So we were especially thrilled when Max agreed to collaborate on AHLEM’s debut art book. Shot on the streets of Paris, its subtle and astute observations offer a master class in suggestion and inference over declaratory statement.
I studied art history and photography at New York University. There was a street photographer named Philip Perkis who had a great influence on me, and I took classes with him and began shooting. After that, I worked at The New Yorker in the photography department and assisted a little bit. I had a friend who was a photo agent who saw my personal work and loved it. I started showing people, mostly in France, the pictures. One of my first commercial assignments was with Carine Roitfeld for French Vogue.
I’m interested in fleeting moments, sadness, joy and fragments that mirror the universal. The rhythm of the street and landscape.
The book contains a selection of images that I took in Paris. Ahlem wanted to do a book focusing on Paris, a city I’ve photographed a lot. The edit is about ambiance and atmosphere. It is not about a specific time or theme.
I love the way that the light in paris reflects off the broad flat surfaces and the whiteness of the buildings. This creates a suspended and anonymous sense of time that you don’t find in cities like New York. Every photograph of New York is about New York, because the city is so recognizable. But I think the streets of Paris are more anonymous which allows you to focus on the subject matter more than the location. People and objects are isolated, the figures take on great shapes. It’s quite organized, visually.
The best thing about my job is the people I get to meet. I’m drawn to eccentric people, and I’m often hired to photograph them. Quite recently I spent a day with Balthus’ wife Setsuko in Paris, and that was just incredible because of her breadth of history and experience. Being with someone like that for a day or two is really fun for me.
I’m unhappy when I’m not expressing myself so I need to be doing creative work.
In terms of commercial work, I would say that there were a series of fashion stories that I was shooting around 2012 - 2014 that at the time did not get much attention but that I feel were quite influential. But I don’t know. You ask me tomorrow, I’ll say something different.
I mean, so many. I’m really a fan of photography, so that’s a long list of people. But in relation to this [AHLEM] book, which is more traditional street photography, I would say members of the Bauhaus such as Moholy-Nagy and Umbo….and then later on street photographers such as André Kertész, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand.
Maybe sadness and eccentricity
I’ve made a living over the last years in the fashion world, but many of my friendships and alliances are in the art world. I have always been interested in artists and makers who sit a bit outside of the mainstream art market and am interested in giving them a voice and working with them on exhibitions. The gallery was founded out of that interest.
I would say that it’s not about what you do as much as it’s about the consistency of doing. The arc of your life and your career is long. It’s not about any one action or any one photograph. Often you can get stuck in just the minutiae of a situation. I do it all the time, and it’s just a waste of time, really.
It is not different. Of course, sometimes the outcome is horrible, because the elements you’re working with are no good or you are just not taking good pictures. But when the elements and the crew are good usually the photos come out good as well.