One of the most provocative American Photographers of our day, Chris Maggio proves to be a true pioneer in portraying the always endearing, often funny and sometimes fucked up country that is the USA. He seems like a really nice guy but his Uber rating is a 0 - find out why.
What is your full name and how Italian are you really?
My name is Christopher Bryan Maggio and I’m not really Italian, I’m just from Long Island, NY. I have no idea what part of Italy my family is from - the only thing I know is that there’s another Maggio family on Long Island that owns a huge dumpster company. Whenever my Mom would drive our minivan behind a store in order to find more parking, we’d usually have to park near a big green dumpster that had our last name in big letters on it. My middle name is Bryan with a “Y” because my Dad wanted to name me after a hockey player on the Islanders named Bryan Trottier. My mom said “no, let’s name him Chris,” and then he just put it as my middle name.
My favorite series from your webpage are Bored on the Fourth of July, On the Other side of Liberty and Midtown Lunch. Your work is uber "american", or at least you capture that Americana vibe really well - do you get this all the time and does this work for you or against you usually?
I get that a bunch, and I’m definitely in favor of it - It’s an idea that I’m really interested in expanding. I think too many photographers falsely associate the idea of modern “Americana” with some sort of long - gone Eggleston or Shore - Like aesthetic: primary colors and big hairdos, old - timey fast food and cute billboards and stuff. At this point, we as Americans have packaged and globalized our own culture to such a large, horrifying extent that there seems to be nothing at it’s root. These days, the idea of “Americana” is a lot darker, crass and disposable.
What is your Uber rating? Explain.
My Uber rating is zero because I don’t have Uber! When I take it, my girlfriend Elena usually calls it and then I Venmo her. Sometimes I’ll pay for a normal cab and I’ll request a Venmo from her publicly. I’ve had a few friends look at my Venmo feed and they’re like “why do you ask your girlfriend to Venmo you, it’s humiliating.” Is that the rule??? Am I not abiding by some new kind of Silicon Valley chivalry? Also- why are you looking at my Venmo feed? How long have you been on the freakin’ toilet with your phone??
What is your advice on how to make a decent living as a photographer?
Lol, I’m yet to make a living at all! There are throngs of great photographers out there, and it’s a lofty expectation to think that we’re all going to be able to fully support ourselves financially by taking photos. Regardless, I think it’s important to be working constantly, always trying refine your voice and figure out where you fit into the conversation. I’m still very much working on that as I support myself through a mix of odd commissions, video editing work, and waking up at 5am to film segments for the local news.
I love that your website, http://www.chrismaggio.biz/ ends in .biz - is this for a specific reason?
Www.chrismaggio.com is taken by another photographer named Chris Maggio!! He’s a photographer in upstate New York that does some more conventional, but amazing commercial photography. On his homepage, he has a picture of a weightlifter that I really like as well as a very clean shot of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” that anyone would be happy to have hanging on their wall. He seems a little older, so his stuff has a kind of 90’s editorial flare to it. I’m pretty into it. He actually wrote me a very brief email a few years ago and said “I like your stuff”, which, from one Chris Maggio to another, was either a huge compliment or some sort of weird symbiotic narcissism.
I love your font choice for "chris maggio photo studio" .....what is it called? Please don't tell me it is called scrapbook font!
Lol, its actually a photo of some letters I bought at an arts & crafts store near my house! So it might have been for a scrapbook!
I've noticed that there is a circle in which you run - a community so to speak. Who do you consider comrades in your field?
I’ve been really fortunate to get to know a bunch of the folks who have come out of SVA in recent years: Corey Olsen, Dave Geeting, Caroline Tompkins, and Molly Matalon (who I just met IRL in LA) to name a few. Damien Maloney too. All of these people are photographers who have strong, genuine visions that really align with their personalities- and I think that’s surprisingly rare. That, and they all have top-notch senses of humor. Same with Julian Master. Daniel Arnold is someone whose writing I admire just as much as the imagery he produces. I think as a street photographer, his dexterity with language and ability to examine his own work is something that really sets him apart.
Do you have any phobias? If so, would you be willing to photograph it to get over it or them?
I would be terrified to take pictures of a tarantula. Especially if it had to be in my hand. In my hand while I took the picture. Alone in a dark room.
Pick a person, place or thing that you would NEVER consider photographing.
Milo Yiannopoulos, Santacon, and your friend’s wedding. Other than that- everything is fair game.
Images courtesy of CHRIS MAGGIO
interview ASHLEY MUNNS
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