When we here at Utopia first came across a photo from one of Joseph Maddons’ shoots, it instantly took us back to Uma Thermans’, 1994 Pulp Fiction cover. That same sense of raw femininity and rebellious sex appeal really shines through in Josephs work. We fell in love with the backdrops, the wardrobe, the models, the poses, the whole package and just had to learn a little more about the mind of the man behind the lens. In this interview we will pick the brain of a gnarly guy with an awesome vision and even better execution. So lets get straight into it.
My dad, while playing minor league baseball in California, purchased a Minolta SRT 201 35mm SLR that he couldn’t afford and actually got into deep shit from his parents for putting it on a credit card they had to pay off. Fast forward to me being a young kid I would see the camera sitting on its shelf and not even know what it was initially I was obsessed with it purely with how it looked. As I got braver and older I would take it off the shelf and mess with the dials and film advance lever and release the shutter.
I was enamoured by the sounds and mechanical aspects of the camera. Just holding it in my hands I knew from that moment that I wanted to be a photographer, I was lucky to figure out my passion at a very young age. Once I hit junior high and was able to take photos’, my purpose was further solidified. Every teacher has contributed to and had an immense impact on my life.
You really do a great job at capturing a sense of youthful freedom in your shoots, where do your concepts derive from?
I am surrounded by a lot of powerful women in my life who I draw a lot of inspiration from, and being a father to one very confident little girl, Coral Ray, in particular. It’s important to me to portray the women I work with in a bold and fearless manner. The concepts themselves really take shape in a very spontaneous and organic way. I do not do a lot of planning for each shoot it’s typically driving around with the model and finding a location that best suits or brings out the best in them and the clothing. Each model is very unique and I want them to be as much inspired by where we are as I am.
What influences have you taken to develop your iconic style?
I am very inspired by movies in particular spaghetti westerns and the composers who score them like Ennio Morricone and Hugo Montenegro. My home state of Arizona is also a particular point of pride and inspiration. I find the Sonoran Desert to be one of the most beautiful and under-appreciated landscapes in the United States. Some photographers that have inspired me especially when it comes to my flash use are Matt Gomes & Joe Aguirre. Also I am very influenced by some illustrators and painters like Gizem Vural, Michael Carson, Mikey Jackson, Monica @earth_to_monica, and many others. Also some of the greatest inspiration comes from each model I have ever worked with way too many to mention.
Do you have one camera which is your go-to for an average shoot?
My go to cameras are a Canon 5D MKIV with a Sigma 35mm ART and a Canon 600EXRT on the hot shoe. I also shoot a lot on a Polaroid Land Camera 180 with a Canon 600EXRT.
Is there a person, celebrity or not, who you would love to do a shoot with?
If we had a sneak peek into your iTunes library, what kind of music would we find?
I’ve had Devo on heavy rotation lately as well as some Buzzcocks. Typically I just throw Pandora on shuffle and go.
One of the most noticeable things about your work is the nostalgic wardrobe choices. How are the outfits and background ideas fleshed out?
Well my wife, Natalie, makes all the intimates under her label Solstice so thats a collaborative effort that draws a lot from the 70’s as well as some 90’s style high cuts. When it comes to the clothing I am fortunate to know a couple amazing vintage buyers like Cory from Luxie Vintage and Stevie from Galpalz. What I look for the most ultimately is pieces that are fun, colorful, and sometimes just downright fuck off in style. I don’t want the clothing or model to blend into the scene nor do I want to blur the scenery out. The styling and location should be fun, cohesive and complimentary with each other as well as flattering to the model.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Shoot photos every single day and take your camera with you everywhere you go. Try to come away from every day with at least one photo that you alone are proud of.
What can we expect from you in 2017?
I have no idea what to say on this, I never plan for the future I’m usually just winging it. If I get too consumed in whats next, my work tends to suffer. I’m just going to continue to shoot as much as I possibly can and having too much fun. I am so very fortunate that I get to do what I do for a living and that it also provides me the opportunity to be very involved in my children’s lives.
The dictionary defines ‘Utopia’ as an imaginary place or state in which everything is perfect. What is your own personal utopia?
Might be cliche but the life I live is as close to Utopia as I could imagine. I love my family, where we live, and what I do every day of my life.