May 04, 2009

Altpick Spotlight Article

Imagery and creativity is a way of life for Hayley Murphy. Her love of the arts has led her to the field of photography and since exposed, she has not looked back. Twelve years of exercising unique interactive methods in all aspects of photography, has made Murphy more than a photographer, but a composer of aesthetic sorts.

Murphy currently works and lives in Los Angeles. The Chicago native takes experiences and surroundings into consideration when shooting. For this, she is known for her fun and witty style that shows–through in her work. Her ability to turn photographs into stories has captured the attention of a wide range of advertising agencies, internationally known magazines, and record labels.

What kind of photography are you known for?
I’m known specifically for creating “organized chaos” out of environmental portraiture and for my saturated color palette. My deepest passion is photographing artists in their environments. I am a big fan of being able to hang out with artists and learn about what they do. Being an artist myself, I feel a deep connection with many of them. For my audience, visually, I think you can tell a lot about a person by seeing the space in which they live and work. Artists need items to make art from and therefore, are big collectors. They usually have a lot of unique items on hand to be inspired by. The space in which they work is, a lot of times, visually chaotic because of that. When I photograph people in that kind of space, I like to show everything I can to tell the story, and still make the image compositionally strong.

So, your passion is photographing people. What other types of photography are you known for?
Recently, I’ve been having a splendid time photographing environments without people in them. This has led me pleasingly into the field of photographing architecture and architectural interiors. Because my interest in color had me dabbling in interior design at the beginning of my college career, I finally feel like my professional career and college career have come full circle. I find pleasure in critiquing and absorbing the feeling of spaces. Plus, my architecture clients tell me they feel like I’m a natural… and let’s face it, I like being good at what I do.

Where do you seek inspiration for your unique style?
Moving to California and setting up shop near the ocean has been most supplemental to my life and work. I am lucky enough to have some amazingly creative and technically skilled individuals as housemates and friends. The beautifully crafted space I’m blessed to spend time in, allows me to work on photographic studio imagery and still life’s, along with fine art mixed media projects, and gives so much, creatively. Even when I’m working in the office, I find inspiration in taking breaks from the computer to play piano. Right now, typing on the computer, I’m gazing outside at the roses. Overall, I find inspiration in the everyday… I keep my eyes and ears open to the environment, filled with music, conversations, the newspaper, paintings, the street, bike rides, food, and buildings. I want everything I do to have artistry involved in it, and at this point in time I’m in the right place, logistically and psychologically, in order to be able to do that.

As a photographer and an artist, what is an example of what it is like to work with someone of your level of creativity?
One of my favorite shoots was of a musician I photographed named Brenmar. After accepting the assignment to photograph him, the first thing I did was listen to his music and exercise a stream of consciousness writing. Pulling that piece of paper out of my archives to write about now, I recall a few words that I had written down that day that relate to this story: soundscape, metallic, sparks, atmosphere, and noise, futurism. While setting up the shoot with him via telephone, I did some research and found out he worked at his dad’s auto mechanics shop. I thought this was incredible because not only had I been wanting to shoot in auto mechanics shop, but my writing exercise had drawn out what I thought could easily tell the story of his music through imagery of him being in the auto shop environment. The day of the shoot came, and we met at the shop. I looked around, and found what I thought would be the best locations. Then, we excitedly decided to jump in his van, and go around the corner to his place to check out his wardrobe and see if he had any other prop’s we could use. This gave us a chance to get to know each other better. When I was at his house we grabbed a couple wooden roosters, an old cassette recorder, and a briefcase. I felt like these prop’s would not only tell his story, since they were his, but symbolically, they would tell my own personal story at the time too. We then went back to the shop and had fun trying out different locations, wardrobe, and more detailed concepts. The workers there also got involved by firing up the welding gun so we could have some sparks and fire in the background. On photo shoots, my subjects and their accompanying comrades almost always add to the creativity process by getting involved and each creating new experiences. Collaborating as a team is always more fun for me then going it alone.

As a seasoned visionary, how do you know you have gotten the right shot?
I feel it. And after I feel like I’ve gotten the shot, I shoot more. Once the subject, photography team and I have made it all the way through the process to get something that works, I feel it’s important to keep going… exploring, and pushing the limits. Also, once I feel like I’ve gotten the shot I was looking for, there are always more shots that will work better or differently for various other mediums, projects, or in another way for the same project. I like to go into a shoot with the vision of the final shot in my head. Then, I set up the light, environment, and subject the way that I see it. After that, I let go of the initial picture I saw in my head, and let the narrative evolve naturally. Most of the time, letting go of that, opens the door for something special that I initially didn’t expect or see but still ends up telling the story… and, for some reason, the story then seems to be told in a deeper, honest, and more meaningful way. That exploration is what being an artist is all about to me. It’s a bit absurd, but sometimes I feel like I use photo shoots like someone would use tarot cards. For my own, personal art shoots, a vision of an image usually pops into my head… and I have no idea what it’s about. Then I set it up and explore it. Sometimes after the shoot, I still don’t know. Then later, maybe even months later, I will go back to it and it will be so obvious to me how it related to what was going on in my life at the time.

What’s planned for Hayley Murphy within the next five years?
Since my move to California a year and a half ago, a lot of my time has been spent rebuilding my personal life and business. I’m ecstatic to be here and living where I do. Now that I’m settled, I hope to dabble in more fine art projects (photo, collage, painting, etc) in the new studios and have art shows. I also hope to continue a project I’ve been working on for the past 10 years photographing artists in their environments. In my commercial career, I hope to meet more like-minded people and continue to please my clients.