Born in Ireland, photographer Cormac Hanley grew up with an artistic mother who kept a paint brush permanently in his hand. Later years led him to develop a strong background in creative advertising, but Cormac always turned to photography as his ultimate form of expression. We at CH managed to catch up with the France-based lensman on his recent visit to â€œbelleâ€ Montreal, asking him a few questions about his techniques, models and influences.
What brings you to Montreal?
It's probably taboo to come right out with it, but work was slow! Maybe in the current climate I can get away with saying that.
I think its important to remember all the times you've run for 22 hours straight to deliver a perfect job, dreaming of things being a little less manic. So, in quiet times, you've got to use that freedom to feed your creative self. It's the very time to turn up the heat!
How do you choose subjects and what's it like working with new people constantly?
For this trip, I researched model networking sites online and sites like Craigslist. I'm not always looking for an "agency model" look, so casting this way keeps it interesting—from professional models to a nano technology student to a body building musician who'd just cut his first album. All wonderful, interesting people who worked hard with me to create really strong, new work.
Do you have a vision in mind before meeting the model?
Continue reading and see more images after the jump.
I keep a notebook full of concepts and sketches that I constantly add to and it goes everywhere with me.
Once I've seen pictures of a model I get a feeling for the type of scenario I think will work, so I'll either cast them into one of my concepts or "script" a new one. However, getting to know each model, I allow the freedom to adapt the planned direction of the shoot, to make a better fit for their presence as individuals.
If I have a trademark, I think its that there is always an element of humor somewhere in the work—even if it's dark or hidden in the detail, it's important to keep a little lightness in the heart.
What do you have planned next?
Keeping busy and meeting new agencies is pretty high on the agenda!
I am going to pursue editorial magazine work, strong portraits of actors, athletes …real characters.
Travel-wise, there's so much that interests me, from the Salton Sea to garden allotments in Berlin. Often when I know someone living in a particular place, it starts me thinking of the possibilities.
How do people see and buy your work? I have a website, Monomondo, which I like to keep pretty simple.
I have a great rep, Barbara Soulieé of Taffetas in Paris.
Also, I've recently signed with an amazing new agent in Germany, Gunda Patzke. In fact, I like the way that Gunda presents my work so much that it's always her site that I visit to view my own work. For art print sales there are a limited number of pieces available through Biarritz's Bear and Breakfast gallery, which Veronique Peres Domergue runs.
Who are your favorite photographers?
Atmosphere is very important in my work. A sense of stillness and silence, but also some wonderment at what has just occurred and what's coming next. So, I'm drawn to cinema for feeling and depth, the way directors like Michael Mann can imbue a sense of the spatial, the air temperature and even humidity into a scene, something you feel through the hairs on the back of your neck.
I'm also in awe of directors like Alejandro González Iñárritu. His "21 Grams," the entire film, is a photographic masterpiece. You could close your eyes, hit pause at any point, print it and hang it on a gallery wall—incredible.
In terms of photographers, I devour all things photographic so the list is endless, including greats like Penn, Avedon and Watson. I also admire a very broad range of others, like Kurt Iswarienko, Jeff Bark, Martin Schoeller, Gregory Crewdson and Stephen Shore. It doesn't have to be my style, inspiration comes from all quarters.