Art

Unconventional Beauty with Michael Cannon

The places and people that we pass by or pass by us daily are truly fascinating, and can be slightly eerie in a mysterious and beautiful way if we take the time to slow down

Images by Michel Cannon interview by Teo J. Babini

Just like the body of water he grew up next to, Lake Huron, Michael Cannon’s body of work is large and beautiful, in its own unique way.

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

If I had to name your body of work, I’d call it twisted Americana. Would you call that an accurate description? Why?
“Twisted Americana”, I’ve never thought about my body of work that way, but I like it. I like to think of my images as a collection of odd moments caught in time. The places and people that we pass by or pass by us daily are truly fascinating, and can be slightly eerie in a mysterious and beautiful way if we take the time to slow down, become quiet and empty and really SEE them.

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

You play a lot with antique looking techniques (grain, silhouette, vignette). Do you use special equipment for this or is it mostly done in post?
Whether I shoot with film, digital or an iPhone, everything is shot straight. Although, with my iPhone I’ll shoot a lot with Hipstamatic. The look I’m going for is mostly done in post. I’ll do a lot of selective diffusion to different parts of an image and slight toning. It’s also very important to know how the look and feel of your work relates and connects to your vision and the way the subject felt to you. This might require a heavy hand when it comes to contrast or adding more grain to an image. Usually my finished images bear little visual veracity to the actual scene I shot, but the finished product really feels accurate. For my iPhone shots, Snapseed is indispensable to the post processing work.

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

Your portraits, in particular, seem to stray from the traditional style guide. How did you develop your look?
The surroundings of a person and their background environment add visual context to a portrait that can add and create mood. Also in portraits, I don’t think the most flattering light or expression is really beautiful. I think that there is a unique beauty that is best expressed in non-formulaic or non-traditional portraits. There’s a certain poignancy to faces that might not even be considered conventionally beautiful.

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

Most of your images are black and white, desaturated at the very least. Why do you stay away from bright color?
I mostly shoot black and white because when I first got into photography as a teenager, all the most powerful and beautiful images I saw were black and white. They had a power that really moved me. We obviously see the world in color in all of our waking moments, and to see the world in black and white is just really bizarre, which intrigues me. Also, I think when you look at a color photograph, the first thing your brain registers is color. Whereas with a black and white image, the brain registers shape and form, which can really help create mood. At least that’s how I perceive images. I do like color and would like to explore more of it in the future.

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

I notice many images of signs and storefronts. What draws you into to shooting these?
I absolutely love the signage and storefronts in LA, especially in my neighborhood. I live in a highly Hispanic area of LA, and so many stores advertise their goods and wares with these drawings and paintings that are wonderfully crude. I’m originally from a very small town in Canada, and one of the first things I noticed when I moved here was all the different storefronts and signage in different languages. In fact, the majority of my shots are within a twenty-block radius of my home. Several years ago I had an exhibition of my work from this area called, “3rd and Vermont” at the gallery that represents me in LA.

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

Also a lot of beach and waterside shooting… Is this where you live, or do you seek these locations out?
As I mentioned, I’m from a small town in Canada. My hometown, Southampton, is on one of the Great Lakes called Lake Huron. Every August I go back home for around one month and shoot mostly along the lake showing how people play and interact with this gigantic and beautiful body of water. I had and have an on going series with this body of work called, “Lakeside Sketches”, which I hope to make into a book in the future.

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

One image that particularly strikes me is the one of the girl in the bar. Your use of exposure highlights the cell phone glare across her face. Was this intentional? What are your thoughts on “tech-addiction” in our society?
Yes, catching the glare of the cell phone on that girl’s face was absolutely what I was going for. She had been sitting there for a while by herself, looking lonely and a bit gloomy. But when she went on her cellphone, there was a warmth on her face. Not only from the cell phone light, but also because she was connected to someone through cyber space even though she was surrounded by dozens of people. I thought this was very interesting. I don’t have that many thoughts on “tech-addiction” in our society. But as with most things in life, moderation is the best path and any type of addiction is unhealthy.

You can see more of Michael’s work on his Instagram

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

©Michael Cannon

 

 

2 Responses to “Unconventional Beauty with Michael Cannon”

  1. Maggie Steber says:

    I love Michael Cannon’s work. It is moody at the same time it is warm and welcoming. When I look at his pictures even if I have never seen them or the place or the person in the pictures I feel like the photographs of her old friends. I discovered his work on Instagram and I really appreciate his aesthetics. Maggie Steber

  2. Stephen Reel says:

    I can relate to what Maggie said. I’ll add, interesting images outside of the ordinary. Great stuff and a great guy.