Kevin Hayes interview.
Good things come to those who wait. After patiently waiting we where able to catch up with Photographer and Art Director Kevin Hayes who shared with us what he’s up to at the moment and why he is not exclusively that “nude photographer guy”………
You’re currently working with a band and have spent some time with them on the road; how did this come about?
How have you found your time working with them?
How do you pay the bills?
Yeah, I’m working as the art director for a band named ‘Dawes’. I met Taylor Goldsmith a few years back. We had a bunch of mutual friends and once we spoke we realized we had tons of music/books/ideas in common, so we became quick friends. About six months or so after we met he told me about this record he was about to work on with Jonny Corndawg, John McCauley of ‘Deer Tick’ and Matthew Vasquez of ‘Delta Spirit’ called ‘Middle Brother’ and that they were going to Nashville to record it. Also around that time I split with a girl I was with for quite a while which was really, REALLY hard for me and we were still kind of hanging out.. you know- getting drunk and boning here and there. So my head was all over the place, but onceTaylortold me about the record he nonchalantly said “you should come out with me and take some photos”. I wasn’t taking photography too seriously at the time and I didn’t really take him too seriously cause I didn’t know him too well then. I also remember that same dayTaylortelling me about Middle Brother asking my ex-girl if she wanted to hang out and her hesitating for a minute and saying “I can’t.. I’m busy” so obviously in my head that meant ‘I can’t hang out cause I’ve got an appointment to get gang banged by the fucking USC football team’, so I said ‘fuck it,Nashvilleit is!!’ and called up Taylor and said I’m in. After Nashville, once we got back to LA Taylor said “if you ever want to hop in the van and come on tour with us, we got a spot for you” and ever since then the Dawes boys and I have been family. Everything came about so seamlessly and it’s been so great working with them. I feel like the world just fell into my lap.
Did you ever aspire to make money as a photographer?
You spent some time at art school, how do you feel this has shaped your outlook and process/ What is your overall opinion of art school?
No, I never really thought in terms of money when it came to photography and that has to somewhat do with art school, but I think primarily it has to do with my mom spoiling me rotten as a kid. The money making state of mind started developing relatively late in my life. That’s also a big reason art school rubbed me the wrong way cause during orientation some teacher took the stage and said something to the effect of ‘If you follow the curriculum we’ve assembled for you, you’ll leave this school with the tools to succeed in your respective mediums’ and to me he said ‘If you give me money and follow what I’m saying, I’ll get you work and you’ll make money’ which bummed me the fuck out, but obviously getting work and being successful in those terms is amazing and an aspect of being an artist that is significant, I just didn’t want to hear that type of shit at the time. It’s like Michael Jordan said “First fall in love with the game then learn how to play it”, so I guess I wasn’t done falling in love before this school was about to start teaching me- which is FULLY my fault. I mean, I was about to pay them so I can resent them which is so fucking stupid and funny, but I was eighteen and dumb. At that age you’re never wrong and the world always is. So I quickly dropped out and gave up on photography cold turkey. As for any process art school hasn’t done anything for me. My outlook on art school is that it’s flawless to me on paper. The idea of being in an institute with a shit load of like-minded beings studying and questioning philosophies, movements, work, thinkers while parting and fucking.. That’s a dream!! I really hope it is that to people, but it was just far from that in my experience. More then anything I learned from the people. Just seeing what type of ”unique” kid enrolled in art school and for what reasons took my head off most. Like, I found some people who paid all this money for what seemed like just a piece of paper that justified everything they do after receiving it as Art and to me that shit is fucking bunk. So I’m on the fence about it for if school was the fairy tale that it is in my head (which I’m sure it is to some, hopefully most) I’d be everything I want in life, but on that same breath I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine and he said “If it were up to me, I’d burn every art school in the world” which made me laugh so clearly I agree to a certain extent.
As a photographer, how do you feel the Internet has affected your practice and the way you see photography today?
I’m super grateful for the Internet and what’s it’s done for me and my photographs in the sense that I’m talking to you guys and how everyone’s work is so easily accessible to anyone looking, but as for me taking photos or viewing photos it hasn’t changed anything. It hasn’t done anything for me really. The Internet has effected me in the sense that my subject matter is all over the place or at least I think so.. It’s just so easy to open a new window and be in a whole new world, so it’s not uncommon for me to be on Facebook looking at photos of some family then having another window of lets say some band then another of porn then another of some artist and by this point if I look back at my own work I feel like the juxtaposition of images has a lot to do with the existence of the Internet or I should say how I take advantage of the world wide web.
What would be your ideal setting for your photography?
My ideal setting for my work would be in front of anyone who’d like to look at my work. Obviously I’d love my photos to be on the walls of the Guggenheim or the Getty, but then again if I made some stickers and some bum caught a glance of it and appreciated it, I’d be just as stoked as if some unfathomably rich man could understand some sissy cryptic historical implication in my work. If it puts a smile on someone’s face or a boner in their pants or maybe makes them think for a second, I’m happy.
You are very prolific when it comes to taking photographs, what inspires you to pick up your camera? What advice could you give to aspiring photographers?
