8am with Cary Fagan

It’s 9am New York time when I call Cary Fagan. That’s 8am for him in Houston. 8am. On a Saturday. I guess whoever said success never sleeps was right because he’s ready to talk. I apologize for getting him up so early anyway. His voice is low and easy, like I had called one of my friends the morning after we had gone out, and puts me at ease to ask whatever I want.


I want to know about the girls. The majority of Fagan’s work is rooted in the beauty and intricacies of the female body. He photographs models and model friends, only occasionally breaking away to the inanimate. I ask him, why all the women? He explains that he was originally a photographer of landscapes and animals, but he wanted to try something new that he saw lots of photographers he admired doing. The end result was a new passion and direction. He finds that women have angles that give him more options to work with, and he enjoys getting to know each model. He notes that he’s still learning to shoot human forms, but I’m unable to see any amateurism in his eye-catching body of work.


In fact, it is so eye-catching that his employer, American Apparel, has taken notice. He recently was given the opportunity to do a test shoot for the brand and the result was positive, “They’ve decided to give me the opportunity to provide images for the American Apparel Texas Instagram. Which is, to me, a big deal because I’ve wanted to contribute pictures to the company for the longest time.” His first official shoot for the brand was with model Asia Dee who, as Fagan puts it, “If you’ve ever been to American Apparel, you’ve seen her face.” After viewing his portfolio, she traveled all the way to Houston just to work with him.


Grateful for that experience, Fagan would also like to travel, leaving the confines of Houston for other major cities. “There are only so many places you can find to shoot here. Other than that, everywhere you want to shoot here are hours and hours apart from each other.” Fagan finds himself frequently traveling to less populated areas to make sure his locations are unrecognizable. Space in Houston is limited, and photographers of the area tend to use the same locales. Fagan is planning trips to work with models in both Miami and New York in the upcoming months.


For now, his next shoot is being held in a Texas motel with very specific floral bedspreads. Fagan selects, reviews, and plans all of his shoots in advance. He interviews all of his models beforehand and sends them photos of where they will be shooting. “I like to create scenarios for [them], as if they’re acting,” he says, “so they can better understand what kind of mood I want.” He also sends them detailed mood boards so they can assemble appropriate wardrobes.


Fagan primarily shoots on film and enjoys working with natural light, using only digital to warm up and make his models comfortable. “I think film picks up the lighting so much better than digital. I choose film because I love faded colors, and everything’s not so perfect. With digital, it’s going to be close to perfect, and you can just edit it to your liking. But with film, you create that with your settings.”


Fagan looks to explore and expand his portfolio, finding new models and locations to shoot. I ask him about editorials and if he’d shoot one upon request, and he tells me, “As a photographer I only want to be versatile. And I want to be able to do anything.”





Camera Collection:

Nikon S3 aka Thundercat

Contax P2 aka (Undecided.)

Konica Hexar AF aka Saidee


Favorite Camera:



Inspiration Outside of Photography:


Dialogue and narration from foreign films.



Music Recently Played During Shoots:



Bob Dylan.


This Year’s Goals:

Publish his first photo book.

Launch his own gallery.


Four Fun Facts:

Plays the saxophone.

Wants to learn French. Loves French poetry.

Writes movie scripts and listens to movie scores.

Loves coding and believes it is the language of the future. Coded some of his own site.

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