Conversations: Greg Garry

First, introduce our readers and us to your magazine and yourself.

I’m Greg Garry, and I’m a photo director for editorial and advertising shoots in New York City. Currently I am at OUT magazine, and have worked at Radar, Flaunt, Wallpaper, and many other titles.

In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?

It tells a compelling story, and you can’t stop looking at it. Classic images live in your imagination forever. That’s why we all keep referencing Man Ray, Cecil Beaton, Avedon, Eve Arnold, Eggleston, Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton. They are timeless.

Tell us a little bit about your job. What big of a part does
photography (e.g. planning shoots, selecting photography, briefing photographers) play in your job?

Planning is 90% of what I do. The actual shoot is the easy, fun part. The hard stuff happens before. I find photographers, come up with crazy concepts, find cool locations and props, dodge meddlesome publicists, stroke everyone’s egos, retouch, and then making sure the whole thing actually happens, and on budget.

Any special treatment to start an assignment?

Just reading the piece or connecting with the celeb or shoot subject and figuring out the perfect way to illustrate them. I love the thrill of the blank page and throwing out a stream of wild ideas and seeing what sticks, and how it morphs and turns into a real, compelling image.

Long before Pinterest I have been cataloging images that inspire me; classic painting, sculpture, poetry, vintage ads, old photo books, movie stills. I have endless ideas for shoots that I make mood boards for.
You never know what will spark off an idea.

What kind of photography do you want to see more?

Real moments captured. Anything that goes out on a limb and takes risks and isn’t desperately trying to be hip or cool. That’s the easiest way to fall into cliché. I want to be surprised.

Beyoncé by Thierry LeGoues

Beyoncé by Thierry LeGoues

What kind of photography do you want to see less?

Nudity for nudity’s sake. I’ve seen it all before, honey. Tits and ass doesn’t shock me-it all depends what you do with them!

I’m also sick of all the overly treated photos, tinted sepia and made to look like old 1970s polaroids. It’s like every fashion image is run through an Instagram filter. It’s boring. Learn to light your photos and stop relying on post effects. I want that eye magic to be natural and to be actually done in camera.

Working in and around photography, what steps do you take to publish / distribute / create the kind of images you want to see more?

I think I have a definite aesthetic, and I try to stay inspired and engaged in the culture. I will fight for a good idea or photo, even if it just ends up on my Instagram.

Olivier Rousteing by Santiago & Mauricio

Olivier Rousteing by Santiago & Mauricio

What is your opinion on Instagram? 

I love it. (I’m @greggarry there.) For me it is a visual diary of my absurd life, on-set bad behavior, funny street art, my animals. I try to make it funny and not too banal, and to keep the selfies to a minimum.

How has the web changed the way we look at photography?

Immediacy. We used to have to wait for film to develop. Now we have instant satisfaction. Photos go viral, whether they are news photos of atrocities, celeb penises, cute kittens or Miley Cyrus memes. And the web has democratized photography. It used to be very expensive to be a photographer. The digital age has created many tiny Terrys.

The one bad thing is it has made everyone look at their phones too much, and no one has an attention span anymore. Wait, what was the question?

Justice by Perou

Justice by Perou

Everything has been done before...people use to say that very do you find something new and different?

I hate when people say “there’s nothing new under the sun.” You can’t be so jaded in life. If you can’t think of anything, take on old idea and fuck with it, turn it on its head. There’s plenty of NEW out there, it just requires imagination. Use it or lose it.

What have you learned working as a photo editor? 

I have learned the art of collaboration and how to facilitate creativity, which is a very precious thing.

Any remarkable projects or artists to keep an eye on? 

My annual OUT100 portfolio is coming out in November, a humungous production that nearly kills me, but this year’s is going great. Stay tuned…