An inspirational chat with celebrity photographer

Jonathan MannionDolce Dolce’s Melodie Rodgers interviewed Jonathan Mannion about  his love of photography and his latest project with Tanqueray’s new  project:

If photographers Gordon Parks and Annie Leibovitz had a love child, his name would be Jonathan Mannion. He has photographed such celebrities as Outkast’s Andre 3000, Hugh Hefner, and Lauryn Hill. His style is edgy and artistic. He has the unique ability to capture his subjects. Mannion has set a new standard  for how portraiture should be seen, felt, and even grieved.
As one looks at his photographs, what is apparent is the connection to an untold story. He plays with imagery, creating illusions while revealing the rawest elements of the moment. You can see this in his photos of Bernie Mac and Lance Armstrong.
If you are fan of photography or pop culture, you won’t want to miss a word of this enlightening interview with rising star Jonathan Mannion:
DD: When did photography become a passion in your life?
JM: “Well, both of my parents are painters. So, I was constantly encouraged by them to create art! My parents had me in and out of art museums a lot. In college, I took several art classes and fell in love with life drawing. This evolved into a desire to document life with a camera. I found peace in making connections with people through photography. Hip Hop culture molded me into an artist as well. I’ve been in love with every aspect of the Hip Hop movement ever since I was a little boy, so I jump at the chance to document its evolution as much as possible.”
DD: Your work has been compared to talented photographers such as GordonParks and Annie Leibovitz because of its raw themes and sincerity. Which photographers do you admire? Why? 
Lance Armstrong by Jopnathan MannionJM: Wow! I’m honored. They are brilliant! I believe, Annie Leibovitz’s Vanity Fair cover with Lance Armstrong is unbelievable. She is fearless; a necessary characteristic of an artist. My mentor, Steven Klein’s portraiture work has made profound impression on my perception of art. As his apprentice, learning business from him was like a psychology. His work with Brad Pitt and Madonna are pure genius!
DD: In 1996, you gained popularity by shooting Jay Z’s classic album “Reasonable Doubt”. How did you hear about this project? 
JM: After I decided to step away from assisting, I was searching for work and new inspiration. Through other creative connections, I had the privilege of meeting and developing a business relationship with Jay-Z. When I found out that he was in the market for a photographer, I jumped at the opportunity. So, I sent him word that I would do the project for $300 less than his lowest bidder. This project became my first major step towards my creative independence.

DD: Is there a particular place you find yourself coming back to over and over to shoot?
JM:New York! I’ve lived here for almost a decade and I feel now that I have earned the right to call myself a New Yorker. This place still amazes me all the time.
DD: Tanqueray’s new project is now one of the hottest pop culture blogs on the Internet. Tell us about your contribution to it.
JM: Coltrane Curtis introduced me to the project. He worked organically with the Tanqueray team during the development stages. Being able to collaborate with celebrities such as Hill Harper and Talib Kweli has been a valuable journey with a wealth of knowledge.
It has been quite interesting blogging on how I see the world; with artistic eyes; our readers have the privilege of following the lives of several famous creative individuals. bloggers are progressive and eclectic industry professionals. They are people who walk to the beat of their own drum.

DD: So as we slowly enter the season of spring or the season of fiestas, Dolce readers want to know: What is your entertaining style? Do you like grand fiestas, intimate cocktail parties, or a little of both?
JM: I like to keep things pretty ‘low key’ so I guess I would say intimate gatherings with friends and family. One of my favorite spots is Gabriel Stulman’s restaurant, Joseph Leonard in WestVillage. The ambience is unbelievably cozy. It is a quaint sanctuary with amazing food where I can order a Tanqueray gin and tonic and relax with the people who mean the most.