MICHAEL THORNBURG

AGE:  24

OCCUPATION: High school teacher

SCHOOL: The Ohio State University (Graduate School)

BIRTHPLACE: Shelby, NC

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Q: What do you like to depict in your photos the most?
A: Feelings. I want my photos to elicit feelings in whoever is looking at them, whether that’s confidence, sadness, or happiness. I want my photos to make you feel.
Q: What inspires your art?
A: The people around me. I constantly surround myself with people who inspire and push me as an artist and as a person.  If it wasn’t for the people around me and the people I’ve met through photography, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I honestly don’t know if I would still be taking photos if it wasn’t for them.
Q: What purpose does art serve for you?
A: The art form of photography allows me to to share my unique perspective of the world with others. Art is my way of escaping the common reality and creating my own.
Q: What are your favorite things to photograph?
A: People. I firmly believe my relationships with people are the only things that truly matter in my life. Without those, I, my art, and my work would serve no purpose.  Therefore, I love photographing people, listening to their experiences, and capturing specific moments in time.
Q: What are your future goals and aspirations?
A: My main goal is to become a public high school principal and positively change the education system as we know it. As for photography, I don’t have an end goal, because I feel that would limit me. My goal is to constantly improve as a photographer and videographer. By doing so, hopefully some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities will open up. Basically, my life goal in every aspect of my life is to spread positivity, love, and good art.
Q: What is your favorite thing about summer?
A: Being outside and enjoying the amazing weather. I’m from North Carolina where there is good weather year around, even in the winter usually. I’m still getting used to the whole winter thing. Also, since I’m a high school teacher, I get summers off of work which allows me to solely focus on my art for a while.
Q: Who is your favorite artist? Why?
A: Besides from my good friends, mostly all of my artistic inspiration comes from music.  Kanye West is the person who has artistically inspired me the most, and his music got me through depression in middle school. Whether you love or hate the man, you can’t deny that he is a musical genius and visionary. Other than Kanye, Kendrick Lamar is probably my biggest inspiration at the moment.
Q: What do you want to communicate through your art?
A: The same as what I like to depict in my photos – feelings. I want people to feel, because to feel is to be alive, and being alive is such a wonderful thing.
Q: Describe your work in 3 words.
A: Modern retro emotion.
Q: How has photography impacted your life?
A: Photography allows me to have an outlet for my emotions and perspectives that words cannot capture. It’s introduced me to so many amazing people. Many of my great friends are photographers or models that I’ve met, and each person I’ve met or worked with has inspired me to be an all around better human. I will never be able to give them enough thanks for that.
Q: What is the most creative thing you have ever done?
A: Oh gosh, this is a tough question. If I had to pick one, I would say that it was the water shoot I did with Sydney.  She had this idea of a waterfall and water shots which then inspired me to capture this series I call “drowning.” I think that it’s my most powerful and creative series yet.
Q: What would they serve you at your ideal summer cookout?
A: North Carolina BBQ, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, and watermelon. They can serve more, but I’ll probably eat about 5 plates of that alone.
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Interview by: Khrystian McCalister