What is 'Photography' for you?
Photography to me is a kind of mixing of a person's personal likes and desires, with the purpose of capturing them via a camera in a way to excite others who view it. By that, for me as an artist, I use a camera to paint my photograph using light, pose, composition, and location to make a photograph that moves the viewer when they see the finished picture.
How do you face the creation process?
For me, every shoot is a new day, a clean slate, or a canvas that I must now fill with a pretty picture. I never go into a shoot thinking that I will use the light from the shoot I did last March. Alternatively, use the same wardrobe, location, etc. It must be new, both to me as a photographer, as well as to my crew, with whom I always work. Otherwise, we would all grow bored and complacent. My photographs would look mundane and plain and people would no longer talk about me! They would simply say, "Oh, what was that photographer's name that was really good, way back when? I just can't remember his name..." I would SO hate that! For me, I must try to be innovative, fresh, and try new ideas is how I address the creative process. By doing that, it opens your mind's eye and allows you to see the image before you even shoot it. That is what happens with me when I go to a new location with a new subject. Never think in the past, always think in the future.
How do you relate to the person that you are going to photograph?
Luckily, relating to my subject has always been an easy task for me. I am a very open and friendly person. People tend to notice that from the moment we meet. They also immediately see my enthusiasm and my excitement about working with them. That is so important, especially with models or celebrities. I think those people are the most insecure people on earth! Therefore, for them to feel like they mean something to you, that they move you, excite you, just means so much to their confidence! However, you cannot make them feel like you are too friendly, because now you have turned the tide in an entirely different direction. One that can cause a shoot to become an almost impossible task to complete should the comfort level suddenly turn sour.
Which are the most important difficulties to fulfil your ideas/dreams?
The most difficult part of fulfilling my ideas is sometimes just the logistics of pulling everything together! People's schedules are so busy and jammed, just trying to find the time to do a shoot is becoming particularly tough to overcome. That, along with locations becoming alarmingly expensive to rent, travel so difficult to perform, I think photographers today are faced with so many obstacles just to get to where they want to do a photo-shoot, let alone the act itself of the photography!
You portray women and describe their delicacy/purity, but also the sensuality and the passion of women. What does a woman nude represent for you?
All through my years as a Playboy photographer, I always maintained the attitude that I was doing pretty pictures of pretty women, scantily clad, which the woman felt comfortable with, and were paid a fee to do. That was how I always answered the question, "Do you feel you exploit women David?" I always began with a categorical 'no'.
To this day, I maintain that attitude. For me, the creation of a beautiful photograph of a woman nude is the end to a means. It does not necessarily need some 'editorial' direction (such as shooting for Playboy, or even Maxim, FHM, etc.) to be an exciting and wonderful photograph. Women are beautiful creatures. Why else has almost our entire artistic history been devoted to them? Men are okay, but simply too hard. Women are soft, sensual, and desirable. We as men want them as mates and friends. We want them for sex and for fun. So to take a woman and be able to show her to be sexy, sensual, and whatever other words you wish to apply here, in a way that is visually stunning, is what I think is the only necessary item in creating a photograph of her nude.
There need not be a strong reason for doing it other than doing a beautiful photograph. Her nudity adds to the personal nature of the photograph. It shows such a strong trust by the woman that she is willing to expose her most intimate part for you to put on film. To me, that is what makes the picture so sexy. Not so much the pose, though that adds to it immensely, but just the simple fact she posed nude, is sexy.
My passion for the female dates back to my youth. So, I have always had openness about being around women. I love them. I have been so wonderfully rewarded with all the images contained within my portfolio for that too.
How can you define 'modern womanliness'?
Women have come so far over the years. They have taken control of their lives and become much more independent, as well as set their own life's course. Women want to control their own destinies rather than allowing a man to control it for them. To me that is awesome.
Over my 23 years at Playboy, I met only a handful of women with that mindset. Yet, now, I see and meet them all the time. Women who know what they want and go after it. Yes, some have allowed it to take a bit of their femininity away, but those are the minority.
Women can, and are, independent, freethinking, and their own sole providers, while still maintaining their feminine charm and sexiness. I see it all the time. To me, these women are sometimes the sexiest! I love a woman who makes hard decisions and still looks amazing.
Film or digital photography? Black and white or colour?
For me, this whole choice to choose between film and digital is a marketing ploy. The manufacturers out there all have spent such huge dollars developing the digital industry; they simply cannot allow it to NOT succeed! So now, everything that is digital, is better. To me, digital is just another type of equipment to capture the photograph. Whereas in the past, do you want smooth grain color or grainy color, or B&W or color; now it's do you want one of those, or do you wish me to shoot this in the digital format?
