(NEW YORK) Last night there was a line down West 16th Street outside of Milk Studios to get into the opening of renowned photog James Houston‘s exhibition and book launch, Natural Beauty. Laura Brown, Daphne Groeneveld, Monika Chiang, Sarika Rastogi, Kelsey Rogers, Zanna Roberts Rassi, and fiancé Brian McGrory were just a few of the natural beauties who came to the show benefiting Global Green USA. The Daily caught up with Houston before his big night to get the lowdown on his call to nature.
BY EDDIE ROCHE
Tell us about the exhibition…
What I really wanted to do was to celebrate the beauty of nature. It’s a series of images of celebrities, models, and nature shots that are all inspired by nature. It’s all about a different approach to the environment. This isn’t about scaring the sh*t out of everyone saying, ‘look what we’re losing.’ This is about celebrating the beauty that we have right now and saying ‘look at this amazing beauty, let’s celebrate that and look after it.’
Are you a nature boy?
I am! I grew up in the outback in Australia, so I guess I’ve always been connected to nature, and it plays a big part in my work. The two biggest inspirations or things I love to shoot are the human body and nature.
Where’s the most beautiful location you’ve shot at?
I think it would have to be the Slot Canyons in Arizona. They’re out in Page, Arizona and it’s just incredible. There’s one called Lower Antelope Canyon and it’s this big chasms of orange rock that are all formed by water.
Do you get nervous at opening exhibitions?
It’s a bit like flying for me. I don’t really get nervous until I sit in the plane because I’m trying to do so many things that ultimately I’m just on a roll until it comes to the night. Then I’m like holy sh*t and it’s just right in your face.
Do you have a print that you’re most proud of?
I love the work I’ve done with Christy Turlington over the years. Also the shots of Emma Watson are really amazing images because they really capture her almost becoming a woman from being a girl. Those images were really exciting to do. Emma was such a huge child actor, so to be able to work on images and ideas that were really a rebirth of her transitioning into a young woman was an interesting concept to play with.
What do you learn from working with one of the greats like Christy?
Girls at that level know their light, they know their angles, and know pretty quickly if you know what you’re doing. When it comes to Christy she knows what she wants as well, so it’s an interesting collaboration. But before I shoot any big girl there’s always going to be a bit of research done in terms of what is going to work. All the girls in the show, whether it’s Anja Rubik, Coco Rocha, Arizona Muse, they’re all massive girls on top of their game. It was a fantasy to work with girls at this level.
Who are some of the other celebs that are in the exhibition?
Adrian Grenier, who has been an amazing supporter of the project, Emma Watson, Brooke Shields, Emma Church, Christy Turlington, and then a whole range of models as well.
Are all the profits going to Global Green USA?
Because it’s a gallery, half of the money raised from print sales goes towards the gallery and then I’m giving the other half of the print sales to Global Green for the first print sold. After that, 20 percent of the other prints sold go to Global Green. They’re also getting all of the book royalties and they’re getting a percentage of the book sales, so I have a committed amount that I’m raising for them as well as $30,000 from myself.
What does Global Green do?
They work for sustainability in housing. After Katrina they came in and really wanted to work with more sustainability in rebuilding that city. They’re working now on New York as well with (organization) Solar for Sandy, in rebuilding parts of New York after the hurricane. I wanted a proactive environmental non-profit who really had their sh*t together that would support me as well. Global Green was really fantastic! They were able to come on board, raise awareness, and help me to get sponsors, like Chevy Volt.
We’ll remind our readers that that the show runs through May 5th at Milk Studios.
Milk has been one of my main partners in this project. They came on board and they supported me through the whole production. Without the help of Mazdack Rassi and the Milk team, this wouldn’t be possible.