CA: What made you want to do photography?
MH: I remember this like it was yesterday honestly. Senior year in high school, me and my boy had a friend who was in the 11th grade. He was cool and he rolled with us. We always hung out and one day he brought a camera which was a DSLR (Nikon D60). It was my first experience with a DSLR. I only knew about point and shoot cameras. I was like that camera is crazy and asked to let me shoot with it. Of course, this is my first time (I’m not doing anything special) but the quality of the camera at the time wasn’t great (it was 2008). Looking back at it now, using the camera would make me say the quality isn’t that great but back then it was amazing. At that same day, I figured I needed one of these cameras. I asked him how much did it go for. He told me it went for $600 and I didn’t have a job at the time. It was going to be a while before I got one. As soon as I got a job that very summer, I said I am getting this camera. By mid August, I had the exact same camera my friend had.
CA: How do you incorporate photography to encompass how you see the world?
MH: With photography, there’s so many interpretations, it is an art. You can interpret it anyway you want. I pretty much associate that with the way you look at life. Sometimes I don’t even need to pull my camera out. I see something, it is a beautiful aesthetic right there. It’s amazing. You start off small and you have a very broad view of things when you do photography. You start taking pictures and after a while you start to observe other people’s pictures to notice how they see things differently. It is like wow, I need to take a step back and expand on this. You start noticing little details on everything. You can develop this habit behind the camera where it gets to a point where you see things without it. I might walk down a random street and see an aesthetic I need to go back and capture that. I might even take it with my phone. Nowadays, with all of these high quality phones sometimes I don’t even need my DSLR. That is why for me personally, I used to play people who take pictures with their phone. You think you are a photographer now (laughs). Honestly, you only need to have the vision. You don’t have to have a 10 thousand dollar camera to get the image across you know what I’m saying.
CA: Do you have any inspiration from the world of photography?
MH: No, not really. These things find their way to you. You don’t have to dig deep to find great artists. All you have to do is click around and find people by accident. Some of the people who have inspired me, I can’t even remember their names. I’ll just see a photo, I think I need to branch off of that. My peers definitely inspire me in a lot of ways. If I see Jack post a picture and I’ll be like damn. I didn’t think of that. I have to step it up.
CA: What do you do to improve on your craft? Techniques?
MH: It is a lot of technical aspects to it but it is not just the technical. Anybody can pick up a book and read about the functions on the camera. If they don’t have the vision, it will still come up lackluster. I don’t look back at my old work. There is still a lot my camera can do that I haven’t figured out yet. I’ll bounce off other people’s skills. If I see someone do something a certain way, I’ll ask them how they did it. I might look it up as well. I usually through that, I stumble upon new techniques by myself. It really all comes with experience, for me personal at least. I know for some people who shoot for a long time and their pictures look the same. I know for other people with the equipment I wish I had and not using it to it’s full potential. I mostly say, experience (both technically and visually) and be willing to step outside the box. It has to be a level up from what you have done previously.
CA: What is the perfect picture to you?
MH: It’s all subjective. I can take a picture today and it was the best picture I ever took. Next week, I might take a picture where I say the last picture was good but this one might be it. It is as you move on, you feel your stuff more. You can only get better. It is hard to create a standard for perfection when it comes to photography or any art. I can take a picture and feel it is perfect while someone else looks at it claiming it is only ‘alright’. From a personal perspective, there is no standard. You can take a better picture at any time. There is so many different subjects and aspects to make it perfect. It is completely subjective.
CA: How do you work with your clients for shoots and events?
MH: It all depends what the event or shoot is for. If it is a shoot, where someone wants to take these pictures because it is for a birthday or this is for a wedding. The mindset I’m going in with is, these are something that people want to be timeless (especially for a wedding). You want to capture the exact moments, you want to catch raw emotions, and you want to capture the rawest elements of that moment. I shot a wedding recently in Connecticut and it was a really small wedding. It was in a house and it was really beautiful. Everyone was very emotional and very proud. I had to make sure to catch these moments. You don’t want to be like sit here, pose for the picture. During the ceremony, you want to capture the exact moment. Like catching the moment he put the ring on her finger. For the people to look back at that moment and replay it fresh. My main thing is to help people retain their memories. They can stumble upon it and makes them flashback to that moment. They obviously like my vision because they hired me. I do my best work to make sure they can feel they did a good job hiring me.
