Marvin Castro

FAULT: Who is Marvin Castro?

Marvin Castro is the gray photo.  He is whimsical, imaginary, an artist, serious, silly, excited, a director, a model, a stylist, creative visionary, and simply a photographer.

FAULT: How did your career start?

My career started in high school by dedicating myself to building a foundation for photography basics.  I spent most of high school in the darkroom.  However, I would have to say that my career really started to develop when I moved to New York.  Growing up in Los Angeles was good for me, but I always knew my heart belonged to New York City.  I joke that I was born on the wrong coast.  I’m a fine art, fashion photographer and I knew that “The City” was the place for me to start working.  I went to  school in New Jersey, William Paterson University, and there I met some great professionals that had a handle on whats going on in the art scene and New York.  That school was a haven for me, because I was able to focus 100% on my work and ideas that I NEEDED to make real.  With the foundation I acquired in Los Angeles, I managed to become comfortable in a new unfamiliar setting.  I definitely learned a lot from my amazing professors there and they’ve given me the tools to become more successful.  One of my professors even recommended me for an internship in a photographer’s studio, Lois Greenfield.  She is a dance photographer, so it almost seemed like polar opposites, but if anything it was a fantastic way to start getting familiar with New York studio environment.  Ms. Greenfield was a fantastic photographer to work with and I managed to make quite the impact on the team, being the good assistant that I was, I contributed as many ideas as possible during shoots.  From there I knew I was already well on my way to better things.

FAULT: Tell us about your featured shoot, inspired by Alexander McQueen

The featured shoot was a dream come true really.  The series is called Dévoré la Haute Couture and I have to say it’s a long time coming.  I’ve always known that I admired fashion photography and portraits of people, but I never managed to successfully combine the two with the skills I had in my earlier years of photography.  I’ve been taking photos for about 6 years now and within the last year I created work that in the beginning seemed impossible.  Prior to my move to the east coast, I definitely had skill in producing some great fashion stuff, but didn’t feel like my work was consistent.  Within the first 2 months in the east, things began to be a lot clearer for me.  The Dévoré la Haute Couture series is still young, about 5 months old now.  I gained tremendous inspiration by Alexander McQueen and was completely saddened by his passing.  In the beginning of the year I was figuring out ideas for a new book and when I heard the news of McQueen’s death, I knew then that I wanted to make a tribute to him.  I felt it was appropriate, because the man had a great vision and definitely inspired me to be a bit bizarre and bold in my own work.  In my series, I wanted to focus on high fashion and how it becomes part of our soul.  I created and styled most of the outfits worn in the photos from found materials like fabrics and random pieces of clothes.  This created a dichotomy of what expensive, almost unattainable high fashion made from the things that are common and recycled.  “Devoured High Fashion” is the translation for the series: these people have been so devoured by their personal style that they literally become their clothes.  I wanted to focus on haute couture, because I am an admirer of drama, abnormality, and the minute, intimate details in how one interprets fashion.

FAULT: Who is your favourite photographer past and present?

It’s really hard to say who are my favourites, because there are so many photographers I look up to and respect.  A photographer from the past that I appreciate may seem a bit off the wall, considering my style of work, but I am incredibly fascinated by Dorothea Lange.  She was one of the first photographers I studied in high school and I love her work, because her portraiture is so everlasting and significant.  The images she shot during the Great Depression in America are so honest, doleful, and beautiful.  She documented American tragedies and was so intertwined with the the people she photographed.  Her subjects were comfortable around her and allowed her to capture their struggles.  Then I moved on to others like Annie Leibovitz and Steven Meisel.  Though if I had to pick one out from my present obsessions, I will say Steven Klein.  I enjoy that he has such a unique style that is always evident in his work.  He’s definitely a top fashion photographer and seems very dedicated to creating stories, ambiguity, and attitude.  I really love a lot of his video work too and that’s how I discovered him, through some of the video installations he’s done for Madonna.  His work has this consistency in color tones that are gloomy, stark, and yet vibrant at the same time.  Those are things I gravitate to a lot.

FAULT: What camera do you use?

I use a Nikon D80, my first digital SLR camera and a gift from my stepfather.  It’s a marvelous camera and it is on top of its game.  It may not be a high ranking medium format camera, but it works for me.  I’ve always been about working with what I have and it’s something that I do best.

FAULT: Who do you think is the most photogenic person?

My mother is the most photogenic person in my eyes.  I’ve grown up seeing several photos of my mother when she was in her 20s and most of them taken by my stepfather.  She always seemed so comfortable in front of the lens and was so natural in the way she carried herself.  She still is too.  Most of her photos were candids but were always shot with great composition that looked professional.  My favourite photo of her is this one where she’s in New York City and looking back at the camera in a jean jacket with voluminous brown curls and a smirk on her face.  I feel like looking at her photos has made me comfortable in front and behind the camera.  It’s definitely helped me to take risks and not be camera shy, whether I was shooting myself or a model.

FAULT: What are you currently working on?

At the moment I’m working on a handful of projects that I’m really excited about.  I’m still working on the Dévoré la Haute Couture series, because there are so many other elements of high fashion that I’ve yet to experiment with.  Then I have other projects that have stemmed from it, like video installations.  Marvelous is a video installation that has become a major project for me and I have been working on it since the beginning of the year.  It incorporates similar ideas from the haute couture series: use of random fabrics, movement/dance, and music.  Another and very important component to this project is projection.  I am using random images I have taken and projected them onto the sets and models as my main light source.  The idea is to create an abstract image that adds to the couture, story, and environment.  Since there’s the use of models, movement and dance, I end up shooting about 500 frames of one outfit, projected image, and set up.  Any three outfits is the average for one shoot and everything else changes when the clothes change.  Then the music portion of the project is based on things that I’ve listened to during the process of these shoots and pretty much influences the overall presentation.  I was so enthralled by Florence + the Machine, Lady GaGa, The Scanners, and composer Abel Korzeniowski.  Then I tell a photo story with the music in a 10-15 minute film.  Another project that I’m also working on is based light source and reflections.  I’m photographing models in almost candid settings, positioning them behind some sort of glass and allowing a variation of lights to be reflected.  It’s a more simplistic project where I just spend down time with my models walking the streets of a city.  Those are my primary projects I’m working on and any others I come up with along the way.  I love to stay busy and I don’t think my passion for producing great photos will allow me to ever take a break.

FAULT: What is your FAULT?

Creating photos of fine art fashion that showcase limitless passion and creative imagination is my FAULT.  I’ll always take that risk of being my FAULT.