Name: Richard Marz
Studio: Marz Photography
Location: Los Angeles, CA
What made you get into photography?
Shortly after graduating high school, my girlfriend, a high-fashion model represented by Elite Model Management, moved to Paris. Being a traditional fine artist, and wanting to experience one of the greatest artistic cities in the world, I tagged along. Elite put her up in an apartment with a couple other models. I, of course, wasn’t supposed to be living there, but the other girls didn’t mind. While in Paris I was bombarded by the fashion industry, rushing around town with the models on “go-sees”, chatting with them about their shoots in strange, foreign lands. One day I even had the pleasure of attending one of my girlfriend’s photo shoots. It was for a six-page editorial spread for French Vogue. The photographer, Pamela Hanson, one of the most respected talents in the biz, was kind enough to let me hang around. That was a big deal; it’s something that’s NEVER allowed! But for some reason Pamela adored my girlfriend enough to let me stay. It was that moment, witnessing the whole process, that attracted me to photography.
How would you describe your photography style?
At a very early age I fell in love with the classic films of the 30s and 40s. My dad would take me to an old theater to see Errol Flynn and Rita Hayworth movies when all my friends were going to see Star Wars. The way those cinematographers created dramatic imagery just using just light and shadow was so unreal to me. What Gregg Toland did with Citizen Kane was beyond beautiful! I’ve always tried to capture that essence in my work, drawing out the emotional, dramatic essence of that era with my models.
Any photographers or artists that you looked up to that helped influence your style?
Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Ellen von Unwerth, Peter Lindberg and Sante D’Orazio are all great influences. But at the end of the day, I have to say it’s the true masters of light, Philippe Halsman, Richard Avedon and George Hurrell, who influenced me the most. I adore drama in photography, and they guide me every time I get behind the camera.
Did you study photography in school or are you self-taught?
None of my artistic talents come from formal training. Art school wasn’t for me. However, when I was 25, a couple of friends and I started an entertainment magazine (Axcess Magazine) on a whim. Within the four years of art-directing Axcess I worked with dozens of talented celebrity photographers, working on shoots with the biggest names in music and film. Gwen Stefani, Salma Hayek and Milla Jovovich (to name a few). I didn’t have the skill to photograph them myself, but I certainly took notes while watching these masterful talents do their thing. It was an invaluable learning experience to say the least. Later, when I interviewed pin-up artist Olivia for one of our issues, she gave me the best advice anyone could ever give an artist. She said simply, “Get paid to learn.” That statement had a profound effect on me, and I use it as my mantra to this day.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about starting a photography business?
One word: confidence. I once read a book by the filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. The book was called “Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player.” This book taught me a profound lesson. He said (to paraphrase) “The minute you choose to become something, you are that thing.” His idea is simple enough, but hard for most people to swallow. This basic idea was that you, and you alone, have the power to choose what you are in this life. Ignoring the fear that paralyzes most of us from reaching our dreams. Now, that’s not to say hard work won’t come into play, but when people tell you that you suck, you just keep moving forward. To Hell with them, you are a photographer the second you pick up that camera and point it toward a subject. The rest is patience and perseverance.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
The people. The creativity. The passion. The beauty. Short of becoming a filmmaker, it’s a wonderful way of expressing a vision through the minds of many. I love collaborating on projects with other artists. That is, as long as they know I’m the captain of the ship. Ha ha!