Mike Figgis Unleashed

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From left: Figgis with designer Andy Spade and GQ's style guy Glenn O'Brien
From left: Figgis with designer Andy Spade and GQ's style guy Glenn O'Brien
Last month, Mike Figgis, director of cult classics like Leaving Las Vegas and Timecode—and now, partner at creative production boutique Direkt:Art, with Stink's Daniel Bergmann and Andrea Marcucci—took to the streets of New York for Soho Composites #2, part two of a continuing photography project that he started last year in London's Soho District with The Photographers' Gallery. The exhibit debuted at Manhattan's MILK Gallery and featured Figgis' portraits of N.Y. denizens—some famous, and others, not so much. Here, Figgis discusses his intentions behind the project and shares some of his favorite images.

About the show—I worked up until the last minute, still shooting and hanging and I was reluctant to exit back to London—I felt I was just getting into something and if I'd had more time it could only get better and more interesting. What I loved was the fact that I really didn't know the scene or who most of the sitters were . . . until after I took the portraits. Also there was a time limit so each sitter had a small time slot allocated. I had to jump in and confront each face and try to get a good picture. I'd done this set up a couple of times previously, once in Cannes, once in Poland at a film festival and once in Soho, London. Each time the feeling was different and each time some kind of sense of place and time emerged. Which is why I love doing this. Someone asked me on the last day, "What is your favorite picture?" and I thought hard about it before answering, "I love the room, filled with portraits of people." I heard a few comments that this was a good portrait of N.Y. right now. I hope this is true. In fact it is a small slice of N.Y. but like I said, I needed more time.

Mark Ronson (music producer)—It was tricky to shoot in the Prada store. The interior architecture is very strong and the lighting is mixed. I was pleased with this portrait. Like many of the sitters, Mark Ronson came with a strong sense of his own style.

Woman in the Prada store—seemed to say something about something. I like the pose.

This is a composite of many images taken in an old garage in SoHo. The manager let me shoot but it had to be really quick, before the next customer arrived. I like making these composite images, they allow for a lot of creative freedom and represent for me what is cool about digital image making.

John McNeil (musician)—As soon as I met John, a man I'd admired from afar, I was in a Blue Note flashback. Available light from the window of the Mercer Hotel.

Rachel Weisz (actress)– I really wanted to place the time I was doing all of this in N.Y.—it was an amazing week for news with the plane landing in the Hudson and the new President. I've been trying to photograph Rachel for some time. I'm a fan.

Leelee Sobieski (actress)– Amazing face, strong presence.
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