As ridiculous as it might initially sound, taking photos of hot models is a tough business–it’s why everyone who moves to Hollywood with a camera doesn’t cut it as a successful photographer. Our friend Mick Motor, however, is not like most people. Born and raised in Detroit, Mick left Motown for the warm beaches of Hawaii and Los Angeles. Since then, he’s spent years defining himself as one of the industry’s leading photogs and was consequently rewarded with an accolade from the International Photography Awards this year.
We caught up with the man whose photo (above) made me laugh out loud for a few questions.
Your view of Los Angeles seems to involve a kind of modern kitsch, with outrageous people in normal circumstances. There’s nothing really posed about it, though.
Yeah, a lot of what I shoot is everyday occurrences. I mostly like to shoot stuff in L.A. using a compact camera. I’m a big believer in public transit and the Metro, and I take it everywhere. That’s one of my resources, or I might wake up one morning and do a hitchhike commute over Coldwater Canyon. Just catch a ride with someone, take photos, and watch what happens. That’s a good way to meet new people.
That might be why none of your pictures seem to be in any of the typical Los Angeles locations.
I’ve done pretty well by just going all over Hollywood. I used to really be into going to all the hot clubs. Now we pretty much shoot in the dingiest dive bars there. We’ll be on the West side and just go looking for those little holes in the walls. We’re on a 24-hour schedule, and we can find lots of inspiration on even a Monday night. Lately, it’s mostly been breaking down to Sundays through Wednesdays. Those are the days when you find all ages and types. You find yourself talking to an 82-year-old gentleman who’s sauced in brandy and talking about prostitutes he’s known.
Is that your kind of crowd?
Well, I’ve always been around subcultures. It’s really wonderful to find somebody who’s a natural at being glamorous, but I like taking everyday people and making them stunning. Sometimes, you end up with looks that are these strange combinations. You can’t just be putting a camera in someone’s face. You have to be social with them, and make them comfortable. That’s when you get the pose and the smile.
You look pretty young to be able to fit into the dive scene.
I’m in my mid-thirties, and just relocated in April to Los Angeles. I was in Hawaii for a long time before that. I’d been coming back and forth from Hawaii, and finally just had to make the leap into Los Angeles.
Was that a tough transition?
Most definitely. It took longer to find my kind of people out here in Los Angeles. It took a lot of socializing. It didn’t even happen as quickly as it might in New York or Miami. Hawaii has some things you can’t find out in Los Angeles, too. There’s a lot you can do with the natural light there. That’s the best tool that a photographer can have. And there are a lot of Hawaiian gals who specialize in edginess. But there’s a huge pool of talent here, and I’ve jumped right in.
Did it help that you’re not looking for the typical kinds of hot babes posing for hot shots? Or do models get suspicious that you’re not interested in the usual modern cheesecake shots?
That’s gotten interesting a few times. There’s a price to pay for going that route. I know that I haven’t done as much as I’d like to have already done out here, but it’s been worth it to find models who understand my approach. It can take a while for people to catch on if you’re doing your own thing, but it’s more rewarding in the long term. It’s best to focus on your vision. It better be, because that’s what I have to do.