Canadian-born, Toronto based fashion photographer, director and image-maker Michael Seleski seeks to explore individuality and identity through high impact visuals. Seleski pursued their BFA in photography at Toronto’s OCAD University and was accepted into the Mastered Photography Program with Nick Knight in 2015.
Michael’s work showcases his ability to shoot both fashion and portraiture to a consistently innovative and modern effect. With a bold aesthetic and refined use of lighting, Seleski looks to the future of fashion image making while challenging notions of the gender binary and beauty. His inspirations are varied, culled from contemporary art, design, music, and literature.
Name: Michael Seleski
Year of Study: 4th year
What you shoot: Fashion editorial / portraiture
Camera of choice: Hasselblad H4D / iPhone
Who or what are your main photographic inspirations?
For me I always look at fashion and people who interest me, recently I have been looking to the queer community and been inspired by the need to refresh our understanding of queerness. However, some specific photographers that inspire me are Avedon, Irving Penn, and Nick Knight.
What it is you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?
Right now with my directed studio work I am looking at a new way to celebrate gender and individuality in a fashion image. Whether or not it does that I don’t actually know unless I ask to see if my research and image match with what I wanted to say in the first place.
Can you walk us through the process that you use to set up a portrait?
First, I start to look for clothes then I look for models. I actually spend most of my time figuring out what I am trying to say and why I am saying it.
What project are you working on now?
Right now I am finishing up my work for Directed Studio, but also preparing to relocate myself.
Tell me more about what happens after you take the photo, and how it becomes a final image.
Typically after a shoot I feel pretty emotional, so I like to take a day away from the images and come back with a critical eye. I am also lucky because my partner works alongside me helping decide which image interests us the most. Then I go into full editing where I work on the image until it is exactly how I want it.
What subject matter do you tend to spend the most time working on?
Fashion and people, they’re the most interesting to me.
What are your favourite places to shoot in Toronto?
Although I love shooting in a clean studio, two of my favorite locations are the R.C Harris Water Treatment Plant on the east end and this really beautiful small street on King Street. I absolutely love them!
What is your favorite piece of equipment in your camera bag at the moment?
Where do you find inspiration when you’re in the dreaded photo rut?
Usually I keep an ongoing list of ideas on my phone or I will text myself ideas throughout the day. Whenever I feel like I am in a rut I go though my list and think about what is most relevant to right now!
What attracted you to photography in the first place?
I remember as a teenager thinking that photography allowed me to work and meet new people, and that people wanted to have cool new profile pictures. I liked the idea that hanging out with my friends turned more into planning and setting up photo shoots and taking pictures with our new clothes.
Where do you foresee your career path going? Who would you like to work with in the future?
I want to move to Europe and follow a MA degree in Belgium or London, but I see myself continuing to work on fashion films and editorials. I would love to work with publications like Dazed and i-D or big brands like Prada and Raf Simons.
Are their any specific OCAD U Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?
I am fortunate to have been taught by some incredible professors at OCAD U. However, Wendy Coburn has definitely changed my life. Wendy taught me that being queer and challenging the world around me is important. She is the reason behind my directed studio work!
How have your experiences in first year informed your work?
I don’t necessarily think my experience in first year has informed my work today, but it has especially helped educate me and inform my love for sculpture and integrated media.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in photography?
- Do lots of research on photographers that came before you.
- Think about challenging photography in a new way.
- Expect to spend money
You can also check out more of Michael’s work at OCAD U’s Graduate Exhibition.