EXCLUSIVE: Our Interview with Ray Lee

Photos courtesy of Ray Lee Ray Lee is an avid photographer. He photographs people (duh) mainly for fashion/editorial purposes and when c...

Photos courtesy of Ray Lee

Ray Lee is an avid photographer. He photographs people (duh) mainly for fashion/editorial purposes and when coupled on a camera shot on film, its results are just fantastic with a dose of old school nostalgia. His latest artwork is also published on Contributor Magazine. We do certainly hope he gets to fulfil his dream of getting something larger than a one-bedroom apartment if he ever wins a million dollars! Most of Ray's shots are styled by his girlfriend, Kristina Bonatakis.

Read on for our exclusive interview with him.

Hi Ray! Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hello! I'm Ray. I basically grew up on the Jersey Shore, went to art school in New York City, did all the things one does while they're young and living in the city. For a few years I worked at an independent fashion magazine (theblowup R.I.P), I moved back to New Jersey a couple of years ago with my girlfriend and stylist Kristina and our four cats: Moo, Squidgy, Bean, and Gooey, shout out to them if they're reading this!

When did you discover your passion for photography?
I got into photography purely by accident. I was a pretty poor student in high school, so when I graduated I really had no plans for what I wanted to do. I took a few classes at a local community college, one of which happened to be a photography class. I enjoyed it and went on to do a summer program at Parsons; loved living in the city so much that I applied to do my BFA there, and luckily was accepted and I guess the rest is history?

What do your photos usually portray? (e.g a certain emotion, fashion, humour, etc?)
I focus mainly on fashion, but sometimes I do portraits as well. One night when I was still young and living at home, I happened to see a show about the glamorous life of the fashion photographer, travelling around the world making loads of money taking pictures of beautiful people. I guess it really had an impact on me, because I've basically wanted to be a fashion photographer ever since, although, the dream lifestyle has yet to come true. Fingers crossed!

Where do you get inspirations for your shoots?
When I was in high school, back in the late 90's, I was really into the hardcore music scene and going to shows. My circle of friends were skaters and snowboarders. So I'm interested in sub-cultures, or at least the aesthetics of different sub-cultures. I think those early experiences really inform the ideas I want to work with in my shoots. I recently shot an editorial reinterpreting the goth aesthetic, but with a modern twist.

What equipment do you use?
I don't get caught up with the technical aspects of photography. I'm more about the "feeling" of the picture, not so much making the "perfect" picture. For the longest time I didn't even use hair or make-up people, partially because I wanted to keep the set intimate, and also because I'm into a more natural look/feel, but that has changed slightly recently. Right now I'm trying to tweak my style a bit and become a little more polished, because to me fashion photography is about creating beautiful images to sell a product/lifestyle. Oh yeah, I shoot with a couple of Olympus Stylus Epics and sometimes a Contax tvs, when I need a different mm lens.

If you could only work with one colour, which one would it be and why?
I don't know if I can really answer this question. Colour really doesn't play a big part when I'm conceptualizing an editorial or photo. But personally, I like the muted colour palate of Juergen Teller and David Armstrong.

What do you do during your free time, besides taking pictures?
I don't take pictures as much as I want to. There are lots of things that I don't like the look of in photos, such as, cars, so it's hard for me to just take pictures casually, so that leaves a lot of spare time. I watch a lot of television, mostly political news shows (a new obsession), music videos, and Game of Thrones series and cooking shows. I also do quite a bit of reading, Kristina and I have been on a Michel Houellebecq kick lately and I look at as many fashion magazines as I can.

What would you do if you’ve won a million dollars?
I've read quite a few interviews on your site and I think most people say they want to travel the world, that's nice, but I would prefer to spend the money on an apartment in the city. A not so fun fact, the average price for a one bedroom apartment in New York City is a little over 1 million dollars!

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