How did you get your big break as a photographer?
Geordie Wood: Two years into my documentary photography degree my work was starting to look really generic. I got really frustrated by and eventually threw out all the work I had done and I tried to retrain myself to shoot a different way going back to shooting film with a 35mm camera. I started to develop my work in my own voice and I turned my portfolio around completely. When I was 20, I ended up getting my pictures in front of a well known creative director in New York City who was working at The Fader. He gave me my first assignment for the magazine: shooting reggae artist Collie Buddz in Queens. The Fader put me in contact with News Week and a few other publications like that, who gave me a shot when I was very young. Since then I’ve just been trying to get one gig after the other to get more involved with the community here.
A lot of your photographs depict Hip Hop artists. Did that happen through publications like The Fader pushing you in that direction or was it your own choice?
Geordie Wood: It’s two folds. I’m a huge rap, jazz and reggae fan but shooting musicians is very fun as they are often people with style and an unique view on the world. Music journalism is one of the few places in the editorial world where you can still be creative and speak your own voice. I always wanted to be hired for my style and my aesthetic and not just be a machine that clicks a shutter. Shooting musicians allows more creative freedom.
»My aesthetic and interest in my work is to make images that are as organic and eal feeling as possible even if they are controlled« There are a lot of recurring poses in Hip Hop. To what extent do your subjects stage themselves? How much control do you have over the direction of the shoot as your subjects probably have quite strong personalities.
Geordie Wood: Rappers are usually very self aware and very self defining in the sense of how they show themselves to the world and how they like to be portrayed, which is a huge challenge. My aesthetic and interest in my work is to make images that are as organic and real feeling as possible even if they are controlled. I like people to look at my images and feel real intimacy with my subject matter whether it is a person or anything else. I take the time to explain what I need out of people. The pictures that you see of A$AP come from spending a lot of time with him and getting him comfortable in front of the camera.
Your caught A$AP Rocky on film before he totally blew up and before the public constructed an image of him. How was that?
Geordie Wood: I was lucky to shoot A$AP before he got signed. When I photographed him I was making something happen for him, it was still a big deal to be in a magazine. It is hard to find other photos out there that look like the photos I took of him. He is now a totally different person. He has millions of dollars and is being photographed by everyone.
I find your photos have quite a cinematic aesthetic in form of light and staging. Is that intentional?
Geordie Wood: I like them to have a cinematic quality. I really like to stick to the basics and make something beautiful out of the simplest elements of photography. I work with the quality of light, my subjects and the moments that happen once you put the camera up to your face. I like to set scenes and put people in places where not only the technical elements of photography are working right but the scene and environment contribute to the photo in some way. From there I work in a very simple way where I am really concentrating on the subjects, their expressions and how they hold themselves. In the end that produces a product that tells a story and hopefully also cuts to the subject in a very natural and honest way.