We had the good fortune of connecting with Curtis McElhinney and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Curtis, what are you inspired by?
Many things inspire me. I think honesty ranks in the top and maybe the crux of all the work I attempt to create. People who bare their soul revealing their struggles are not only honest but courageous. My hope is to capture that struggle and turn it into hope for someone else who maybe experiencing the same thing. Tiny details in nature move me by their elegance and design. My desire is to express those fascinations in a form that moves others to realize that beauty even in the worst of times is right in front of us.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I strive to have my work have a message that helps build our society into something better than it was before I arrived. It is due this aspiration that I derived my mission statement to be: Through photography, I wish to foster a stronger sense of global community. It is this desire to communicate this message that I started filming video as well as take still photographs. I am what is considered a hybrid shooter. In some instances, a still image tells a much better story than any video ever could. Sometimes the opposite is true. It is by utilizing these two mediums that I find the method that tells the story best. The path in life is never considered easy and I do not think that anyone would ever classify their challenges to succeed as smooth. There are many instances of scraped knees and wounded egos. When I started my career in photography, I had hoped to make a difference and inspire the world to move magnanimously towards brilliance. Since that time, I have one of my images hanging in the permanent exhibit, Becoming Los Angeles, at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County on immigrants who settled in Los Angeles. My yearly videos for the Walking Strong Foundation have helped raise over a million dollars to help families who are struggling with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. My photography show tying the cultures of Los Angeles and Bangkok together toured in Thailand and Los Angeles and I am currently a fellow at the organization Friends of Residential Treasures Los Angeles where I am producing a five part documentary series on the homes created by famed architect Myron Hunt. (The first video was posted mid-October entitled, Villa Carlotta, at the website www.fortla.org. If the video isn’t on the landing page, it is in the video section.) One of the images in my flower series found on instagram was selected as part of an art show in Italy. The image was also used in the marketing of the program for this November. The flower series was my desire to uplift during the time that most people are feeling scared and uncertain. It is also the images that are presented as part of this article.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take them to The Huntington Gardens, Descanso Gardens, Griffith Park Observatory, Mount Wilson, the beach of course, downtown Los Angeles to our newest tallest building, and Hollywood for the typical tourist experience. If it was my parents, I would be at the Autry Museum and checking out all of the old trains. If it was an architecture buff, we would visit the Bradbury Building, Union Station, Olivera Street and the Hollyhock House to see the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. And, of course, one would be remiss without a trip to both Getty Museums.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My first job in photography was from the most gentle of souls and wonderful wit of a man named Seth Joel. He is a photographer based in North Hollywood. On that shoot was another assistant named John Rutledge who is still active in the photography community in Los Angeles. These two introduced me to every aspect of photography that was essential towards a successful shoot: the technical, the client, production and most importantly relationship building.
Other: all of my social media is at the address @curtisvision but the only one I actively post to is Instagram.