There’s a lot more to Milwaukee based photographer Michael Sutton than just his body conscious photographs of unbelievably good-looking people. As a sought after fashion photographer, he more than captures the fine line between classic and sexy. His portfolio of pictures speaks for themselves, but my interview gives us details on how he merges the art and commerce of a fashionable career.
Where are you from?
I was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1965 and lived there for 9 years. With coming from a divorced family, I lived with my mother and my three older brothers.
How long have you been in the Milwaukee area?
My mother decided to move to Milwaukee, hoping for new change, and better experiences. We grew up in the North side of Milwaukee, which was a drastic change from the lifestyle I was used to back home. Sandy white beaches and beautiful blue waters, turned into a lower-class lifestyle of living that I was forced to adapt to.
What type of schooling have you had?
I attended Washington High School, and graduated in 1985. I began college the next fall at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, originally focusing on Foundations of Art. I attended the first two semesters at MIAD, and quickly was offered a position with Elite Modeling Agency based out of Arizona. I dropped out of school, and took the position for the following six months. I realized then that I did not need a degree in Art or Photography, because I was already working in the industry that I wanted to be in.
How did you get into photography?
When I was 14, I was talking to a childhood friend of mine about her modeling portfolio, and expressed my desire to become a photographer. She told me that she didn’t think I was capable of doing so. Her telling me I couldn’t do it, actually made me more determined. Then I told my brother, and he believed in me. When my birthday came soon after, he surprised me with my first camera and a blank portfolio, and told me to follow my dreams and get to work. I have made photography my passion ever since.
Where has your career path taken you?
I started at Elite in Arizona, and soon the company had me working for the agency based out of Chicago, and soon after Miami. At 27, I moved to Miami and started working for other agencies such as Michele Pommier, Boss Models, Ford Models, Wilhelmina Models, Irene Marie, and many more. After my portfolio was well built up, I came back to Milwaukee and worked locally and out of Chicago. I began working with a company out of Cairo, Egypt, working on fashion photography for different local magazines. In 2008, I was published in Blue Magazine as one of the world’s best photographers for shooting the male form. That was one of my biggest accomplishments, as it put my name out there for bigger and better opportunities. Today my career has put me on a venture of exploring even more opportunities than I had imagined for myself, allowing me to get involved in so much more than just fashion photography.
What is the best thing about your profession?
Besides being able to do what I love, my next favorite thing about my work is being able to help other people achieve their goals. In a business that comes with no instructions or guidelines, I have had the opportunity to help models, stylists, designers, and agencies in reaching their goals. Helping those people get to where they are today, is why I keep doing what I’m doing; there is a sense of self-satisfaction that comes with that.
What is the worst thing?
I’d have to say the politics that come with the business of working in the art and fashion industry. The opinions and criticism of others can really be tough to overcome at times.
What is the difference between ‘art photography’ and photography in general?
To me, all photography is art, no matter how you look at it. Similar to beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder.
Will you tell us about your upcoming exhibit?
Now that I am back in Milwaukee, I have had the opportunity to show my work again at BYO Studio Gallery in Bay View, from April 12- May 13, with the artist’s reception on Saturday April 14. See byostudio.com under the upcoming exhibitions section for more details.
My first gallery showing of “Figure in Form” was in 2008, during New York City fashion week. The gallery was an extended showing of my spread in Blue Magazine, published worldwide earlier that year.The pieces I am displaying really concentrate on the sculpted male figure. Originally inspired from my rendition of the ancient Greek Gods, I captured the male form intending to represent the beauty and history in a more modern and what some may call an ‘erotic’ way.
What’s next for you?
The next project I will be working on will be shooting celebrity style weddings. I want to do this because of the way I see fashion, and doing more than just ‘capturing the moment.’ Because of my background as a Fashion Photographer, my ability to enhance these weddings into something so boldly beautiful, and rare in the industry is exciting and such a new challenge for me. So hopefully, you’ll be seeing that soon.
For more about Michael Sutton visit his website: http://www.mscophoto.com.
For all the images we couldn’t fit here go to the gallery at http://www.fashionfarmboy.com.