May Daniels is a babe! This vegan, queer, Radical model is a self-managed creative director, photographer and muse. She is currently working on some dope new projects in the 2d and 3d realm... so we got together to talk to her about them. We sat down with May over a spliff and wine, and this was the conversation that came out of it.
We asked May where she wants to be going with her modeling, and her answer surprised us. She was clear that modeling isn't her main focus or career path, but rather one of the many mediums where she can express her creativity. She's drawn to being a creative director and for her, modeling is one way to express that need to compose a scene, or create a feeling.
“The projects that are the most gratifying, that I feel the most excited and spiritually connected to are the ones that I’ve had some say in, its been a collaboration.”
When we asked what her goal was with her creative expression, she shared that she wants to be able to produce projects that are well-funded so she can do artistically whatever she wants. She would like to feature women, women of color, trans-women, and other under-represented minorities. She believes the white-male narrative has been told too many times and is not interested in repeating it. Hell yeah! We feel the same, which is why we've set up this interview series. Women need to be heard, and this ratio of male to female photographers (and respected artists in general) needs some light shed on it.
In that vein, we started to chat about male versus female photographers. What is it like to work with one over the other? For May, when she's working with men, she notices that "there is a wall, I have to be on my guard on all times." We can understand how she feels. The Dream Queens began as a safe space to photograph each other without feeling judgement or the pressure of being a sexual object. We could just be together, we could just be real... and the result of that is the authenticity shown in the photographs. Tenderness, gentleness, and raw expression are much more present when the collaboration feels safe.
“There is this wall, I have to be on my guard at all times. Even if you’re a good guy, you never know. You can go so much further interacting or collaborating with a woman.”
Next, we asked what has been a photographer’s biggest response to her modeling. We noted that it can be quite different than how you see yourself, and were curious about her own self perception as well. She replied that she does the best modeling when she is relaxed and comfortable with herself.
"I’ve been doing this seriously for a few years now and I will still to this day have a shoot that I didn’t feel good about, and that is usually because I got way into my head or I wasn’t vibing with the photographer.”
She noted that all modeling is a learning experience. It can be learning about ourselves, it can be learning about others, it can be learning about the world.
Next we asked some about her background, and whether school has played a part in her art making.
“I have an issue conforming to the rigidity of school, I can’t fuck with it. I get really overwhelmed and discouraged and its too much every time. So I am back in, I am doing one class and already that is enough.”
But she made sure to mention that despite the rigidity, she likes school because it forces you, in a way, to produce. Because you have a deadline, you actually have to. She continued on to say, "that is my issue – I have these ideas and I may not bring them to fruition. But it’s just so daunting to me to have to turn something in before I artistically feel it is ready."
Right now she is working with different ways to bring ideas to fruition beyond the 2D realm. She is taking a metal casting class to make jewelry. We are particularly excited about her newest project, where she is building a human cocoon to work with ideas of safety, rebirth and transformation. She will do a photo series of different forms of macrame attached to people and dragging them back into nature. The cocoon will be the final one, "because I have to have a homie who is willing to get naked, get in a cocoon and be suspended from a tree," which sounds pretty dope if you ask us...
Looking forward to seeing what comes of the creative force that is May Daniels... The more you shoot with people you like, the better it gets. Stay tuned for our next Interview series!
Check her out on instagram: @may.daniels
And examples of her photography below: