Interview: Monthly winner: Photographer David Mecey (Las Vegas)
Interviews / Stories
Tell us something about yourself
My name is David Mecey. After living in Los Angeles for well over 26 years, I have recently moved to Las Vegas where I am now based. I’ve been a photographer for some 40 years, with 23 of those working as a staff photographer for Playboy magazine in what was then their Chicago headquarters.
I am still an active professional shooter but I now concentrate on shooting beauty and sportswear fashion along with a few other various types of photography I find interesting, which includes cars and other fun things. I am a total gear-head (which means I love cars) so that’s an enormous part of my life along with my photography. That includes racing them and working professionally as a driver for various manufacturers.
How and when did you get into photography?
I was born in Texas USA and was into music and art throughout my formative years. In fact I thought I was to become a musician, but an accident just after college in the early 70s sent me into a totally different direction.
My doctor was an avid amateur photographer, after seeing some of my artwork he suggested I buy a camera rather than continuing to pursue my drawing. I thought that sounded reasonable, so I bought a Canon 35mm film camera and through my reading and experimentation, taught myself photography. I am completely self-taught.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography has been my life, so for me it’s my existence and reason for being I guess you could say. Without it I would not be who I am as an artist, or a man. So much of me is in my work and it’s been what has been the driving force for me to succeed throughout my career. I am a competitor and I try to always be the best that I can be in whatever I attempt to do.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
As for style, I tell people my photography is old school. That means creating photographs and capturing them in the camera using gorgeous lighting, poses and art direction first and foremost. As for a particular style, it’s beautiful light on the subject always most important, accurate color for the effect needed, while also creating a mood or place where the subject feels a part of the scene rather than simply an ornament in the scene. I’m told my models all have an inherent sexiness about them, which is flattering and something I’ve never attempted to create, simply capture.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from the women I photograph. Since my entire life has been basically devoted to photographing women mostly, they are my inspiration. I always attempt to make a woman as beautiful and enticing as humanly possible with my camera. So from the moment I meet a new face, it’s ‘game on’ for me to make her feel incredibly beautiful, so each model I meet is my inspiration.
Think you in advance what you want in the picture?
If I’m working for a client they determine what they would like me to create within a photograph. So my task is given to me to do that and I do the best of my ability to accomplish their goals they set for me. As for myself, yes, I will consider an image I’d like to create and go from there. From whether or not I want it on location or in the studio, natural light or strobe or mixed. From the wardrobe to makeup and hair I always try to consider all the elements when producing an image so as not to meet up with any hidden surprises.
Studio, on location or both?
I am comfortable shooting anywhere, anytime, rain or shine in any environment I’m called upon to shoot. It’s what I learned from working for Playboy for so many years as I was on the road for so many days out of the year, shooting in and out of various locations, to shooting covers and centerfolds inside the studio. So it made me capable of shooting under nearly any sort of circumstance or situation.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
I’m going with paid professional for this question because that’s exactly what I’ve been throughout my entire career.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
This question is so open-ended its crazy for me! Do you have a few days for me to answer this one? I’ve had so many memorable sessions I cannot even begin to list them all here. They come from shooting on the tops of snow-covered mountains in Alaska, to the sandy beaches of the Caribbean, to the castles of Europe, to countless studios, just so many sessions and all just so incredible. I’m afraid I cannot just give you one as it would be totally unfair to all the other ones I’ve had the pleasure of living.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
The biggest source of inspiration besides the women you ask? That would be to inspire others out there; to they themselves become and develop into great photographers to continue the tradition of being such a thing. For me there will be an eventual ending to what I’m doing. Hoping it’s many years from now, but it’s inevitable. But if I can inspire just a few out there to become incredible shooters, they too might take it upon themselves to someday inspire as well. To keep the tradition of incredible photography alive and move people with their images. That is my inspiration.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
My first film camera was a Canon, which I worked with for several years. But when I went to work for Playboy they had me switch to Nikon for most of my time there. I also shot with a Hasselblad and the now defunct, Bronica. When digital began to appear, I moved over to Canon with their first full frame chip and where I’ve been ever since. As for a favorite lens, it’s a toss up between my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 and my Sigma 24-105 f/4. Both are workhorse lenses for me.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
My advice is to be absolutely sure they want to make photography their way to make a living. The industry has changed enormously over the past few years and it’s probably the most difficult place anywhere to make a living today. Yes, lots of people are claiming to be photographers, but it’s mostly those who wish to have the title more than actually making a living. By treating it as a fun hobby rather than a serious business is fun and exciting I guess, but they are slowly bringing the market down the more they do things for little or no money.
What do you think of our new magazine?
After viewing your new magazine I’m very impressed. You’re reaching out to many incredibly impressive and talented photographers worldwide, so I am beyond honored and proud that you have included me among such talent for your publication. You have my enormous gratitude for the privilege.