Hailing from Portland Oregan, Cully Wright is a force to be reckoned with. His attention to detail, ridiculous determination to tell a good story, along with his natural talent of being able to get THAT shot, all makes up for one inspiring photographer that we want to get to know more about. The genius behind feature editorial Freedom Wasn't Good Enough we sat down with Cully to get to know a little more...
What are you influenced by?
A good story. I think when I am planning a shoot, no matter what the subject is, or who the client is, its really important to feel out the story. The shot we did for this issue, is one of my favorites Ive done, because of the story aspect. I love the way it plays out between photography and styling and locations and then how the model tells and re-interprets it all.
As a photographer, Im totally inspired by Bruce Weber. I love the stories he tells and what he can get out of his models.
A lot of people only know him from the A&F quarterlies, Which if you look back at, are so much more artistic than they received credit for. Definitely a stylized and idyllic view of college aged Americans in that time period. I love his fashion work for W Magazine. It feels real. It feels grand and romantic. Authenticity meets romance- That what I strive for.
Another huge inspiration and influence is my “right hand woman”, fashion stylist/editor Julia Platt-Hepworth. An aussie transplant. We work together as much as we can! She taught me what it really means to be cool and help me find a really raw edge to my work and add a bit of fun to my photoshoots. Before her, everything I shot was “Really Pretty” . She brought the sex and the fun and basically the party. I shudder to think what my work would look like without her in my life.
Q. Do you remember the first photo you ever took? What was it?
A. ha. I can do better than that, I found it in a box recently. I think it would be considered a “Selfie”. The funny thing is I actually do remember taking this.
Q. What has been your favorite photo, or series of photos you have ever taken?
Tough. I like to try to bring something new to each job I take on. I dont like to compare. Comparing my work is dangerous place to be in. Comparing it to my past work or others work, is natural, but i think it also tends to lead down an unhealthy road. Its more about acknowledging where I am now and where i've been and what else that is out there. Then doing things in a fresh new way. Not a “Better” way.
What stands out though, I once photographed a woman in the dominican republic- who could have been dead, could have been sleeping off a hard night, her story is unknown, but there is such a sadness in it- and there is beauty in that sadness
My favorite series Ive shot was for Carbon Copy Magazine. I was working one on one with a model who is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. He has a great look and we were shooting a project that involved both 35mm and video. We had a ton of cool clothes pulled, sort of a glittery glam rock 70s vibe meets “ Easy Rider” biker chic! Going into it he told me the project appealed to him because of his days “using”. However, when the camera was on him- he couldnt break free of this sort of control that made him a very safe commercial model. It was like he was being a model in character instead of just being. I knew unless he abandoned it- (the control) we weren't going to do any justice to the concept. We might get enough for the story, but it would be safe. I was directing him and shooting some video footage and asked him to make goofy faces- it took him forever but eventually he did and instantly he became 1000X more beautiful and who he really was as a person sorta shone through. I stopped the shoot and showed him the footage and we had this incredible 20 min talk about abuse and his past and eventually got to his association of control with sobriety. I asked him if he could let that control go for the day-(not sobriety) and he did and was a completely different model after that. We shot for 14 hours and didnt want the shoot to end. We just kept thinking of ideas and talking and it was just a really great day. Its a beautiful shoot and was released a couple months ago.
Q. Who would you love to photograph?
I really want to marry fashion and culture. So no one in particular comes to mind- but the idea of a really incredible model- submerged in say, an african village or on a southeast Asian with a ton of authentic local characters bringing the images to life! People are so beautiful. Photographing children playing always lights me up. I love traveling to different countries where children play in the streets and life seems so simple and they run after you and gather around you and there is so much energy. I think to get there though- you have to be present enough to venture out and really see what there is to see.
Travel is the ultimate goal. Shooting stories that are off the beaten path- infusing fashion stories that embody the culture and the people and the landscape of a place. Exposing people in the fashion industry to the authentic beauty of this world. Any size and shape and color and gender. Really focusing on something all encompassing and telling rad stories about this world that we get to occupy for a few years.
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