Gary is a photographic artist, and videographer from Detroit, MI.
With a profound passion for travel, he lives as a freelancer for over a decade, photographing in 11 states, 6 islands and 10 countries.
Since 2014, Gary has worked for Ambassador Magazine and freelanced for a number of clients in the television and media industry.
In 2015, he founded Mr. Washington Gallery, an online fine art gallery to offer a unique perspective of the world today. His work can be found on display at the GM Renaissance Center, Covenant House Michigan Homeless Youth Shelter, and other places across the Metro Detroit area. He has received multiple awards including Michigan Photographer of the Year and 1st place in the Belleville Area Council for the Arts Community show.
Gary’s photographs represent forgotten places, locations that were once inhabited, celebrated by people but now empty and deserted due to the fears evolving around the world.
Could you start with a brief thematic introduction to your work?
Gary: My name is Gary Washington. I’m a fine-art photographer based in Detroit, Michigan and I’ve been photographing for almost 10 years. I specialize in landscape and architecture photography with experience in the fashion, and TV/media broadcasting industry. I am genuinely drawn to adventure and I love presenting photographic scenes so, the viewer can insert themselves into the moment. I have exhibited art across the Metro Detroit area with my most notable photograph on display at the GM Renaissance Center. I also work as a freelance photographer for the French American Chamber of Commerce and other private corporate events. Right now, I have an upcoming exhibition for the 2020-2021 Mercedes-Benz Research & Development Art Exhibit. I’m really excited about creating an upcoming book from my recent travel to Malta.
What was your route to becoming a photographer?
Gary: Believe it or not, I got my start in photography shooting fashion shows. Very different from what I do now but it was a very important part of my growing process. I started as an assistant to my oldest brother who made a name for himself as a photographer in the fashion industry. We would go to dozens of fashion shows throughout the year and each time was different, exciting, and new. He taught me the fundamentals of photography and then we put it into practice. We took on new shows and projects until I was able to handle it on my own. I think a year went by when I received an offer to be a freelance photographer for a magazine. They would send me to different events and businesses to capture photographs for their “Fanfare” column. It was a great adventure, which opened many doors and it helped me to understand the business side of photography. Another year went by and I had the opportunity to travel abroad and live in Germany for 2 months. I took this time to really sharpen my skills. I was so excited I started to travel all over the place. I traveled to Italy, Spain and France. In every country I would find myself at the art museum and taking in all the information I could get. Shortly after, I began to photograph landscapes and architecture. I firmly believe my time in Europe helped me reveal my aesthetic sensibility and develop a visual language.
What is most challenging about photography for you?
Gary: Locating a good source of light is probably at the top of my list. I feel like most photographers can agree with me on this one. I’ve been in situations where I’ve scouted a venue before an event, only to find out the venue changed the lighting before the event. It’s challenging when things keep changing but I had to learn how to adapt. I had to find the best light or create my own. That’s usually how I get through it.
In your opinion, what makes photography unique as a medium?
Gary: For me, photography is another form of communication. It’s a visual language that allows me to express myself without limitations. Therefore, empowering me to go beyond the ordinary and present a unique moment that offers something more than the mere obvious or expected outcome. I am overwhelmingly intrigued when someone is able to interpret my photographs. I’ve never met this person before, yet the person is able to translate the visual language. It’s mind-blowing at times.
What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
Gary: I’m constantly inspired by my surroundings, mainly architecture and landscapes.
Lately, I’ve been drawing a ton of inspiration from the Detroit Fine Art Breakfast Club. The club is made up of a large group of talented artists, art collectors, gallery owners and curators. It inspires me to be in the same room with like-minded individuals who are all on different journeys in their careers but share the same great passion for art.
I really admire Michael Kenna’s photographic work simply because he is able to break his images down to essential elements and still able to retain his own voice. Much like Kenna you rarely see people in my imagery. However, when you do see people in my photographs I use them as symbols or figures to evoke a specific emotion I am feeling at the time.
Edward Weston who also photographed his images in a monochromatic style. He managed to use forms, lines and shapes to reflect his thoughts and feelings. I find his photographs quite remarkable. I often review his work and try to understand what it meant to him.
Josef Sudek who was able to portray his images in such a poetic way. Even though his city was severely devastated by the war he was able to focus on beautiful objects which gave him a true sense of being alive. You can easily see it throughout his pictures. I truly appreciate the strength and resilience he showed during his time.
What are you looking to explore in your photographic work?
Gary: Well, it is my analysis of how I comprehend the world around me, filtered through my travels. I explore places people may have forgotten about. Locations where they once celebrated but are now empty and deserted due to the evolving fear around the world. I tend to capture landscapes and architecture among other things to present a scene and invite the viewer in for a closer look.
What do you feel is your particular mission, or responsibility as a photographer?
Gary: I feel like my responsibility as a photographer is much like Josef Sudek and how he was able to project beauty despite the devastation and despair surrounding him.
Even though it seems like the world may be falling apart right before our eyes. I want to focus on the simplistic beauties of life which give us a true sense of being alive and harness that power through art.
There’s a lot of bad news in the world – what gives you hope?
Gary: Great question, sometimes it’s the simple things that get overlooked the most. For me, it’s as easy as being able to wake up in the morning. We live in interesting times, I feel like everyone is experiencing some type of emotional uncertainty. Years ago, I started a body of work entitled “Emotions of Strength”, at the time it was a very personal series. But now I’ve made it available to everyone. It reflects situations I found myself in time and time again. In this series, I visit or reveal my ability to deal with opposition and bounce back from difficult situations. Every time I reflect back on this series it gives me hope.
Do you have any words of advice for guys who want to become a successful freelance photographers?
Gary: Sure! One of the many keys I found to becoming a successful freelance photographer is networking. In the past I would get hired, complete the job, and go home. There’s nothing wrong with that but if you want to continue to grow and reach more people you have to go out there and meet them. It wasn’t until I decided to go to events (networking, art, etc..) outside of the jobs I was hired for that I was able to meet people who helped me gain traction and give me more opportunities in the photography industry. I would say showing up is half the battle and the other half is continuing to practice photography in challenging environments. Keep in mind, it is difficult to grow when you’re comfortable. If you can add these recommendations to your routine, growth, and success is inevitable.
How can people follow your news?
Follow me on Instagram @mr_washington__ You can also find me at Mr. Washington Gallery on Facebook or visit my website at www.mrwashingtongallery.com. Feel free to contact me and thank you for the opportunity!