Interview w/ DEMOND MEEK - PHOTOGRAPHER (musclebound)

I've been racking my brain about what to say about Demond's photography. It's rare you get to see such high level work with such creative control by the artist. I guess that's what happens when you have let your art take control of you. The man is a perfectionist at creating a moment. Then he freezes select pieces of time to share with the world. If I had to use a word to describe his work it would be musclebound. These images rip off the page and the detail bristles and rustles to life.

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Demond took some time out to share with us a little bit about his process and 'who' his work is. The work really speaks quite elegantly for itself. You can click the images to make them larger -- but they could be more grand.

How did you discover photography? I've always been a lover of photography. I first discovered photography as a child when I would flip through my Mother's magazines she had around the house. The first time I actually got my hands on a camera was while I was in college studying architecture. The school purchased a digital camera and I used it as much as possible. I would use the camera to take images of a site and digitally prepose my sketches or CAD renderings over the picture I took. The process of creating an image by combining different elements fascinated me. Architecture is a very slow process, and I fell in love with the instant results that digital photography provided. As a result, I soon found myself concentrating more on photography than design. I have to admit, it was a difficult time, I knew in my heart that my life-long dream of becoming an Architect was beginning to fade. I've been happily taking photos ever since. HA!

How is your ethnicity a source of inspiration or strength in your work?
Or is it just sort of a default setting that has little or no bearing.

My personal experiences, goals, and aspirations serve as a huge influence in my work. As a Black American, whether it's conscious or subconscious, I feel like my ethnicity drives me from both a visual and social standpoint. I (we all) have a story to tell; stories of struggles, resilience, and triumphs. However, at the end of the day, I simply enjoy making people of all backgrounds look as good, and as strong as possible.

I do feel a certain level of responsibility to photograph minorities in a good light or in nontraditional ways. In the past minorities in America weren't always portrayed or represented in the best light - or represented at all for that matter. There have been tremendous steps forward over the past 2 - 3 decades. I'm optimistic about the future. I think the world is on the cusp of a visual and social renaissance. I really want to be a contributor to that movement.

Tell us about the challenges of being a photographer. I am my biggest challenge.
Aside from that, the most challenging aspect of photography for me is marketing, marketing, and marketing. Getting my work noticed at agencies is a huge challenge personally at the moment. I have a distinct style of photography that caters to certain markets and certain brands. Without representation, figuring out the most effective way to get my work in front of art buyers and creatives that may dig my work is challenging.

What aspect of photography do you really love? The creative process.
From a style standpoint, in my opinion, nothing is better than a strong portrait of an individual - either in studio or on location. There's just something about a subject looking directly into the camera that gets me. One can gather a lot of information just by looking into someones eyes. I get lost in that sometimes. It amazes me how much information can be gathered in that fraction of a second. Staring at a photograph for a long time allows my mind wander. I don't think video allows the viewer that amount of time to think. Both stills and video have their strengths, that's why I believe they'll always coexist. Conceptual photography intrigues me as well. I really want to do more conceptual work - just creating kick-a$ stuff that comes from the heart and having it recognized on a commercial level.

I'm not a purist. Capturing the moment isn't as exciting to me as creating the moment. I think my strength is being able to visually tell a story with one or a series of images. Creating moments is what drives me.

What's your dream job/project? I have an athletic background. Sports have been a instrumental part of my life since I was 6 years old and therefore my dream job would definitely involve sports and major athletes in some way. High activity. Huge production. Lots of explosions, wind, and smoke machines - all of that. Something that is comprised of a combination of studio, location, CGI, and video work. Assisting in the creation of another Nike "Bo Knows" type of campaign would be a incredible.

Another dream would be to travel the globe and photograph all of the world's leaders. That would be pure awesomeness.

This may sound random, but getting a chance photograph The First Lady Michelle Obama would be great as well.

Can you discuss any specifics about the process of creating a few of the pieces you sent.The image of the athlete in the dilapidated church is an example of some of my composite creative work. That image is part of a passion project that I'm currently working on where I photograph rugged, unconventional environments and I place a subject in those spaces. In a way this image correlates with the earlier question about personal sources of inspiration and strength in my work. I intend to tell a story about a person that overcomes struggles by searching within himself to overcome those obstacles. No frills, no luxuries, and no distractions - he only surrounds himself with things that help him become better.

From a technical standpoint, it all started while out scouting a location for another shoot. St. Louis is a older city, so it can provide a photographer an abundance of locations like this. I have a library of backgrounds and objects that I use to make my composites. Sometimes the ideas come to me months after the background image is taken. I'll hear or see something that will inspire me then I'll go to the studio and begin putting the pieces together. I can't tell you how much I enjoy doing this.

Any advice for neophytes?I still consider myself an emerging photographer, but if I could offer any advice to anyone getting into the business I would say, follow your heart, shoot what you love, don't be afraid to ask for 50% upfront, don't give up, and most important - GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING. :)))

Thank you Demond!
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