Photo Story 1: "Back for the First Time" by Jonathan Mannion

In honor of our next Milk Gallery exhibition, ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES the 665 Polaroid Work of Jonathan Mannion, we bring you our latest Milk Made Photo Story installment titled, "Back for the First Time". In this story, Mannion tells us about the first time he met and shot Ludacris, who, at the time, was in the beginning stages of his career.

"I’ve always said that the old version of today’s digital photography was the 665 Polaroid. The rhythm of shooting a 665 during the session served as a way to keep my subjects involved in the creative process, to comfort the artists & clients when they saw a great photo produced, and to allow us to track the types of images that we were creating to tell the full story of the day. In rare cases we would actually land on “THE” image that would define the day and become the album cover. Here is a story where my Polaroid 195 Land Camera produced that hero image.

On this incredibly humid day in Atlanta, I was commissioned by Def Jam to shoot a new artist named Ludacris. I was aware of the major success that he was having as a radio DJ but wasn’t totally prepared for the incredible album that he had lined up for the world to enjoy. I was given a silver CD the day before the shoot with the handwritten name “Incognegro” (what I understood to be a tentative title) on it that ended up being my own private listening party of the album as I scouted locations in the rental car. Luda’s delivery and tracks were relentless and captivating. Living with this CD for 24 hours made me understand that I could push the borders out visually in order to interpret and capitalize on the energy I heard.

The primary area that we focused on was a strip of 139 SOUTH that had a tattoo parlor, a bunch of abandoned stores with these crazy ramps and a public park with a beautiful mosaic tile wall. This would serve as our home base for the day. As the shoot was progressing, I noticed a doorway that had a great texture and knew this would give me the ability to create an environment where I could run through a number of poses with Luda. It was a humble moment where we could achieve a truly classic set of portraits. The natural daylight was beautiful and I knew that my 195 Land Camera would give the scenario a rough edge while allowing the image to remain clean and totally focused on him. Because of its simplicity this particular Polaroid, which became the cover of the album, is one of my favorite 665 images that I shot that day. I feel like I captured the real Chris Bridges in that moment. Another incredible image that solidified the title of the show also has great energy and is unique in the rough decay of the negative itself will be seen at my exhibition “ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES” on JUNE 18, 2013." – Jonathan Mannion

Join us for the opening reception at Milk Gallery Tuesday, June 18th – RSVP information coming soon. The exhibition is on display June 19th through July 5th.

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