Birds of prey fly the coop to land in the slender arms of Ryan McGinley’s muses as Edun enlist photography’s golden boy once again to shoot their Fall 2012 campaign.
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This time, swapping butterflies for birds, New York’s naked photographer brings back his Beautiful Rebels to sing the praises of Bono and Ali Hewson’s eco-friendly, sustainable fashion brand Edun. Heavy navy knits, tartan tees and fresh young faces elude the scratches of four owls and a peregrine falcon as McGinley captures split seconds of spontaneous playfulness between man and beast. In keeping with Edun’s promotion of positive change in Africa, the indigenous birds, symbols of wisdom and knowledge, are snapped wild-eyed against a hazy sunset backdrop, or mid-flight and raw, perfectly comfortable within McGinley’s aesthetic, where rules of gravity don’t usually apply and wildlife is always welcome.
Here, we ask the photographer a few innocent questions about the birds and the bees…
The new Edun campaign takes inspiration from your previous series, Animals, what was it about this project that made you want to go there again? I always loved working with animals as it is a complete challenge. They are animals after all, if they are trained or not it doesn’t matter – they do what they want to, it’s chaos. This organised chaos is a general theme I’m interested in exploring.
You’ve moved on from butterflies to birds, was this a natural progression or was there a reason for choosing birds to co-star in this campaign? I love to be surrounded by wild and unpredictable creatures. I decided to work with birds as they are really beautiful but at the same time you always have a little sense of danger because they are much larger and more powerful than you might think.
Did anything amusing happen on set? Was it difficult getting the birds to do what you wanted? The birds occasionally would fly away from the set and we would all just have to be patient and wait for them to return to work.
If you were an animal what would you be? Spider Monkey
You’re known for photographing nude figures. Was it hard to achieve the same aesthetic with clothed models in a studio? Not at all. I published a book and did an exhibition of nude studio portraits three years ago and it has been a big part of my work ever since. I love the simplicty and purity in the way the studio strips away the context and it becomes all about interacting with the model, finding the emotion and gesture.
What’s the best thing about being naked? Freedom