc.) but if I tune everything out and just tell myself to show up I’ll always be glad I did. You never know what picture you could have missed by sitting around coming up with excuses.
What are you doing as you write these answers?
I’m at a little darkroom I made in Brooklyn, drinking lots of coffee and listening to Slowdive!