Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in the small town of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, in the suburbs. I’m an only child and have 3 cats and a dog. I picked up my camera first around twelve when I started taking photos of blythe dolls and after that I moved into shooting my friends and then models. I’ve never really fit the normal mold and I love taking risks.
Describe your work in 3 words.
Minimal, personal, and relaxed.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I tend to be inspired by locations or the models themselves. The right subject is always so important for me in a photograph.
Do you think there is an emotion or aesthetic that runs through your work?
I like to think there’s an ethereal emotion in my work – a bit dreamlike. One of my favorite things to do is keep my work very minimal and focus the eye very heavily on a specific part of the image.
Why did you decide to start a magazine? What is the ethos behind it?
I started Youth & Freedom because I kept meeting so many young talented people in this industry - and in general - and was really inspired by them. I don’t like it when people take themselves too seriously, and the magazine allows me to put together a collection of work from artists who I truly respect. We like to keep it relaxed and allow the contributors to have as much creativity as they can, to showcase their vision.
When you create a photograph do you think of it as a story?
Almost always yes, but it can depend on the shoot. No matter what the photo is, it should speak to you in one way or another. There is always a mood that I’m aiming for people to see.
When did you first discover your passion for photography? Did you know then you wanted to be a photographer?
I first discovered how much I loved photography when I was in my pre-teens and taking snaps of blythe dolls. When I started shooting my friends, I looked at it as a hobby, and even when I started working with agency models it was just a hobby. Now I really love being a photographer and can’t picture myself doing anything else.
If you could collaborate with any artist, model, designer who would it be?
A model I dream of working with is Kate Moss. She is so inspirational and has such character in all of her images. Perfect subject to shoot.
What are the 3 things you can’t live without?
Burgers, house music and my camera (of course).
What do you do in your free time?
I’ll admit I spend way too much time browsing tumblr. Other than that, I love checking out new restaurants with friends or just hanging around.
What are you favorite places to hangout in New York?
I’m almost always somewhere in downtown Manhattan, lately it’s been the Lower East Side. I love “The Diner” on 9th and 14th.
What’s your favorite city?
New York so far. I haven’t traveled too much yet, but the atmosphere and people here are amazing. Cannot picture myself being anywhere else.
What do you love the most about photography and what do you find most difficult?
Other than taking the photos, I love meeting so many great new people all the time. There are so many different types of people I would never meet if we weren’t all working in the fashion industry. It can be tough when judged upon age, because sometimes someone will just assume I have no experience.
What advice would you give to someone who's thinking of taking up photography?
Stay true to yourself. If there is something you want to shoot, just do it and don’t worry about what people think or if there are boundaries. Never get too lost in commercialism and always produce work you are proud of.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of starting so young in the industry?
The advantages are that I think it allows me to have a cool fresh perspective on things and I also tend to be around the same age as my models so it makes it really easy to relate with them. It can be difficult to be young as well, though, because of many events and such, going on in places that restrict on age.
What in your opinion creates a successful photograph?
It’s really all in the eye of the beholder, but for me nailing the perfect mood is the most important. After that I can worry about little details.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Honestly, I have no idea. I’d love to be shooting for some big publications but right now I’m just enjoying the ride and everything I’ve been blessed with so far. Hoping it keeps up!
Who is your IDOL?
Camilla Akrans. An incredible photographer that always stays true to her aesthetic.
Interview by Natascha Chtena
Pictures by David Urbanke