The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Mich Cardin
Photographer: Mich Cardin
Location: NYC. I mostly write and shoot for publications and almost all are headquartered here, so it’s the best city for me. Even though I work remotely, I sometimes meet with editors and many assignment requests are in the city. It’s also an endless bank of inspiration and that's why so many creatives are here and never leave. I can hit the streets with my camera at any hour, day or night, and there will always be substance to shoot. I’ve also been traveling abroad for assignments in the past few years.
Style: I’m a writer and journalist first, so currently most of my shots are photojournalistic because I’m often shooting for a story I’ve reported on. I’ve been shooting for years, but I’ve only recently started to take it more seriously, so I’m still experimenting and learning. I’ll probably always lean toward candid, docu images of people in their natural element, but that preference could evolve. It already has.
Equipment: I currently shoot with a Fuji XT-1 and various lenses. I’m not as into the tech side of photography and can definitely improve, mostly because I was always reporting and writing instead of studying the basics. But sometimes I find that’s an advantage. I listen to some photographers get wrapped up in their equipment. It’s all they talk about and they have this ego or attitude about it and I’m like, "Dude, what are you even shooting? Are you even excited to be shooting this right now?" It’s about what drives you, I guess. For me, it will always be subject over gear. Drop me off in some remote village with a bunch of disposables and I won’t disappoint.
How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience.
I was a creative writing major, transitioned into journalism, and photography came soon after. I didn’t have formal training... I think I had one random class. I started with roommates in undergrad--we’d go to this bridge and stream out the car lights or take moody B&Ws of each other. I knew I was going to be a writer of some sort, but having been involved in dance and music, I was looking for something more visual to get wrapped up in too. Eventually, I was asked to take shots for my first reporter gigs, and it went on from there.
Tell us the story behind one of the most memorable photos you’ve shot.
These experiences are rare and memorable, so maybe the shots are better for it: a few trips to Havana, including spending time in the practice facilities of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Reporting on pre-Olympic evictions in Rio’s favelas. The insanity backstage at Fashion Week… and just the irony of everyday NYC.
“If you’re not at least a little bit uncomfortable, then you’re playing it too safe."
Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
Trusting your gut and not hesitating. You have about three seconds for some shots, so you have to get into the habit of just shooting--not overthinking it. But some of my better shots have been about turning into a wallflower; being patient and waiting it out. It all depends on what you’re shooting. But for some reported pieces, I often put my camera down and just hang out with people. They have to trust you and act as they normally would for the shots to be honest.
What is a constant source of inspiration for you as a photographer?
People--what they’re about, what their struggles are, what makes them beautiful or disturbing. Originally I got into journalism to create awareness of important issues, so I try to do that whenever possible. When I don’t have that type of assignment, I still want to create images of people in their raw form and environment. It could be as simple as two people interacting on the streets of NYC. Or it could be a deliberate set with a model in candid form. If you freeze frame real life, it’s all art.
Who has been a great influence or mentor to you and what did you learn from them that you still carry with you today?
I had a few professors who made a difference by telling me that I should be in this field and by teaching me about the hustle that it takes to make it. But I’ve also learned from a ton from strangers I’ve interviewed or spent time with over the years. We’re just ants, ya know? There’s so much out there to learn and grow from and if you’re paid to document it all… I can’t think of a better job.
Tell us three photography tips.
1. Shoot first, think later.
2. Stay curious, observant, and open. Make it a habit of trying to see the world through random peoples’ perspectives. And wander. If you’re not at least a little bit uncomfortable, then you’re playing it too safe.
3. Believe in your work even if nobody else does (they eventually will). Nobody is an expert. We’re all part of this process of creating and improving.
Finish the sentence...
If I weren’t afraid I would... take a year to go shoot and report on the poaching issues in Africa.
I wouldn't be where I am today if... I wasn’t stubborn about what I love to do.
I've been listening to... Syd, Phoenix, and Mobb Deep. RIP, Prodigy.
Kids these days... need to go outside more.
I look and feel my best when... I’m creating, improving, active/dancing.
When no one is looking I... plot/daydream and show more of a dark side.
Traveling... is the antidote to ignorance.
I respect... goals that are more than just self-rewarding; the hustle.