"Creativity is something that happens over time rather than overnight" these words by Hanif Castle reflect his visually stimulating and mind marvelling work and it just gives the viewer that positive knack to your morning Instagram feed. Better known as 'NeefCastle', he embodies the mind and soul of a hard worker, a go-getter and dare I say an influencer.
Having the opportunity to interview this 25 year-old NYC based photographer and creative director was such a pleasure and a blessing - I have been one of the very 'stalk-ative' followers of Hanif Castle seeing as the images he captures just puts that smile on my face (think of your early morning coffee and how it gives you life).
I hope this sweet, quick and informative feature piece will not just entertain but inspire the young creative minds out there.
How would you describe yourself to your viewers as well as fellow creatives? Would you say you are one and the same with your work?
It's tough to put into a few words, but it's easy to say that I'm an artist. For the young creatives, it is much easier to adapt with since so many people have various talents. As far as being the same with my work, it's difficult too due to phases I go through with creating. For example, my editorial work may not reflect the same feel as my personal work.
As a creative director and photographer, would you say as part of the job description you pay attention to minute detail? i.e “That spilled black coffee splayed on the hand cut oak table”
I would say that it is essential. I feel like the finer things are usually the smallest or mundane. It's a bit of a system I use when giving attention to detail and it's with layers. There's a focus of one small thing in an image, and then I may add things around it to sort of make everything else either a distraction or a clue to give life to that one small subject/ object. Or it can be surrounded by "nothingness". And spilled coffee makes me sad haha
Following up on my previous question; Do your images exude pieces of you as a person? i.e locality, art, fashion, architecture...
There is always some piece of myself in my work and I'm able to reflect what it was again from the different phases I've been through with it. Whether it's hiding my subjects face, showing an empty gallery space, or portrait close-ups, all of these images reflect my feelings and or thoughts of myself through the work. I can see when I was depressed, excited, regretful, joyful, etc. and others may just see beautiful images. I do feel though that some artists are able to see the emotion of the artist in the photo.
With over 2,000 followers on Instagram, what do you think about the impact social media [in this day and age] has on you and your work? Any positives or negatives?
Social media is a gift and a curse as cliché as it sounds. It's a big help in working with others because they can find my work there, and it's also a place of such vast creation where you can get lost in the vortex that I like to call media masturbation. I appreciate those who use it for business or for creating a community of people they like and want to create with, that goes to show it's a gateway to a world of people that are just like you. It also shows me how much of the photo world is changing and bringing "average" artists to a stage they're free to create. But everything in the creative world somehow ties back to social media, so it is very important. A gift and curse :)
As we know, anyone in the creative industry/media industry is or has struggled to get to a position where they are recognised as different. What is your take on this? Do you think you are different and why?
My honest belief of the industry is for agencies and other places to please their clients. Not all, but most magazine editorials and designer campaigns are platforms meant to sell something rather than learn something, so to me it is quite problematic in a sense of being different. But if being different means being yourself, or staying true to the style of imagery that you really love, you will realize how different you really are no matter how much you may be put into a box for selling something. I believe I'm different mainly because of my approach to photography. I usually try to use my intuition with shooting. I come with an open mind and ideas I've used in the past. Of course not with commissioned work, but with shooting any and everything else. People are surprised sometimes how relaxed I can be on a set of several people and I don't have much to refer to but that of the sun or things around me.
Lastly, where do you see yourself in the next decade? Do you think the path you have chosen is one that will be a continuous process or one where you see yourself content with where you will reach?In the next decade, I just hope to still have a camera in my hand. Knowing that I will be going through so many more phases, it's just pleasing to think about how one will get better and being able to re-master the things I learned about photography on a different platform. I think that it will be a bit of both. I'm quite content with the path of creation I've chosen, but I always have this drive to want more from it and want more from myself to give to people. I have a mission now to show people the world we live in from the beauty to the ugly, but I always want to share this process along the way with those who are just like me so it will never die. The drive to create more and create with more rigor isn't just a goal, it's a feeling. It's my duty to myself.