Award-winning photographer Brian Finke, best known for his personal projects on U.S. subcultures, has a new book out in conjunction with an exhibition at Pocko Gallery in London.
A regular contributor to the The New York Times, Wired Magazine, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Esquire and Newsweek, Finke has been able to infiltrate a wide variety of groups and situations, developing a powerful and iconoclastic body of work that is personal, humorous, political, sexual and at times, disturbing.
Finke’s portfolio includes imagery of body building competitions, U.S. law enforcement officers, high school cheerleaders, and women working in the rap and hip hop industries.
His latest personal project, “Backyard Fights,” takes a look into the world of organized, illegal backyard brawls. These fight clubs are a way for the local and often impoverished community to resolve disputes, thus avoiding more violent and often lethal gun fights.
Finke answered a few questions from OE:
What has drawn you to these subcultures as subjects for your work?
It’s a combination of assignments for magazines and long-term personal projects. Editors think of me for shoots related to projects I shoot personally. I get to photograph all this great stuff all the time which happens to be all the groups of people/subcultures around me.
I always feel like reality is the best. I can’t make it up better then it already exists.
How long do you generally spend with a group in order to do a series?
For my books and exhibitions I spend 2 to 3 years, working on these projects in between assignment work and life; my personal projects and assignment work feed and influence and each other in a great, creative way.
What is the most difficult thing about gaining the trust of your subjects in order to do the work?
I’m there to hang out. I’m a good listener and have fun.
What other photographers (or visual artists) do you admire?
I’m inspired by my friends’ work: Michael Schmelling, Darin Mickey, Nate Bajar, to name a few super-creative people.
Your work is badass, Brian. Are you a badass?
First of all thank you .. I’m a sweet heart 😉
Buy Brian’s book here.
-Interview by Amy Fusselman