From Housing Projects to High Fashion Photography
Izack Morales is a fashion photographer and a visual storyteller from Mexico City. His frames are set in a cinematographic way starting from the composition beautifully continuing with the story of his character and the motives for her actions to the lighting.
The shutter obstructs the flow of motion and seizes the moment revealing a part of the unfolding narrative. Izack’s background is strongly established on cinematography from the studies and experience in the industry, however, not until moving to London, he discovered his love for fashion photography.
Izack speaks about his roots and how living in a housing project neighborhood has shaped his values as a grown-up. He tells about his childhood, the way the cultural aspect and knowledge of diverse people add to his travels when working across European countries. We hear about the harsh food poisoning during the shoot for InStyle, the love for fashion designers like Margiela, and the passion for films (with a dedicated list of must-sees). Discover what is the only secret Izack is still not ready to tell.
‘I MOVED TO LONDON TO STUDY AND CLEAR MY MIND, THAT’S WHEN I STARTED GETTING INSPIRATION FROM THE CITY AND MEETING PEOPLE FROM THE FASHION INDUSTRY THAT GAVE ME MY FIRST INTRODUCTION TO WHAT FASHION AND STYLE ARE’
Hi Izack, how did you start your day today?
Very well, love my house in Mexico City, listening to musicians playing in the morning and lots of light coming through the window, my girlfriend is in town so even better.
Tell about yourself and what drove you towards photography, what were the main motivators to start photographing and doing it till this day?
In my case, it's a bit complex. In my process, I studied Media and Arts, and then I specialized to become a cinematographer. I did it for 4 years, and then I started to feel a bit stuck in that part of my life. I was the tool for the directors I was working with, and I needed something different. It got to the point I moved to London to study and clear my mind, that’s when I started getting inspiration from the city and meeting people from the fashion industry that gave me my first introduction to what fashion and style are.
‘I LOVE TO SOMETIMES NOT GET THINGS RIGHT, WITH THE IMPERFECTION, AND ALL THE POSSIBILITIES THAT IT BRINGS INTO MY WORK’
I was never close to this, but I started to learn quickly and started loving it. They showed me photographers like Tim Walker that made me feel like I could apply my knowledge in filmmaking to bring it to Fashion photography. That is how everything started. For me, it's always about the stories, because of my background, the technical part has never been my main thing. I love to sometimes not get things right, with the imperfection, and all the possibilities that it brings into my work.
‘I DID GROW AS A PROPER KID, GETTING DIRTY, PLAYING ALL DAY, CREATING THINGS MYSELF, HAVING A LACK OF MONEY’
How would you describe your childhood in Mexico? What were your favorite places you found your chill at?
Born in Puebla city but moved to Guadalajara when I was 5. I pretty much grew up in Guadalajara. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence in a humble neighborhood, I think in English you call this kind of areas, housing projects.
I didn’t grow up surrounded by art or luxuries, but definitely, I did grow as a proper kid, getting dirty, playing all day, creating things myself, having a lack of money. I always dreamed of traveling but didn’t know then what exactly I wanted to be. Living in the housing projects, you have so many kids you can play all the time with and share the goods and the bads.
I've been always lucky to have parents with a lot of vision, teaching me not to lose track of my way. That is the best I could ever ask for.
This made me realize that where people see a problem, I see an opportunity.
Was not an easy childhood in that way, but now I appreciate so much my roots, and the person I am.
One of my favorite places I used to go away with my high school friends is a little town called Tapalpa in Jalisco state. Giant rocks in the countryside make me always think that I'm in a magical paradise.
How is living in Europe for almost ten years now is different for you in terms of people, culture, approach to work, and opportunities available?
In this case, I haven’t lived in Europe for that long, always coming and going, the longest was during my studies in London and then in different places around Europe after that. I always loved to spend time in the big cities because of all the creative minds you can meet, vibrant life, and in this case, interesting models to shoot. I also love to go to the smallest cities and towns because normally there you find the coolest locations to shoot.
