Rachel Steeden

Rachel Steeden

Our Rachel interviews top photographer Damian McGillycuddy

I have been lucky enough to be shot through the eyes of Damian and he continues to work alongside with Models Of Diversity. I took the opportunity to interview the man himself for MoD. Here's his views on diversity.

With a career spanning over 30 years and working in the industry and winning a very impressive 670 awards what would you say has contributed to such a high level of success?
Being disabled! I've always felt second class so I guess I over compensated. In myself I felt I had to be several degrees better just to be viewed as an equal within our industry and sadly despite 12 photographer of the year titles I still feel there is a discrimination.
How did you first start your career as a photographer?
I got kicked out of art school so in my absolute immature naivety thought “I'll show em” and decided at 16 to set up on my own. Kicked out maybe too strong a statement. I was doing fine art and my tutor saw I had a little talent and a load of passion for photography so endeavoured to get me transferred to Mid Cheshire college of art and design. The head of faculty rejected me based on her belief that my disability would make me incapable of being a photographer. Sid, my tutor at North Cheshire was so convinced I'd make the grade he hadn't submitted my name for the next year at north, so very simply I had the choice of spin my wheels for a year or go off and do something else and stupidly I went off and set up in work.
Has this always been a passion of yours?
Yes, since about 10 years old. My uncle Brian was a very keen photographer, still is, and I used to go out and shoot with him. Its him who taught me how a camera worked. Back then being a photographer was still “Rock n roll” so of course I wanted to be a photographer, jet set lifestyle, fast cars and beautiful women, who wouldn't… I sometimes wonder what went wrong!
I was lucky enough to meet you at a Models Of Diversity shoot which you delivered amazing images for, how did you first get involved with Models Of Diversity?
That's a really good question, I'm not 100% certain. Somebody else I was working with was involved at one stage and they must have put me on the MoD radar, I had two long telephone conversations with Angel and then I was fortunate enough to be invited to meet her, we met in Manchester and, as they say, the rest is history!
Tell us about your time shooting with Models Of Diversity and what do you think about Angel Sinclair's campaign.
Angel quite simply is a dynamic force of nature. Her boundless energy and incredible drive never cease to amaze me. People from diverse corners of society have no better advocate than Angel, I support what she is achieving 100%
What are your views on diversity in the fashion industry both behind and in front of the camera?
In front of the camera slowly, slowly things are indeed changing as the industry seems to be opening its doors to diversification, that in the main I believe is down to the efforts of Angel Sinclair.
Do you feel the fashion industry is becoming more inclusive with regards of the models being used in campaigns?
Yes, but maybe not quickly enough. I'd like to see a greater degree of diversification in the industry and I'd like to see it happen at a faster pace, I feel that the momentum is growing and that we should all keep pushing and striving for what we want.
There are around 11.9 million disabled people in the U.K. Thats around 1 in 5 people with a disability. Why do you think the fashion industry are still ignoring these consumers? Fashion is for all!
I agree that fashion is for all and I can't say empirically why so many are being ignored but I have two theories.
Firstly, as horrible as it sounds, I believe there are some who won't want “people like us” spoiling their “beautiful world”.
Secondly and probably more accurately I guess its down to pure economics and in the terms of pure hard cash, unfortunately, we are still a niche market.
The truth is though they are just my heart felt personal opinions… I'm just guessing I'm not educated enough or involved deep enough in the industry to have decent perspective on the question… sorry if that sound like a cop out but I'm just being honest.
Thanks your insights Damian!

Damian McGillycuddy

Damian McGillycuddy