Photographer Spotlight: Felix Massey

Posted by: on Jul 18, 2018

Bio: Felix Massey is a 17-year-old Los Angeles based photographer, follow him on Instagram @felix_massey

I would describe my style of photography as…

Many of my photographs are narrative based works or representations. I have a strong interest in combining narrative-based portraiture with a cinematic sensibility. I tap my urban surroundings as inspiration and backdrop for many of my photo sets. Most of my images are captured on location with the use of artificial or enhanced lighting techniques. As a young photographer, I’m also exploring many different facets of photography.

What was your first camera, and how’d you get started in photography?

The first cameras that I got my hands on were the Disposable Kodak Cameras. I shot on disposable cameras for awhile since my grandma would give me one every month.  Since there were only 27 images, I learned quickly that I had to compose my images because I only had so many frames. I then graduated and borrowed a family member’s Canon XTI. In 2007, I was living in New York City while my Dad was doing a massive civic and public art exhibition. He with his 20,000 volunteers painted NYC Taxis with flowers. I would go around the city after school and photograph the art installation.  I would often go around the city on my father’s shoulders to get an elevated perspective of the taxis.

Your dad, Ed Massey is an artist known for beautifying the world via large-scale civic and public art projects. How has he influenced you wanting to become a photographer?

My dad is extraordinarily visual and through his work, he introduced me to visual stimuli and different aesthetics. My Dad and I would often go to new art shows, where I was exposed to new concepts and ideas through the visual arts. My dad always taught me to dream big, and that “no” is not the answer. Though we have chosen different medians, yet we are very similar in our tenacious appetite to create.

What’s your most memorable shot or shoot, be it challenging to capture or interesting subject?

I was working on a black and white self-portrait series back in 2016 in which I was paying homage to wartime photojournalists. One of my images from that series paid homage to Joseph L. Galloway, a photojournalist who documented the Vietnam War. I needed to find a place that matched the topography of Vietnam. We drove around Los Angeles and found a location deep in Malibu Creek. My subjects, all dressed in war uniforms and carrying mock artillery, hiked with me for 4 Miles to get to the swamp. We carried ladders,  sandbags, C-stands, and cameras, and we went off the trail and moved through the bush in search of a swamp. This series was important for me because all of these photographers that I chose had influenced me with there honorable courage and dedication to there craft and art form.

What image are you most proud of from your photography portfolio?

“End of an Era, Last one standing” The ingredients just worked. It’s not often that all the ingredients fall into place. “End of an Era, Last One Standing” was a photograph that I took of a newsstand in Los Angeles. My intention was to shoot the newsstand and illuminate it with my gear, which gave the newsstand a surreal glow. The actual newsstand is lit dimly and is at the end of a business parking lot. It is one of the last remaining newsstands in Los Angeles. It has a historic significance as my generation rarely frequents magazine or newsstands (they will soon be forgotten, just like the payphone).

When I set up the shot there was one man intently reading a magazine. The stranger who happened to be reading the magazine was willing to participate in my photo shoot. I directed the subject on his posture and position. I carefully picked out the magazine. His natural facial expression, attire, stance, and grasp of the magazine could not have worked better if I had located a model. I set up the lighting, and I captured the image. There were no other people hindering the shoot. Throughout the 2 hour shoot, no pedestrians blocked the shot. Within the two hours, every single parking place was occupied except for the three that were in the photo. I could not have asked for a more perfect scenario.

My dream gig would be…

As a 17-year-old, I’m not quite certain what my dream gig would be quite yet. I am always shooting in different environments and exploring new subject matter. I love working with large casts of people and orchestrating shoots.

My favorite piece of gear is…

My favorite piece of gear is the Broncolor Siros L 800. In all my shoots, for lighting, I have only used my Siros L 800. This strobe light is so versatile that I can fit it in my backpack, and take it with me everywhere I travel. This light allows me the capability to create and shape light across many environments. I only have one Siros L 800 light, but the light’s power is very impressive.

Do you shoot tethered?

Absolutely! I have been shooting tethered for the last year and a half. Shooting tethered is a game changer. I am able to compose my images and see my images right there on my laptop. Shooting tethered has changed the way I shoot because it enables me to see my images in real time as well as check focus peaking and exposures. Shooting with tether tools allows me to tether my cameras in all sorts of terrain thanks to the tough wire and lightning fast connection.

My favorite piece of Tether Tools gear is…

I have been working with the Tether Pro USB 3.0 to USB Female Active Extension.  It is vital to my work. This cord, because of its length, gives me a large range of room to move about, so I am not restrained from achieving my desired result. I use this tether on almost every shoot.  I do not personally own the “T” set-up,  however, I believe this setup is the most practical and efficient way to shoot tethered on the go.

What’s on your photography gear shopping list?

I have been very fortunate because I attend an LA public school where I have access to their photography equipment. My teacher, Rick Steil, who is an amazing teacher as well as a photographer has enabled me to check out camera equipment very frequently.  He has made it possible for me to have access to a variety of equipment where I otherwise would not have. On my wishlist, I have the Canon 5DS, Broncolor Siros L 800, Sirui or Manfrotto Carbon Fiber tripods, and the Tether Tools “T” set-up. My dream would to one day be able to shoot with a digital medium format camera.  I am open to all different medium format cameras, however, I have my eye on Hasselblad and Phase One.

The best advice I can offer a fellow photographer would be…

Do not let financial restrictions determine what you can produce. I have found ways and alternatives to going around these obstacles. I myself, on almost a daily basis, email companies across the globe to see if I can photograph their products or partner with them. I’m not daunted or discouraged if don’t respond, as I know that the only guarantee that they won’t respond is if I don’t at least try to contact them in the first place. Also, I would say, don’t limit yourself to what has already been done or feel that your ideas are not worth shooting. I was brought being told, “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Robert Kennedy

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