When Footaction, a national retailer of athletic-inspired footwear and apparel, asked local analog photographer Cary Fagan to represent Houston as a creative director of its 'No One Way' campaign, it wasn't his big break. Fagan had already worked alongside musicians as famous and pathbreaking as Solange and Kanye West. But that didn't stop him from tackling the brand's fall look book—available now in stores and online—and showcasing bold, individual style in and around Houston.
You can catch the artist at a special pop-up and Q&A session this Friday, August 24, from 4 to 7 p.m., but we chatted with Fagan in advance to learn about his background and what this campaign means to him.
Can you tell us more about the 'No One Way' campaign?
There’s no one way to create your path, your own journey. There’s a lot of people today asking, how do you get there? How do you become successful? How do you become happy? There's really no way to explain how you get to that point; it's just the act of doing and the repetition. This campaign has a good message to the consumer especially for back-to-school and the challenges within school [such as] testing and responsibilities. It sends a positive message to the student.
What does this campaign mean to you?
There are no boundaries; there's no one way to do something and achieve it. There are many ways to achieve something you're passionate about.
What does it mean for you to represent Houston as a creative director in this campaign?
I'm honored. This is big; it's a challenge. I think I did a great job. I think the team and I did a great job, especially with the photoshoot. There's also a playlist coming out. I think it represents Houston very well—the lifestyle and the culture. I also think Houston will enjoy this event coming up.
A statement said you are 'driving what's next in men's style through the youth and hip-hop culture that shapes it.' How are you driving what's next through this campaign and the looks you put together?
It's important to have that one uniform you can wear more than one day—your go-to outfit you feel comfortable in. I don't think there's a certain way to dress in today's culture; as long as you are comfortable, you can do anything.
What looks and feel do you aim for when photographing?
I always gravitate to the natural look. Very simple—no makeup, natural setting, candid, on the spot.
What does a natural setting look like?
Everyday. Where I'm standing right now, there's a bench in front of me, there's a backdrop of the house I would shoot on; it can happen anywhere.
What are your thoughts on the recent Vogue cover being shot by a photographer hand-picked by Beyoncé?
I think [Tyler Mitchell, the first black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover] did a great job. Personally, there's an image I would have loved to see as the cover; it's the image where she was standing with a backdrop behind her, wearing a Wales Bonner suit, the one with the light pink drapes.
I really like the natural lighting and the colors. They flow very well. I really enjoy the palette.
You were hand-picked by Kanye West to shoot the Yeezy Season 3 show in Madison Square Garden in New York City, and most recently, you shot A$AP Rocky's latest album, Testing. What do you think, coming from Houston, that shows to other creatives that you don't have to go to New York City, Los Angeles, or Miami to 'make' it?
It's funny you ask that. I've had a few conversations with creatives that live here recently and from what they tell me, Houston is very clique-ish and competition-based, so it drives creatives to want to leave Houston because there's no tension and there's no help for that creative who wants to move up.
There's a struggle for those who want to move up in their career. That's why everyone wants to leave to go to New York and LA. Houston really needs to work together. There are many unique people that I'm meeting to this day that are doing things we don't know about. We need to come together more and have these events. There should be an opportunity to be yourself and with the event coming up will be a great example. We're going to see people we've never seen before in Houston because this event is attainable, for the public, and something that has never been done before.
An interactive experience will be held this Friday, August 24 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Memorial City Mall (303 Memorial City Way, Houston, TX 77024) featuring a curated pop-up studio, back-to-school giveaway, and a special Q&A with Fagan himself.