Myles Loftin is an African-American photographer currently attending the Parsons School of Design in New York City. Loftin uses his medium to showcase different concepts and emotions. He hopes to break through a white industry and inspire other people of color to never feel defeated. We teamed up with Loftin to talk more about his role in society, his photographic style, and his views on gender roles. He also shares his experience working with Art Hoe Collective, a creative platform geared towards people of color.
Q: Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Myles Loftin, and I’m a freelance photographer and art student.
Q: How would you describe your style?
I would describe my style as vibrant, and youthful. I’m always developing my style, I feel like I’m always changing.
Q: How did you decide to embark a risky career? What keeps you motivated?
I discovered that I loved photography in 9th grade, and from then I knew that I wanted to pursue a career as a photographer. I always knew that I wanted to be an artist, but once I picked up a camera that solidified the exact path I wanted to follow.
It’s hard sometimes to stay motivated, especially in New York City and in the age of social media. You see so many people your age, and even younger being so successful, gaining all these opportunities and you begin to compare yourself to them. Seeing all the people who support me, and are rooting for my success keeps me motivated to continue and work hard.
Q: What is your role in society and how do you want to impact people with your work?
I’d like to inspire people with my work, and my existence as a black photographer. There aren’t a lot of famous black photographers right now, especially in fashion. I feel like being out there, and being successful will inspire others to pursue a career in photography. If you aren’t being represented, it’s very hard to imagine yourself in a particular position.
Q: We came across photos of you wearing Milk Makeup; Would you consider yourself a non-conformist when it comes to gender roles and sexism?
Yeah I’d definitely say that I believe and non conformity, and practice it in my life. Gender roles are age old constructs that only restrict people for stupid reasons. I can slowly see them dissolving which I think is a step to a more progressive future. And although I believe in non conformity, I do conform in a lot of ways. I’m still unlearning the constructs of society. It’s a process.
Yeah, it took a lot for me to decide to put up that statement. I was removed from the Art Hoe Collective because my actions made the collective a space some of the curators felt unsafe in. I apologized, and moved on and from that point made efforts to fix the behaviors that led to my removal. The statement I made stemmed from my frustration of a few curators rehashing things from the past that I had done and improved from. As a young person, I feel that you make so many mistakes and you should be able to move on from them. My statement gained different responses from different people but I don’t think I regret making it.
Q: How has your environment affected your style of photography?
New York City has so many interesting people to photograph. Even just within the confines of my school I’ve found so many great subjects and been inspired by them in my work. Also, being at an art school I’ve been inspired to create more conceptual work. I have a lot of ideas written down in my journal that I’d like to put out in the near future.
Q: How do you capture your emotions through photography?
Colors can be a great tool to capture emotions. I love yellows, and reds, and blues. They all have such a strong presence and can bring so much emotion to a photograph. Angles also help amplify and capture emotion. I love using low angle shots to make my subjects look powerful and confident. Also, just focusing on my subjects and really paying attention to their demeanor and personality can help me translate their emotion to a photograph.
Q: Where do you see your work in 5 years? How do you plan to grow and improve?
In 5 years I see myself living in New York and regularly shooting for some of my favorite magazines which include i-D, Dazed, Wonderland, and The Fader. I also see myself curating shows to display my work in galleries, and being an influential voice in helping young photographers make a way for themselves in the industry. In 5 years I want to be doing things I never thought that I’d do right now, I want to explore far past my comfort zone as to not limit myself and my growth.
Q: What is something you would change about the industry?
An obvious problem in the industry is its lack of diversity so that would probably be the first thing I’d change.
Q: How do you prepare for a project?
Sometimes I write down the idea in my journal or my notes in my phone. A lot of times it’s just a phrase, or a sentence or a word. Other times I’ll just keep the idea in my head until I see an image online or somewhere that reminds me of the idea and then I’ll start working on it. Once I’m ready to start developing the idea for the project I usually go through the internet looking for reference images, and color palettes that align with my idea so that I can create a moodboard.
Q: What work are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my 80s prom series, and not necessarily because of the amazing reception that I received from it but because of the process. This project really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was scared to actually have all these people come into this venue I reserved and be responsible for directing and photographing them. I did a lot for that project that I’m really proud of. I found a venue to shoot, cast about 10 different artists in the area, photographed them and interviewed them. The thousands of likes, retweets and reblogs I received was just icing on the cake.
Seek out opportunity and don’t let anyone, especially family, discourage you from pursuing your love.
Q: Describe your ultimate dream project. Where would it take place? Who would be in it?
i-D is my favorite magazine so I think it would be really cool to shoot a cover for one of their issues. I’m such a huge fan of their iconic wink that’s on all their covers. I would probably shoot it in a studio on a colored backdrop. I love using colored backdrops, they’re so fun. My team would consist of my friends Eddy, Anzie, Brandon and Darryl. I would have Brandon and Darryl as creative directors, Eddy as my photographer’s assistant and Anzie as the model. We argue a lot, but I think we make a great team.