Sal Moriarty opens up about his work, what inspires him, and why he thinks there are no perfect days. We really enjoyed this quick chat with him, much like all the other honest interviews we've had in the past. In this age of sugar-coated sentiments, striking honesty is the cup of coffee we need to wake us up. Oh, and he also explains the title "LOVE BOMBED."
Hey, Sal. Welcome to the Lomography Magazine. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi. Thanks! I'm self-taught. I love shooting. I'm inspired by hard light and the patterns it makes. And I like the way light interacts with the human form.
How would you define photography? Could you tell us your first memorable encounter with it?
I don't know if I'm qualified to define all photography. But I guess I would say that good photos to me feel like an attempt to capture a moment or a feeling. Something transient. And something words can't define. That's why photography's not a moving medium. It's about stillness and clarity in the middle of a passing and vanishing present. I think in that way, it's a time capsule. And it's also a way out of time.
The photography I remember most growing up was in a stack of old Vogue magazines my mother kept in her closet. She was an editor for few different, much smaller fashion magazines. I also remember a hidden stack of Lui magazines my dad kept on his desk. He was a lighting technician. I loved the models, styling, lighting and aspirational locations. Even though Lui was a French adult magazine, it wasn't pornographic. And the photography was incredibly artful. I think it had some of the best colors ever. Often even better than Vogue.
What's your favorite thing about taking photographs?
Not knowing exactly what I'm going to get, even if I try to predict it.
Let's talk a bit about your work -- how would you describe your photographic style/approach?
I'd like to think my photos are something you might come across in a forgotten fashion editorial. Or an old erotic magazine that seems tame and hi-brow by today's standards. I try to avoid the typical look of dated or vintage images. Sepia and monochrome aren't interesting to me because they've become the aesthetic of someone trying to make an image look old. By contrast, I think fashion photography from the 60's through the 80's was often trying to look modern, it was just limited by the format and technology of the era. That's a different look entirely.
I'm really into striking, natural light. I can mimic it with a flash or lights of my own, but it's never as good. I think capturing the right light at the right time is as important as the model, wardrobe or pose. I respect photographers who use a lot of strobes and flash, but there's often something plastic and artificial about that look that I don't like in my own work. It feels objectifying in a way that I try to get away from. I would much rather catch a moment in a garden or a room lit by the sun then use a flash against a white wall or seamless. The first feels like a window into the natural world. The second feels like advertising.
Who or what would you say was the biggest influence in your work?
Like I said, the old Vogue and Lui magazines I would look through when I was young were probably the biggest influence. In terms of other photographers, I like Guy Bourdin's work from the late 70's and early 80's. And I love's Cass Bird's candids and "street" photography. Emanuele Ferrari is always shooting amazing editorials. And Ryan McGinley and Tamara Lichtenstein are unbelievably talented and have shot some of my favorite nudes and nature-based portraiture.
How do you stay creative? Do you follow a certain process when it comes to shoots?
I keep shooting. Every time I feel stuck or uninspired I realize it's because I'm not shooting enough. Even the same location can feel brand new with a different model or at another time of day.
The way you shoot your photos -- from preparation down to execution, everything is consistent. Is that a particular style/approach you were going for?
Thanks! I don't aim for consistency, but that's probably what comes out of focusing on the looks I like. I have inspirational photos for each shoot, but I'm really just reacting to the location, light, and model and making choices based on what feels and looks right. Whenever I've tried to recreate the inspo too specifically, the work is uninspired and feels fake to me.
What's the idea behind LOVE BOMBED?
It's an ironic name taking the piss out of self-love and this culture of "I love you so you'll love me." I think a lot of photographers on Instagram want their names to shine above the models and stylists they work with. And I don't. As long as I can keep creating with people who inspire me, then I'm happy.
What reactions are you looking for when people see your work?
I'm not looking for any specific reaction. I hope everyone reacts differently to my work based on their backgrounds and interests. But the photos I personally like usually inspire a sense of nostalgia and longing in me. And I hope my photos can do that for other people.
How do you prepare for your photo shoots?
I just make sure my camera, lenses, and lights are good and that I have a location and subject I'm into.
Aside from taking portraits, what other areas of photography are you interested in?
Anything involving good light.
What advice would you give photographers who are trying to put their work out there?
Put it out there. It's so easy. Just make sure you like it yourself first.
What do you think matters more -- talent or skill?
Good question. Some of my favorite photos didn't take much skill. A lot of the late 70's photography I like isn't well shot. The film was pushed or pulled due to under or overexposure. There's too much grain. The focus isn't perfect. The lens is flaring accidentally. A bad lens coating is causing a haze over the image. It's all these imperfections that often make a photo really interesting. Digital cameras have made a lot of this non-existent. And that's sad because I love it. In the past, I think these imperfect photos got published because of a certain angle or perspective on the subject. And I suppose that's talent.
If you could replace photography with one thing, what would it be?
I don't think I could. Maybe I'd take up painting.
How does a perfect day look like for Sal Moriarty?
At the risk of sounding pessimistic, there are no perfect days. I think doing what you can, in whatever time you have and accepting and owning all your imperfections is the goal.
What's next for you?
I'm always shooting!
Any last words for our readers?
Love you! Thanks for reading!