Michael Stonis

Darren Ankenman

Michael Stonis
Darren Ankenman

Hi Darren, tell us where you're from and how you got into photography.
I live in Los Angeles. Years ago I lived in San Francisco. I originally wanted to make movies, videos and documentaries. I really loved Grey Gardens and Crumb, you know, 16mm documentaries, but of course I was living in the DV and HD age and always trying to shoot film. While living in SF I saw some great exhibits no doubt... Jonas Mekas, Eggleston, Larry Clark, Larry Fink, Winogrand, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Mapplethorpe Klein. I think the spark and the shift from film to photography happened up there.

How would you describe your work? 
I would probably describe it by showing some good examples!

When setting up a shoot how prepared are you going into it? Do you have everything mapped out or do you feel things out on set?
I do sometimes think of funny little ideas to try, or pre-visualize maybe a certain setup, but those are merely starting points and that's over as soon as it starts. I tend to look for amazing light and backgrounds as the shoot is happening. I location scout in advance when I can.

What is typically in your camera bag? 
I have too many cameras but they are all unique and fun and quite different from the next. I tend to sort of juggle them as I shoot. Various Rangefinders...Plaubel w67, Ricoh gr 21, Zeiss Icon, Leica R6.2

Do you prefer digital or film?

Who are some of your influences in photography?
Hmm... It's hard to say. I'm influenced by great french films like Claire's Knee, Fat Girl, The Mother and the Whore, Au Hasard Balthazar, Cold Water. Also, certain books have set a certain tone, like Bonjour Tristesse and Play it As it Lays, Fassbinder movies, Wim Wenders, anything with great cinematography. As for specific photographers, they are all so above and beyond great, that all I can do is look up to them...Daido, Klein, McBride, Sawatari, Fieret, Leiter, Newton, ...so many.

Who is one photographer you would suggest our viewers check out? 
This book by Fred Herzog came out recently, amazing street images of Vancouver, early Kodachrome stuff, it's great. Also, the photography in the films of Bela Tarr is amazing.

What interests you in fashion? Do you actually care about clothes and styling - or just focus on the "art"side of it? 
I guess I care when it looks bad. I like subtlety, and if the subject is right I kinda don't care if they are styled at all. For what its worth I'm much more excited about certain designers for women...Vanessa Bruno, Isabel Marant, and such.

What would be a dream shoot for you?
It would be great to shoot with any of these: Jamie Bochert, Clotilde Hesme, Lea Seydoux, Melanie Laurent, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Elizabeth Olsen.

What do you have planned for the near future? Any projects?
I'm putting together a cool little book right now. I am also wanting to go to Corsica for the hell of it.

Thanks Darren!