Meet Marcus Maddox, a music and fashion photographer coming up in the Nashville scene. His work, inspired by lo-fi concepts, minimalism, and dreamscapes, artfully examines emotions and ordinary situations with color and brilliant composition. Marcus' first published photo book, Pom Poms, gives us a perspective into Nashville's DIY music and fashion scene that is as unique and extraordinary as the eye behind the lens. Read our interview with Marcus below as he describes his passion for photography in his own words.
All photos by Marcus Maddox.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Marcus Maddox and I'm a music & fashion photographer.
How long have you been photographing the scene in Nashville? What got you started?
I have been photographing the Nashville music scene for a about a year and a half. Since February 2016, so, I'm relatively new. I started photographing concerts because most of my close friends are musicians. I can't play music, so having a camera gave me a purpose while my friends were onstage.
When did you know that you wanted to be a photographer?
I decided that I wanted to be a photographer while at a party in my college dorm. Ten of my friends were packed in my room and, little did they know, I felt ultimately useless. Most of them could play music, and I always felt alone because I would just watch them jam. But at this one party, my friend, Hudson, brought a camera. He took pictures of everyone that night, and we loved that. I have a video of him doing it. And in that exact moment, I decided that I wanted to take pictures and make people happy, too. The camera gave me something to do.
Tell us about Pom Poms. What’s the inspiration behind the name and series?
POM POMS is inspired by my interest in DIY fashion and culture. My early music photography was the same as everyone else's. It was the standard shots of bands performing onstage. But I soon realized that it was more interesting to capture the people offstage. Documenting the friendships at a show makes the book about life beyond the music.
What do you hope to accomplish with it?
I want people to enjoy pictures of themselves and their friends. It is about striking a nostalgic chord, almost like a year book. It is a gift to the people of the music scene. In the future, these people will be able to look back at the life that they lived. I want to travel to different cities to make Pom Poms for different people.
Why is documenting the DIY music scene important to you?
Documenting the DIY music scene is important because it is the true soul of Nashville. Culture is solidified when humans are seen just being human. My intention is to make people feel something with every picture. Pom Poms is about more than the music, it's about the friendships and the moments of joy that music inspires.
Describe Nashville’s DIY scene in three words.
Community-oriented. Supportive. Progressive.
Film or digital?
Film. It's more authentic. Even though Pom Poms was shot entirely on a digital camera, I know that film is better. The real badasses like CJ Harvey, Emily Quirk, and Pooneh shoot on film. My digital images only look the way they do because I have a rigorous editing process.
What’s your setup when shooting?
I use a Nikon D90. 18-105mm lens. I use the built-in flash. And that's it—I hardly have anything at all. I don't have lights, meters, or anything. I could fit all the gear I own in the palms of my hands.
Are you experimenting with any new techniques? Color palettes? Genres?
I'm experimenting with a lo-fi genre of photography. I'm calling it this because I want it to resonate with the kind of music that I listen to. Basically, I want my new work to look like images from old VHS tapes. Tapes have a certain warm quality about them. When we started making images more crisp and HD, we took the warmth out of them. It might sound silly, but I truly believe that fuzzy old TV images give off a certain feeling. I think Neil Krug has already nailed the genre that I'm trying to go for right now. I just want my work to be as dreamy as possible.
Who are some artists that influence you? Anyone we should know about?
Kelia Anne MacCluskey and Luca Venter are my heroes and they're my age. They inspired the core of my aesthetic. I'm also inspired by a handful of female music photographers. CJ Harvey's latest book, Keep It Together, has shown me what it means to capture the humanity of touring musicians—that's huge to me. Evan Boutte is an amazing painter that I'm inspired by. His work reminds me to stick with simplicity and make sense out of a mess.
How do you motivate yourself creatively?
Music is what truly gets me motivated to create things. Almost everything I make comes from how I feel about songs that I listen to. Pom Poms should be observed while listening to music. It makes the book so much better.
Where do you go to escape?
I go to Santa Fe, TN to my best friend's parents' house to escape. There's no cell phone service or internet at their place, which means that I get away from almost everything. It's nice.
What bands are you listening to right now?
Where can we find more of your work?
POM POMS Vol. 2. There is more of a story to be told, and more people to be seen.
FOUND is a monthly series by Original Fuzz. We aim to discover visual artists from every corner of the world, no matter the background or creative vision. We believe it's not just what you do, but how you do it. Art is important. Read more articles in this month's magazine.
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