Exclusive: Celebrity Photographer Jonathan Mannion at Milk Studios

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New York’s Milk Studios Gallery is the Studio 54 of the Chelsea art scene, always featuring larger than life, star-studded, exhibits with a flair for both style and high-profile spectacle. Last week, Flavorpill hung out with celebrity photographer Jonathan Mannion at the opening party for his new show at Milk, which runs through July 11th. Mannion, a Richard Avedon protégé, has worked for the last 15 years with such superstars as Jay-Z, Mos Def, Eminem, Lebron James, Andre 3000, and many more. We scored a quick Q&A with him, as well as some insider shots from the show .

Flavorpill: What drives you to shoot the the subjects you choose on film?

Jonathan Mannion: I’ve been lucky to photograph some of the most talented people in the world. My goal is always to create a defining image that shows their power and energy in a personal context. I want people to feel like they’re being let into these superstars’ lives, stepping into a key moment that will never happen again.

FP: What photographers do you look up to?

JM: I have many people who influenced my work but certainly a few stand alone in categories who I guess I would consider heroes. My parents initially for supporting and encouraging my wish to have a careen in art. Richard Avedon, a mentor to me and one who opened the door to that career. I was able to see the biggest jobs being done on the biggest stage, I’m very grateful for that opportunity. And Jay-Z for believing in my skills and having a passion for my photography. He allowed me to kick off my career by giving me the opportunity to create his first album cover, Reasonable Doubt .

FP: Where do you think photography is going with the advent of digital technology?

JM: I am still shooting film, and will do so until people demand that I shoot digital. I’m very much a purist when it comes to the tradition of photography. I will say that it’s not the camera that you use that makes a photo, it’s a combination of so many elements: lighting, the moment captured, etc. Truthfully it’s not the fact that it’s film or digital that makes a photo great. I am exploring the digital world, but still prefer film at the moment. I do hugely respect the people that push out the boarders of what one is able to achieve visually because of new technologies.

FP: Who would you love to shoot and why?

JM: There are so many people that I would love to spend time with and photograph. My career is moving in a different direction so I’m most excited about shooting some of the living legends of not only the music industry, but incredible artists in different fields as well. I’d love to photograph Sade, Michael Jordan, and Sir Ben Kingsley.