Thanks for the kind words. By this point I don’t really get inspired to pick up my camera for it’s pretty rare if you ever catch me without one around my neck. I think I tripped on some experiences and people that made me what to dive into simply being an artist and not looking back. It seems as though people inspire me to become more myself or just all around better, but I don’t really find myself saying ‘wow! This painting is so amazing.. I got to take some photos!!’. It’s more like, I just finished reading a book on Einstein and after he came up with the theory of general relativity he spent decades of his life trying to come up with his unified field theory which wasn’t too successful, but the fact that he never gave up on a dream with graceful zeal as well as with a fire that reminds me of a fucking young Mike Tyson, I think to myself ‘I have to do more’ or ‘that dude is the fucking truth!! What the fuck am I doing?!’ and I start reevaluating myself as an artist. What I’d tell a young photographer is that more then anything you have to believe in your self. I know it sounds cheesy and it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Emerson said “If I lose confidence in myself, I have the universe against me” and I’m with him. I’d also say once you get caught up in others opinions you’re FUCKED. Just assume everyone thinks you work is the worst and if you’re still down to show it, you’ve either got something or you’re ready. If you don’t have thick skin, showing your work is going to be hell, but if you’re confident in your work you’re all good.
What camera/cameras do you shoot with? Do you find specific camera types/models affect the way you work?
I shoot with a bunch of cameras and that’s pretty much cause I break lots of cameras (I’m not saying that with pride). Pretty much every time I break one camera I get another one and see what I can do, but as of today I’m shooting with a Polaroid camera from the 70′s as my bottom bitch, a Canon AE-1, an old Rolleiflex, disposable cameras and a bunch of point and shoots. The cameras them self don’t make me work any differently, but I feel like different cameras make people react differently. Like let’s say I’m taking photos of a nude model and I point a beautiful Rolleiflex at her she feels the sense of “art” or at least that what it seems in comparison to if I pick up a shitty disposable camera cause then it’s smutty.. It’s the same at venues or with bands or even just people, they react differently to different cameras. I don’t really give a fuck either way. I like it all.
Obviously you shoot a lot of nudes, some considerably more attractive than others! Whats your top tip for getting the ladies clothes off and have you ever had any awkward situations?!
Hahaha!!! I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a good photographer, but that would be the best tip. If you can take a good photo or I should say a pretty photo you’d be surprised how many babes are looking to take off their cloth in front of a camera. Especially if you’ve got an art show lined up or you’re going to have a photo in a group show and you meet someone at the show and your work looks good, they’ll come up to you or even something like this.. I’m doing this interview and there could be some girl who sees my work and might contact me. That’s how it’s been going for me, but it wasn’t that way at first by any means. At first I found a bunch of girls on this website called Model Mayhem, I was also searching for women on Myspace. Also as a tip, just throwing it out there- if you do decide to start taking nudes just letting you know from my experience you might become the “nude photographer guy” cause I know I sure as fuck am and that’s only kind of cool. Don’t get me wrong, I fucking love it! But being type caste is just shitty. I take photos of a lot more then women and there are people who don’t give a shit about some photos of “that band” I take photos of. Just saying.. As for awkward- man, one of the first woman I took photos of was someone who was a bit thicker and a bit older (that’s neither here nor there, but I wasn’t used to that yet) and after she got naked she started talking about how she was getting wet so I was like “oh cool..” I mean this was me shooting for the sake of art work, I wasn’t trying to get down with this woman, but then she started talking about her two kids and the fact that she now fully believes that her husband is gay, so in my head I was like “FUCK!!!! I’M FUCKING WITH A FAMILY HERE AND THIS GIRL’S MAN IS GOING TO KILL ME!! What is she doing here?! Why didn’t she tell me this before?! What the fucking am I doing?!?!?!?!” Then she started talking about how she was looking to start a website so she could make some money on the side and asked me if she bought a digital camera if I would be interested in boning her on the regular and taking photos of it. I haven’t told that story in a while and it’s still awkward to me. Needless to say- I never saw her again, but I really fucking love the photos I took of her.
Who, what and where do you find your inspiration?
That’s a pretty loaded question.. My first love is rap and I’m reminded of it everyday. With that being said- all of Death Row, Biggie, Wu-tang, Dj Quik, N.W.A., Ice cube.. anything off of Stax, anything off Motown, any record off Blue Note and the photography and design work of Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, Eggleston’s pretty much god, Einstein’s the man, same with Tyson, I take a lot from my folks, Marilyn Monroe, Jolee Blon, Jennymare Jemison, Alex Pardee, David Choe, Jon Brion is my favorite musician, Thelonious Monk, Ellington, friends with you, Norman Lear. Hank Williams, John Coltrane, Mark Rothko.. I’ll just keep on going. I’m inspired a lot which I feel very fortunate about. I don’t really hate on shit, it’s just a wast of time to me.
Who should we be looking out for in the future? (bands, artists etc)
Dawes for sure. Alex Pardee, he’s one of my favorite people in the world. Jolee Blon- I think she’s smart, interesting, fine etc. hopefully the Mini Mantions- I love them. Those are a few people I know for sure, but I never plan on anything shit just kind of happens and I jump at opportunities. I like to play it by ear.
Do you have any new projects or plans for the future?
I’m looking to start a portrait series which isn’t really my thing, but we’ll see what happens. I’ve got some babes lined up in New York that’s going to help me start it off, but besides that nothing much just more of what I do.
If you could mix both business and pleasure, what would be your ideal commission or commercial role as photographer?
That’s a good one. I’d have to be something like me making a homemade porno with someone like Jolee Blon or maybe Marina Abramovic where it’s lacking class, but still unbelievably gorgeous, shot on an old super 8 or so and I’ll be taking photos through out and once it’s over you see us smoking in bed and find out it’s the raddest cigarette commercial of all time or maybe it turns out to be some Guess jeans ad, but all you see are some jeans at the foot of the bed after the fact. Something funny like that.
For more of Kevin Hayes work check out Thedirtiestlittlerainbow