Work, is all about collaborations to me, creating stories and telling people to be part of what I have in my mind. The fact that I have my own culture will always help. I mix it with people anywhere I am, creating a special bond.
As a cinematographer, you approach the fashion shoots with a rich perspective and the experience you bring from this world by telling a story with photos. Tell about the merge it helps you create.
As I mentioned before, the fact that I learned during my process to be a storyteller in filmmaking made me see things differently. I always need someone that connects the shoots I’m doing, it can’t be just a model with clothes, it has to be something more, something that gives life to it even if I’m the only one that knows it. Even when I’m shooting a commercial project and the client just wants something simple without meaning, in my head, I create a story of what is happening in the picture, in that way I keep myself motivated doing what I love. Also, the way I frame things in front of my lens comes many times from studying cinematography. The composition is what sometimes tells you what to look closer to or pay more attention to if that makes sense.
What excites you the most about fashion photography? Who are the designers that in your opinion that bring forward a different vision and change the ordinary?
Personally, most of the times I'm more attracted to the Japanese aesthetics, layers, monochromatic things but in my photography all depends on the story, my team and I are trying to tell.
I love Margiela, Saint Laurent, Yamamoto, and then Gucci on the other hand.
Also, I love how designers like Iris Van Herpen and Craig Green are breaking the mold doing amazing things.
One of the things that I love about fashion is that there are no limits to whatever you want to create, everything is so flexible, and the only thing that could have a limit is in yourself.
What was the most challenging shoot you have worked on? How did you manage the difficulties?
I think one of the most difficult shoots I’ve done lately is the one for InStyle, the Motel story, because I got food poisoning that same day of the shoot, so all the shoot I was feeling like I would die haha. It was painful, and I was throwing up a lot. It was so long since I wanted to shoot this story that even if I felt I would not make it I put all my strength and I made it finishing all the looks to complete the shoot, 5 am to 7 pm not stopping, sometimes waiting to get the best lighting. Also, I saw the love and effort that my team put in this job that I couldn’t just say I can’t do it anymore.
Other stories have also been quite difficult to make them happen, but most of the times it's because of the time constraints or something gets broken or we don’t get the clothes on time, and we have to improvise. Overall the love for what I do is how I manage the difficulties. Starting with very low budget projects made me very good at improvising, becoming a fast thinker, and gave me a lot of patience in handling things.
Name the three best films of all time. Why do you choose those?
1. Great Expectations by Alfonso Cuaron
(I heard is the film he likes the less) but for me, I always feel like little Finn. I love the green color palette in each shot of the movie and the soundtrack.
2. Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu
The rawness of the characters and the amazing work of Emmanuel Lubezki (Chivo), (a cinematographer), made me fall in love over and over, reminding why it's so important to challenge yourself in each step of the way to become the best version of yourself.
3. Léon: the Professional by Luc Besson
I love this idea of two lost souls that shouldn’t have met, and they find each other. The loneliness and the masks each one has, shows everybody is looking for something and someone to love.
A Clockwork Orange
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Too difficult to choose only 3 haha!
The fashion story you shot for InStyle Magazine this summer shows through a cinematographic prism a film-like series of shots depicting two girls coming into the motel and preparing for some business. Could you describe the story and the initial idea you had?
The original idea for this story was a tribute to Thelma and Louise if Sofia Coppola was the director of the movie, like a kind of inspiration. Strong women with a twist of romanticism.
You have several videos like the Elle Cover Story you worked on. Do you think you might be working on more video projects in the future? What are your plans in this sphere?
Indeed, just did one a couple of days ago for another magazine. Filmmaking is always gonna be a part of me, mostly I do it more as something spontaneous. I’m not that much into fiction anymore, but making little films for a fashion story is always fun to do.
At the moment, I’m preparing myself for my next adventure, moving to another city, creating more cool stuff, and keep doing what I love. (I can’t tell just yet where I’m moving, but you will see soon).