When speaking of Michael’s work, the first word that springs to mind is obsession. One can be obsessed with the use of light or getting the colour red right in a print, but in his case it is a 360 degrees affair. In the moment a photograph is taken, another idea for another shot is already within his head. His compulsion to move very quickly onto the next thing might be due to what his teachers labelled “Attention Deficit Disorder” during his turbulent school days.
Indeed the recipe for one of his photographs is very simple: real life situations immersed in an absurd world of fiction. For this reason he chose to always work on location and never within the rigid confines of a studio, be it an industrial man-made landscape or a private home.
Early on in his career, whilst shooting a television journalist in London, he got sharply told off and reprimanded about how photographers must never take photographs from underneath. Michael loved her piece of advice as he later explained in his own words: “… to expose things that should not really be exposed, just like an impertinent and unruly child would do, that is what makes all the difference to me. To portrait women for who they really are today: strong, powerful and independent….”
As a matter of fact romanticism is totally absent in Michael’s work; he has stated many times not being interested in something that he regards as completely out dated and irrelevant to the contemporary world we live in. Instead he finds very fertile ground to develop the narrative of his images through newspapers and worldwide current affairs (although his background in painting and drawing is tangible throughout his entire body of work). As shown in Murder & Disposal 1 & 2 he often mixes cinema and newspaper chronicles to create provocative stories. Each image of the series, for example, could be easily found in the copy of a daily newspaper or equally be a still from a movie. Lastly, but not least, the thin line that separates beauty from evil, Eros from Thanatos, is the core and ultimately one of the main leitmotivs of his imagery. This can be seen in the dangerously erotic image Trousers & Gun shot in Italy 2015. As our society is once again building up more and more taboos, Michael feels that it is a perfect breeding ground to create photographs that provoke a reaction rather than tow the line of conformity.
Michael Humphrey is born in South Africa, January 1984.
His first encounter with photography happens in 1996 when he finds his fathers Pentax K1000. In 2004 moves to Sydney, Australia and a year later relocates to London, England. Works as photo and digital assistant to various portrait, fashion and beauty photographers. Assists director on commercial music videos. In 2008 Michael finishes assisting and dedicates time to developing his own style. Over the years, he learns advanced darkroom hand printing techniques from some old school masters who printed for Beaton, Bailey, Watson, Bourdin and Newton. By 2012 he contributes to various underground publications. He personally meets and photographs influential artists such as Denis Piel and Will McBride. His work is entirely shot on film, developed and hand printed by himself in his own darkroom.
More Info: http://michaelhhumphrey.com