Fashionable Artist Michael Creagh Thinks Outside the Cubicle

Michael Creagh (OMP Member #1912) has worked as a professional photographer for over a decade. He started his creative career and never looked back. “It really started when I made a decision that I did not want to work in a cubicle and have a 9-to-5 existence. Instead, I lived a vagabond’s life in France and Italy, just walking around taking pictures. I photographed everything, but saw myself gravitate towards beauty and fashion. Walking the streets of Southern France and Northern Italy with inspiration everywhere, I would pick up a copy of Italian Vogue and try and mimic the images with pretty friends. When I got to London, I was experienced enough to practice ideas on strangers. But I knew where I really wanted to work, and that was New York.”

He specializes in fashion photography, although he can be persuaded to shoot other styles as well. “I just shoot fashion… and the occasional photo of my family! From time to time a friend — or money — will persuade me to shoot something else. But there is enough diversity in fashion to keep me busy. Black and white, color, different types of light; all that is secondary to the concept and vision.”

Michael has even been known to shoot a few celebrities from time to time. “My close friend, Emily Bergl, was featured on ‘Desperate Housewives,’ and I have photographed her a half-dozen times for several publications and for fun. I have also photographed supermodel Jessica White (Victoria’s Secret, Sports Illustrated), ‘America’s Next Top Model’ winners Whitney Thompson and Naima Mora, actor Anthony Michael Hall (‘Dark Knight,’ ‘Dead Zone,’ ‘Breakfast Club’), designer legend Tommy Hilfiger, emerging superstar designer Prabal Gurung, singer/musician Moby, 3 Tenors’ Jose Carreras, and many others. The key to working with celebrities is more about social relations than photo techniques.”

He has relied on over the years to find new talent and stay in touch with colleagues. “OMP was there in the beginning. It has always been part of my career and was the first fashion or photography site I joined. I must have worked with over 100 models from, and it helped build my first professional portfolio. My participation with the site increased several years ago when OMP asked me to shoot at their networking event, ‘Model Fusion.’ I met loads of great people, including one of my closest photographer friends, Eric Hason (OMP Member #7057). I was also a featured member a few years back, and the 1.4 million hits didn’t hurt. OMP consistently comes in the top 10 Google hits for clients trying to find me.”

Michael loves working with his H3D Hasselblad 39 mega pixels camera. “It is truly beautiful. But I often shoot with the versatile Canon 5D Mark II with an 85mm 1.2 lens. I use all kinds of lighting and light modifiers, and having a pro studio just off Times Square doesn’t hurt. But remember, it is not great equipment that makes a great photo, it is a way of seeing the world and a little know-how on how to capture it.”

He offers several suggestions for models to remember during a shoot. “First, it is all about your expression. Forget all the tricks of the photographer or how good the makeup is. If you get the expression right, then the photo has a chance to be great. If the eyes, mouth, and just the overall feel isn’t right, then all the bells and whistles a great photo team can muster won’t mean a thing. Second, trust in the talent around you. Too many models spend too much time looking in the mirror. A good creative team is your mirror; from makeup and styling to the directions of the photographer. And third, be professional. I work with lots of successful, money-making models. Now, I read the same stories in the media that everyone else does. But in my experience, the more successful they are, the better the attitude and work ethic. In this business, it is often one strike and you lose all those connections.”

Michael also has some insightful advice for aspiring photographers. “Explore your own feelings on the most basic subjects: how you see men, women, light, energy, interaction, the world. Your tastes and interests, even your biases, will lead you to your style. So ask the question, ‘What should a woman look like?’ The answer is more important than what camera you choose.”

See more of Michael’s work on his OMP Portfolio

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