Everyday we see fabulous shots taken of our favorite celebrities. If you’re like me, you get technical in your thoughts, wondering who the photographer was, the amount of time they put into the photo shoot, what the editing process was, all that! I stumbled across photographer, Michael Antonio and when I saw his work, I was shook. Shook because he has shot some of the most iconic photos I saw through my teenage years and even now! He’s photographed big names in the world of entertainment such as Stevie Boi, Lil Kim, Rasheeda (just to name a few) and took the time out of his day to speak with us to discuss how he got his start, the influence in his career, and working with icons in the industry!
Tell us about yourself. What made you want to get into the photographer world?
Well, I guess I have been in entertainment my whole life. I have always been dancing, performing, acting, and writing, I guess you could say I’ve always been artistic. With photography, I almost got into it by accident. It was something I’ve always admired because I always loved the visual part of the industry. When I was younger, I didn’t really grasp what that was. The person that made me want to get into photography was David LaChapelle. It’s funny because a lot of people that he has worked with, I have worked with now.
A lot of times people underestimate all the hard work that goes into being a full-time photographer. How do you manage your time and remain sane?
Whew! (Laughs). Oh gosh, there is a lot that goes into being a full-time photographer, especially now in 2019 when everyone thinks they’re a photographer. That’s another battle itself. I’m still learning how to manage my time (laughs). I still act, write, and produce on top of being a creative director. I wear many hats so managing my time is still something I’m learning to do. The thing that keeps me sane is almost doing exactly what I’m doing, the thing that kind of drives me insane (laughs), keeps me together to be honest.
You just did an album shoot with Lil Kim! What was it like working with such an icon?
Kim! Ahh! I love her! What’s funny is that we shot over nine years ago. We’ve been friends since then so working with her again now was a lot more relaxing because we understand each other more so it’s a lot more organic. She’s Lil Kim, I just can’t describe it (laughs). Working with her is easy, she knows exactly what she’s doing, what she wants, and she’s always clear with her vision. I love working with her.
In addition to that, you’ve worked with numerous people along your journey. Would you say that there is one person that has left a special mark on you in your career?
There is so many people that I have been fortunate to work with. I started off really young so there are just so many people I’ve been blessed to photograph or even be in the presence of. Stevie Boi is one of my great friends, he’s like a brother to me. He’s helped me so much in my career so I can’t go without acknowledging that. Without question, I would say Lil Kim as well because working with her has been a jump off for so many of the things that I am doing. I would say Lil Kim and Stevie Boi have been so influential in my career. There are so many people I could name (laughs). Everyone that I’ve worked with has left a special mark on me.
Could you offer your best advice to any aspiring photographers?
Practice, learn (because everyone is always learning), understand the industry, develop your own style, don’t try to be like anyone else, do what you do and do what you do well. That’s what you will be known for. Learn the business.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Well, I am working on various projects and they are all in different stages of development. I’m working on a documentary, I’m working on a coffee table book, I’m super excited about that. I have a few people that you all may recognize (laughs). I’m working with Stevie Boi on things and collections that will be coming up soon. I’m working on acting projects as well. I don’t want to say names yet (I know that sounds cliche) but once I can’t I’ll let you know! (Laughs).
For more on Michael Antonio, follow him on Instagram today!
All photos by Michael Antonio