CA: What helps you get in the mindset to shoot something?
MH: Sometimes it is random or someone will invite me out in an area. I will bring my camera just in case I see something. Most of the time, I have my camera. Even if I’m not shooting anything. Usually, I’m lugging around and not even using it for the day. I feel like I have to be always ready to shoot something. At any given moment, you can see something. I can look up and see the array of lights and I want to capture that. I looked up towards the elevators and I opened the face facing camera to take the picture. I tried to get a better phone with the bigger memory but it was sold out. I needed a new phone so I took this one (iPhone 6 16GB).
CA: How long have you been doing photography?
MH: For about 6 years
CA: Do you have a favorite shoot?
MH: I take a lot of sunset pictures. I really appreciate nature and sunsets on a deep level. Whenever I catch a sunset and I want to have a gallery of just sunset pictures. I probably have over a hundred pictures of sunset. Any moment I see a sunset and I can capture, I look back like damn. Sometimes I’ll remember exactly where I took and other times I take it in passing so I forget.
Anytime in nature gets me. I remember the time I went up to the mountains, I took like 500 pictures. Most of them look the same but this is like amazing. I feel like I get a lot of energy by like observing nature. Appreciating it. People will be like how did you get that picture. I would say just look like at the sky instead of your phone.
CA: What do you feel is the biggest asset that you have right now?
MH: My charisma and how comfortable I make people. A lot of people get comfortable around me. I seem approachable. While walking down the street, I’m usually the one people talk too. One time this lady was like: “if you have overdraft on your account and you deposit your check, do they take the money off your check”. I was like yea (laughs). She asked me to deposit the money in my account and cash it for her (laughs I say no that is mad sus). I always get into weird sketchy situations like that. If I meet people for the first time, it doesn’t take long for people to warm up to me. One of my favorite ways to shoot is to shoot candids of people which is easier when people are comfortable with you.
CA: And the biggest challenge you have as of right now?MH: Sometimes it is the slump you have to get over. You get that block and you can’t think of anything. The canvas is collecting dust and you don’t have the motivation to pick it up. Life comes at you fast and you can’t really do anything about it. Once you get into that stride and I have a week of taking really good pictures. You have to keep the ball rolling. It is hard to do it every single day.
CA: Which is better to you candids or poses within pictures?
MH: I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s better because some people are better at poses than candids. A lot of people aren’t due to not being in that mindset (and they aren’t models). I feel like naturally (candids) makes the image better. I personally prefer candids more.
CA: What is fun and rewarding for you in regards to photography?
MH: The emotion you invoke in the moment. I recently presented myself at an art gallery. It could be against homophobia, domestic violence, or whatever you want to speak on you can do it. I covered being black in America. Through my pieces, one girl came to me and she started crying from looking at my work. It was that intense. I appreciated that moment and I want you to feel what I felt in that moment. If I’m on the top of the mountain and I take a picture, I want the viewer to also desire to be there. They would go way I wish I was there.
CA: Where do you want to take your career in photography?
MH: It would be great if I can have it all, if I could get paid off of this. I don’t care to be famous, I really couldn’t deal with it. Even when I’m on twitter, I hate getting so many retweets from a funny tweet I write. I don’t like high volume attention just from certain people really. I want my work to be recognized, I want them to look at it and say that looks like something Marvin would shoot. I would like to make a career out of it, working with different genres and ethnicities.
CA: How do you want your work/portfolio to be remembered for?
MH: I want my work to stand for something genuine. That is mainly what I go after. People can see it and know it came from a genuine place, it is nothing something done in vain. They can take anything they want from it. If they can look at my work and know it came from a genuine place, I know I did my job.
CA: What is the best advice you can give someone with a strong desire to do photography?
MH: Just keep shooting. Even if you don’t have a high quality camera. Keep grinding till you can afford that camera. You cannot rely on the equipment 100%. You have to have appreciation and the vision. Appreciation of the aesthetic. You have to develop a style otherwise your work will look the same (plain). Keep your eyes open and be more observant. Appreciate the tiniest things.