Featured Photographer - Max Hsu

 Photograph by Max Hsu

Photograph by Max Hsu

What photographers have been the biggest influence on you?

I actually got into photography as a way to practice lighting for cinema so my biggest influences are probably Spielberg, Fincher, Nolan and Pfister.

 Photograph by Max Hsu

Photograph by Max Hsu

What magazines and websites do you look at for inspiration?

When I get models for fashion stuff, it’s fantastic, but a lot of my work is music related and the artists don’t come into it with a repertoire of poses so I’m trying to learn from Sue Bryce and Peter Hurley.  

How have you handled the collaboration process when working with a fashion designer?

With every photo shoot I go through great lengths to understand what the client wants, to see through their eyes, to become them, rather than imposing my style on them.  With Andrew that was relatively easy since we have worked together on many music related shoots.  He’s not only a designer, he’s the best wardrobe stylist in town in my opinion.  

What three words would you use to describe your work?

Learning, learning and learning.

How did you become a photographer?

When my band was signed, the photographer chosen for our photo shoot was a big deal who had shot a lot of celebrities.  He was talented, but I felt like the vision I had for the band wasn’t being communicated.  When I expressed that, the photographer said to me; “why don’t you just stand there and look pretty and let us take the pictures”.   I resolved to learn to master every aspect of the creative process so I wouldn’t be in that situation again.  

What advice would you give young people who want to be a photographer?

I’m not sure young people need advice.  The point of being young is to break rules you don’t even know are there.  You do the impossible because no one tells you that it’s impossible.  That’s something that needs to be nurtured and protected before the pragmatism of client work beats the dreams right out of people.  

 Photograph by Max Hsu

Photograph by Max Hsu

What was the most fun you’ve had on a shoot?

I don’t know if I have fun on shoots, I’m usually very very focused.  I do enjoy working with Andrew though because we get to color outside the lines.

What are the limitations/advantages of being a photographer in Nashville?

The scene is surprisingly uncompetitive.  I’ve met lots of great filmmakers and photographers who have been very generous with their time and advice.  David Molnar and Jeremy Cowart both are very generous with their teaching.  
The limitations are that while there’s lots of work here, the majority of it is straight up the middle and no one is going to pay you to do something with exploding cars and ninjas.  I have to fund that stuff myself.

Which part of the photography process do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy conceptualizing unique shoots.  I try not to repeat myself.  It’s always a challenge to get it out of your brain and onto the screen, but when it works, it’s pretty awesome.

What is your favorite subject?

I shoot people.  I believe that there is something beautiful about every person and my job is to find it through the lens.

See Max's photographs and his collaboration with Any Old Iron at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.