Bolton-bred photographer Michael Mayren exposes the raw style of local youth in anonymous Mancunian haunts. In contrast with the deep post-industrial textures provided by the city’s derelict architectural frame, Mayren opts for simplicity. Self-described as ‘not a technical photographer’, he explains his process simply as a way to let others see the world through his eyes. For him, it’s about making an honest connection with his subjects alongside telling a story.
I’m drawn to people with passion and determination to get somewhere in life. People who want to make something out of nothing. Whether it be music, sport or just the drive to get by day to day
The photographer here explains how he captures the lives of “lads who don’t have jobs but stay positive”. His recent series, ‘CHAV’, documents young working class men, bypassing stereotypes pushed by the media. While Mayren’s commercial work portrays a characteristic dreamy haziness, his self-directed photographs reflect sensitivity as he captures boys head-hunted on the street or at the boxing gym. Soft-spoken, the photographer tells us about his current work and explains how he selects his subjects.
Dazed Digital: Why do you take photographs of working class young men?
Michael Mayren: I don’t consciously look for working class boys as subjects. I’m drawn to people with passion and determination to get somewhere in life. People who want to make something out of nothing. Whether it be music, sport or just the drive to get by day to day. I suppose it’s all part of having a common ground and understanding my subjects.
Being working class myself, growing up on a council estate in Bolton, it frustrates me to see the way that the media and press portray the British youth. I want to change peoples’ opinions of working class boys by capturing a softer side or an insight to parts of their life that aren’t generally seen.
DD: How do you cast your subjects?
Michael Mayren: For personal work, my subject’s story is the most important thing. So for my current project, for example, I’ve been meeting people in local boxing gyms and getting to know them a little before shooting. I’m focusing more on the psychological side of the sport, recording the boys stories and learning why they box. For fashion stories I prefer to street cast, again, some depth to their personality is important and someone I can get a good connection with.
DD: You rarely photograph females. Why do you prefer to shoot boys?
Michael Mayren: Familiarity is really important to be able to create an honest photograph. Again, it hasn’t really been a conscious decision.
DD: Where can we see your work?
Michael Mayren: I have regular features in a few fashion magazines: Dazed, Hero, ILOVEFAKE. My boxing project is still early days but will hopefully be put together as a book and exhibition by early next year.