Cary Fagan

Tell us the story of how you got into photography.
I got into photography unintentionally through my dad. He also is a photographer and shot a lot of junior league sports like football. He shot every Saturday. At one point in late middle school, I got into trouble and my punishment was waking up really early to take pictures with my dad. It was ridiculously early. I never enjoyed photography and art at that time, so I was dragged along with my dad, helping him out with equipment. After that first morning, I started developing an interest and a curiosity. I would take his camera, sneak off with it, and play around with it in the house until I got my first camera.

And what camera was that?
The Nikon D300F.

Did you play other instruments or explore other arts before hand?
I was not creative at all during that time. The only thing I did and still do now is soccer. I didn’t have the patience for anything else.  Oh yeah, I sometimes play the saxophone.

You exclusively shoot film now. Did you every try digital or are have you always been loyal to film photography?
I’ve been shooting for nearly eight years, and for the first 3.5 years, I shot digital. Earlier on, I had shot weddings, prom, and different client photo shoots. There’s nothing wrong with digital. Eventually though, I found a new inspiration: Tamara Lichtenstein. She’s a fellow Houston photographer. I was curious how she was getting these shots of double exposure, so that’s when I started to try out film.

What was your first film camera?
I had the Pentax Super Program. The first shoot I did was at a treehouse by my house. I didn’t know what I was doing, but once I saw the first roll developed, I thought, “Damn, this is pretty tight.” I still have some of the images from that first shoot in my archives.

Do you have any formalized education in art or photography?
I was enrolled in art classes in middle and high school, but I didn’t come close to passing them. I didn’t have the patience. During college, I did go to an art institute, but after the first semester I realized that it was a scam and I could teach myself. So, you could say I’m self taught.

What resources did you rely on in order to self-teach photography?
Nothing, trial and error morphed me into a better photographer. With film, you have to keep practicing, there is no “right or wrong” unfortunately. Think of Christmas. Do you expect to receive all the gifts you ask for?

In terms of people keeping you inspired, who comes to mind?
Jackie Nickerson is amazing.  Her work is conceptual in fine art, something I want for my own. I feel like her and I clicked very well when we first met. Tyler Mitchell is also fantastic. I met him about two years ago, when he was just starting photography and trying to find his niche. Speaking to him then and seeing him now has really opened my eyes. Tyler just recently release a video entitled “Wish This Was Real.” There’s a specific part of that video (when the men are playing with toy cars) where i related the most to. Reason being, is because most people now and days don’t really understand, so you remain in this fantasy world; your imagination and experience with things more in depth with your mind – great video, i recommend it. Joshua Anderson is a genius. He’s young yet his ideas continue to wow me I see bright futures for both Tyler and Joshua, and hope the best for them to the greatest extent. I’ve also just recently discovered the incredible works of Michal Pudelka and Colin Dodgson. Beautiful, yet striking and thought provoking; very much in my style. Check them all out, please do not sleep!

I love that rather than listing a bunch of well-known photographers that people frequently list, you’ve named artists that have influenced you on a personal level. I’ll definitely be checking these artists out.
Each person I meet inspires me. Famous photographers are cool, but meeting people who are trying to make it and actually making it has a greater affect on me than anyone else. Those who strive, struggle – I’ve been in that boat; most artists have been in that boat.

That’s great to hear. Do you have any Instagram accounts you’d recommend everyone check out?
I have to say that @jimmymarble is magnificent. I also worked with the magnificent stylist (@cubtrina) in LA. If I become well off by my craft, I want her apart of any creative team.

I noticed that you’ve had to censor work some works on Instagram. What are your thoughts on Instagram’s nudity policy?
I hate that I have to put an emoji to censor out nipples. I think it’s better than just a light mark or a black mark. I don’t think it’ll ever change until a huge petition is signed.

Who would you like to have a discussion over coffee with?
Basquiat if he were alive. I would love to watch him work, maybe take a portrait. Another person I’d like to chat with is a famous photographer. My uncle saw my work two years ago and called me a “young Gordon Parks.” He’s an African American photographer who shot with black and white film, his work is phenomenal.

And who do you dream of photographing?
I want to photograph Pharrell Williams so badly because the colors in that shoot would be immaculate.  I’ve been wanting to shoot Lauryn Holmquist and Julia Kordova for a while. I also love the look of William de Courcy, we’ve spoke about working together someday.

Have you ever been in the situation where people will ask you to shoot for free?
I would just give them my camera. I just tweeted about that. It would offend me. I’m not a photographer who just appeared. I really worked hard, and failed and worked and failed to get to where I am today. I think I deserve to get paid for my work, artists deserve to eat, my work speaks for itself. Please don’t ask me to shoot for free.

If you could be based in any city, where would you move to?
Not America. Maybe France or London. I think that is more my niche. If it had to be in America, definitely LA. I think New York would drive me insane.

What does your travel bucket list look like?
I want to go to France, Berlin, Russia, Amsterdam London, Tokyo, South Africa, Egypt, Denmark, Sweden, and Outer Space on some random shit.

Have you ever considered alternative career paths?
If photography ceased to exist in my life I always have a passion for computers and technology, I’m currently in school for computer science and information systems. I designed my website, so knowing how to code helps a lot.

Who would you love to see perform live?
ODB, Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, CRS, Thom Yorke, Summercamp, Sun Ra himself, Astrud Gilberto, Bobby Caldwell, Chet Baker, Donald Glover, MF DOOM, Badu, Frank, James Pants, KK, P, Kool & The Gang, Sade, Soft Machine, Thundercat, Alice Coltrane, N.E.R.D.  – This list will never end, but for those of you who need new music in your life check these few artist out, they’ve been in my headphones recently.

And lastly, what is beauty to you?


For more of Cary’s work, check out his website.