words Zarah Cheng
All images are from Morgan Young's portfolio.
You know that party that everyone is talking about? Where Theo and Sarah hooked up? And then Paige and Reagan took off all their clothes? Yeah, we forgot to take photos too. But Morgan Young didn’t. The West Coast photographer may take a lot of photos at parties, but she sure as hell won’t let herself be pigeonholed into being an event photographer. Although many of her most fascinating images seem to be documentation of the debauchery of “kids these days”, her film-based photography goes much deeper than that. Seeing beyond the superficiality of party fun, Morgan Young is more concerned about exploring the relationship between the camera and subject, no matter what the setting.
Where are you from?
I am originally from New Jersey, but have been living on the West Coast for a couple of years now.
Favourite camera to shoot with?
When I was younger, I fell in love with sites like The Cobrasnake and Last Night’s Party. I emailed Mark Hunter at some point asking what camera he used, and he told me it was a secret, or something like that. It just stuck with me, so I like to be discreet. I’m something of a camera hoarder though, I gave up digital a while ago and now I shoot film.
How would you describe your pictures?
Maybe candid? Tough question. I really enjoy pictures of faces and people engaging with the camera. At some point I heard that people, even babies, respond to faces. I think taking a picture of someone that allows you to see their eyes is important because eyes can tell you so much about a person. I know that I take a lot of photos of people at parties but I would hate to be labeled an event photographer – I hope that there is something deeper than that. And I think that it is important to realize that being out in some pretty “party” setting does not always mean that you’re happy or truly having fun. That would be too superficial.
How do you select subjects for your portrait photographs?
Whoever is the most patient with me while I try to think of ideas and work out camera malfunctions is generally my best subject. I shoot my friends. I would love to branch out, but friends are easy because they are comfortable with you… I don’t think that they necessarily forget that I am wielding a camera, but they are great subjects as they get more comfortable and are accustomed to the perpetual pictures. My best friend Annie is particularly fun to shoot. We just play around - we’ll be sitting in the kitchen and wondering what will look cool lit on fire or something.
I love the bizarreness of your Wigging Out album. Where did the idea for this series come from?
Post-Halloween shenanigans. One of my friends got very into dressing up for the holiday this year and had a couple of wigs from different costumes. I happened to find them in one of her drawers and just got carried away hanging them around her house.
What does debauchery mean to you?
Currently – kids – well, I guess they’re not really kids anymore, doing things that would make their parents freak out and letting me take pictures of it. I don’t feel like I see anything that crazy though… Will have to come back to this one.
Describe the perfect party.
The more fun that I have at the party, the more I generally like the pictures when I develop them. I’m big on approachable people, loud music and finding quiet spaces at whatever event I’m at. I find that if I can verbalize what I want in a photo, people are pretty flexible and agreeable about having their pictures taken, even if I’m asking them to do something that they think is weird. It’s cool when everyone feels like they are involved in making something.
If you could pick anyone to photograph, dead or alive, who would it be?
This is too tough a question and I know I am going to regret my answer no matter what I say, but I love 90’s Fiona Apple – like straight from her “Criminal” video. That could be cool.
Who are you listening to right now?
I might be going through a phase, but I have been listening to The Cranberries and The Smiths on rotation for a few weeks now.
What creeps you out the most?
All bugs, people who lick their fingers at meal times, and any act of violence.
Posted on January 12, 2015