It's all dependent on the budget, how the finished image is going to be used, the speed of turnaround, and a number of other issues that go into ownership rights, copyrights, etc. I personally can shoot film or digital, each as well as the other. The problem that has developed though, is that there are photographers, and there are many, who can only shoot digital. Some say that's not a big deal. Nevertheless, to me, it shows a lack of knowledge about the basics of photography that some digital shooters do not have in their arsenal of knowledge. Believe me, knowledge is still power. In addition, the photographer who has the capability to do both, well, is the photographer a big client would rather write a huge check for a critical shoot, with little time, and no re-shoots available.
Woman, space, light: how do you combine these elements? What do you try to mean?
Combining the elements of a woman, in an environment, and then the light, is largely based on what I am seeing in my mind at that moment. In addition, what I am seeing is based on that woman's look, her wardrobe, and the feel or style I am trying to achieve with the photograph. You must open your mind and allow the imagery in front of you to be your guide. Do not feel you must make it conform to a certain look or style.
I want the woman to feel and look sexy but I don't try to make it so by creating a contrived situation. Add to that I also want her beauty to stand out. That means an awareness of the light not only on her body, but on her face as well.
Why all your photos set inside?
I find this question most interesting as I would say probably half, if not more of my work is shot outdoors! Over the years, I have been called upon to shoot a great deal of catalog work. Most of that must be in controlled light, usually indoors, where there is no wind, or a setting sun losing light, bugs, etc. By the same token, I shoot a great deal of work on location in the outdoors. In fact, one of my favorite places to shoot is in the high desert just outside LA. It's truly a remarkable location, gorgeous and stark.
Which is the sense to work for Playboy for you? Who has been the best model?
My work for Playboy spanned some 23 years as I mentioned earlier. That was the most amazing part of my life. I mean, how could it not be? I was hired to be a staff photographer when I was in my late 20's, moved to Chicago, and then shot for probably the most famous men's magazine in the world. The most gorgeous models, the most creative people, incredible crews, gorgeous locations, and the freedom to photograph the women the way that I wished, surrounded me everywhere. (Well, within the look and style that is/was Playboy of the time of course)
This was the best training ground for learning the art of photographing women a photographer could ever have. My life was women! I went to work with the knowledge that today; I would be called upon to photograph another gorgeous woman, with nudity, for the pages of Playboy. Think about the inspiration that created within a young, aspiring photographer!
It was also a place of such an honoured past as well. My peers suddenly were men by the name of Pompeo Posar and Richard Fegley. These guys were giants among the photography of women at Playboy. Now they were my friends! My mentors even, to a certain degree. I feel that today I have a little bit of both of them found within my style of photography. Along with a few others out there that I so admire as well. Moreover, I am not speaking of copying, but of innate sensibilities they possessed, that made their style of photography so special. I just feel (okay, hope) that some of that brushed off on me.
They were two amazing men, gifted in the craft of photographing women, like few before them or since will ever be. I so respected them and admired what they gave to photography. As for the best model? How can you ask me such a question? They WERE ALL MY BEST MODELS! Seriously, I have never really had just one model that I felt was so much greater than all the others to a point of being 'my favorite'. I admit I have 'favorites', plural, as there are a number of women over the years that I feel possess every quality needed to light up a photograph with total magic. However, there are too many to name. In addition, if I were to name all but only a couple, those two would never know how much they meant to me. So I cannot name just one. All the models with whom I have worked have all been so very special to me.
Can you counsel us a work of yours to understand really David Mecey poetics?
Probably the best descriptor of my style of photographing women is a book I just finished (though to me it's still a work in progress) which I have titled, PASSION. It is a book shot all in B&W, with either models with whom I have worked, met along the way, or women who simply admire my photography and wished to be photographed by me. It shows women as I see them in my eyes for the camera. For this book, I wanted it to be just beautiful women in basic settings without a lot of additional 'stuff'. I shot it with minimal lighting equipment, if any at all other than the sun, hardly any reflectors, and with minimal clothing other than items that I feel make the photograph sensual and feminine. Most of which were shot in a style not too far removed of some of the masters, like Helmut Newton and George Hurrell.
I will include the link to the site where you can not only view the book, but order one if you wish. Thank you very much for the time you have given me in this interview. I look forward to seeing it in print.