We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael James O’Brien and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael James, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I have always been interested in the communication of ideas through photography. I determined early in my career what I was passionate about and tried to stay on track. Saying “no” is a great thing to do when you know that a project is not fulfilling. Having a strong point of view or signature helps to define your work especially in a very crowded field.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Nothing worth doing is easy; I know that’s a cliche but I think its true. I have never looked back or indulged fears of success.. My work in both writing and photography has been around what Walker Evans called “the hand of man”. My commissioned work has been about artists and writers and their effect on the world. The other influences were film, and New York night life in the 80’s & 90’s which were legendary times even as we balanced the incredible losses to AIDS.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Atlanta now since I became the Associate Chair of Photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design, SCAD Atlanta. Many friends visit and pre pandemic we visit SCAD Fashion Museum where there in currently an exhibition of Albert Watson’s photographs. My favorite restaurant is Miller Union. In the summer we swim every day. We also visit the High Museum for the Photography collections. 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?
I was very grateful to be with very strong teachers as I came up. In high school by English teacher taught me the dangers of accepting mediocrity. In college my English Professor Robert W Daniel taught me the importance of reading and expressing my ideas clearly. In graduate school at Yale I was very fortunate to have the great Walker Evans as my mentor & he taught me where to look and how to see.
Facebook: Michael James OBrien