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Nick McCann: Emerging Photographer Supernova

February 9, 2011

In a world where there is an overload of actors, writers, models, and photographers, it seems like nearly every one (especially in LA or NY) is an amateur artist. But it’s easy to decipher the talented from the wannabes, or the jobless guys who call themselves artists because they don’t have an official job. When you see a piece of work that arrests you and demands your attention for over 5 seconds (this generation has a very short attention span), you know that you have spotted some thing different, something new.

Nick Ray McCann is one of those artists who can truly be called an innovator. Among the millions of photographers, he is one who does not copy anyone’s style, does not claim to be the next Richard Avedon (though he may be), and most importantly, does not seek mere fame. He is a photographer with a style that can really be called his own, partly recognizable, partly surprising and unexpected.

I was lucky to meet Mr. McCann as a sophomore at Syracuse University. I remember the first day we met; I think that he was wearing a Nikon around his neck. From his unique clothing style to his enigmatic personality, I felt that this guy was different; he wasn’t like every other student at ‘Cuse. As I got to know him more, I became astonished by his creative capacity. It seemed that he was capable of really doing anything when it came to graphic design, photography, or editing. Sitting next to him in the Newhouse computer labs, I couldn’t help but sneak glances to his computer screen. “How did you make that background?”, “How did you get your letters to curve like that?”, “What font did you use for that?”, “How did you make that logo?”. I am sure that he got tired of my never-ending questions; but it really was impossible to look at his work and not be curious as to how he was able to do what he did.

Then I saw his photography, best described as raw, real, and immensely provocative. He captured student life at Syracuse from a underground point of view. He showed us what really went on at parties, what campus life was really like, and what it meant to be a college student. Above all, he expressed the euphoria and the highs and lows of his fellow peers. He ventured where few of us were ballsy enough to go.

When it comes to fashion, Nick interprets it his own way. As some one who is in ways, “anti-Fashion”, none of his work is trendy. What might be considered “weird” by some, is valued by Nick. He promotes individuals who challenge norms and strays away from what we see in Vogue.

Series of stills. Portraits on white background.

Fashion in action

It’s no surprise that McCann is being sought out by prominent publication. Being sent out on foreign photojournalism missions in countries like India and China has given McCann a new, multi-cultural perspective, which is evident in his work to date. What I love the most about this photographer is that he captures life in an up-close-and personal style. Most of the time, he composes stories that are daring. He ventures where most are afraid to go, or would never think to explore.

As an example, he visited a primitive community of individuals in the southern states, who resided in an uninhabited forest in order to separate themselves from modern cultures. Refusing to utilize any modern technology or mass produced goods, the group members only ate food that they found in their environment, including thrown-away food…yes they can be called trash-pickers. To capture this unorthodox way of life, McCann spent an entire week living in this community. He not only observed their way of life, but was gutsy enough to participate in it. Talk about photography in action. Oh and did I also mention that he spent several weeks in India, using a camera phone to capture his experience?

As a large fan of Nick’s work, I asked him to photograph a fashion shoot for me back in November. The vision was Autumn fashion; introducing new, bold colors to the traditional somber fall pallet. I sought to play with different textures, fabrics, and prints. Mainly, I wanted to show how a simple scarf can transform an entire look (very French). Geared with 9 scarves, two brave models, and one uber-talented photographer, my team ventured to Thorndon Park on the hill of Ostrom Ave. Here is the his best shot:

Hopefully, Mr. McCann will have time for more collaborations. Although knowing his busy schedule and non-stop photo assignments (I never know in what part of the world he is), it might be difficult to get a hold of this much sought-after photographer. Just last week he was in Berlin for Fashion Week as well as Paris and China…

Bien a vous!

More of Nick McCann’s work can be found on his website. Also, check out his blog, where you’ll find out what’s going on in this supernova’s world.

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