Michael Mundy is a big time commercial lifestyle/fashion photographer and NYC native whose personal photo project, An Afternoon With, is one of our great Internet obsessions.
With astonishing intimacy, An Afternoon With documents the homes of different notable New York characters. And every time, Micahel seems to capture something wonderfully real about the way people live. There are ashtrays, and laundry baskets, and appliance cords. While most shelter photography hides these everyday details, they only serve to make Michael’s images that much stronger. We were honored for the opportunity to chat with him about photography and interiors.
What’s the An Afternoon With origin story?
An Afternoon With [AAW] was initially my way of featuring people I knew. For the longest time I wanted to shoot some people I knew, but never got the chance. I started shooting interesting people who inspired me. Yet the pictures were just getting buried in my archives. There were so many people whose story I wanted to share, people with whom I had a connection. Rather than just store them away, I decided to put them online for others to see.
Why do you choose to shoot An Afternoon With exclusively with natural lighting?
Part of AAW’s origins was that I simply wanted to take a break from some of the big production photo shoots I was doing. I wanted to get back to my roots by eliminating as much technical training I had developed and just think about the subject at hand.
Most importantly, I didn’t want to distract my subjects with lighting equipment. I wanted them to try and forget I was there. After the second shoot I dropped the lights, stopped bringing an assistant, and just started showing up with a camera and a tripod.
What are you looking to discover when you go to photograph a new apartment?
Since so many of AAW’s subjects are people I have never met before I am always looking forward to getting to know the person on the other side of the door.
What I am always looking for is the things that inspire them, their objects, images or simply the views from their windows. The things they live with daily give me insight on to what makes them tick.
What are some An Afternoon With spaces that stand out in your memory?
That’s always a tough question. I spend so much time in the moment its often hard to think back, Celina Leroy was an unexpected find. I went to shoot her father Billy Leroy and he told me to go downstairs to meet his daughter. I took one look in her room and was blown away. It instantly became a separate story. There were a few places I could have moved right in like Maria and Mark McManus’s place or Scott Newkirk’s.
Do you think there some formula for what makes a space feel like a home, or is it impossible to pin down?
I think a home should be filled with your inspirations and reflect your aspirations. I think any formula would be entirely personal. It just depends on you finding your balance between the things you love and the things you need.
For you personally, what defines a good photograph?
Balance. Balance in composition, balance in light and shadow, but most of all a good photo should ask as many questions as it answers.
Images: Michael Mundy