GRAY MALIN, FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHER
A year after he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment, Gray Malin decided to give photography a chance – a passion he had loved from the time he was a teenager. He interned for big photographers like David LaChapelle – and before Gray knew it, his work was creating tons of buzz… Today, his iconic beach aerials and playful prints are instantly recognizable works of art. It was only a matter of time until the jet-setting Gray Malin would grow his love of fine art into a full lifestyle brand with unique brand collaborations and limited edition travel-inspired products…
From his iconic beach aerials to his playful prints, Los-Angeles based fine art photographer Gray Malin has been around the globe and back again. It goes without saying…we needed to know more about the lifestyle brand he’s built and his drool-worthy travels that’s helped make it happen!
In an exclusive one-on-one, Gray tells us how he first came up with the idea for his beach aerials (rejection didn’t stop him!), let’s us in on the details for the most difficult shoot he’s ever done, and what it’s really like to work with wild animals in the most unexpected places!
THE FIRST SERIES
“The first series to really create buzz was Prada Marfa, a sequence of photographs I created on a whim with the assistance of the local township in Marfa, Texas. It was the art generated from this shoot that propelled me to pursue photography full time. Though it was a humbling experience, I met so many incredible people in the community and was able to display my work effectively, eventually making a name for myself.”
I was in Miami for Art Basel and asked a few of the hotels if I could shoot their pools from the roof. After being told no, I thought of the next best thing…
THE BEGINNING OF AERIALS
“My first aerial concept began on a hotel balcony with a bird’s eye view directly down on the large swimming pool below. It was packed with people laying on the sun beds and splashing in the water and I took a liking to the playful perspective, eventually snapping a few images with my camera. When I got home, I kept coming back to these images. There was just something about them! A few months later I was in Miami for Art Basel and asked a few of the hotels if I could shoot their pools from the roof. After being told no, I thought of the next best thing, a helicopter. While flying above the beaches of Miami, I began photographing the pools but quickly discovered the amazing patterns that the people and beach umbrellas created on white sand below – it was sort of like a blank canvas and my camera was the brush. Soon after I became determined to document all seven continents and I traveled to Kauai in Hawaii, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Australia, before continuing on to Europe and Africa to capture the world’s most famous beaches from above.”
One fun moment in Barcelona was I happened upon a perfectly designed movie set, I ended up capturing it, and released as Neon Umbrellas, Barcelona.
HOW HE DOES IT
“All of my aerial photography is shot from a door-less helicopter at varying levels of height and length of flight, as it depends on the restrictions as well as the weather conditions of each destination. It is such a thrill going up and having the wind against my face as I capture what's going on below. I begin to notice pops of color and shapes, which begin to form patterns that mesmerize me. It's at this point that the shoot really begins!
It’s not pre-arranged. I simply look for natural settings and what catches my eye. From above, the people with their umbrellas and towels create patterns and shapes, which are unique in that they are mere moments in time that can never be captured again. One fun moment in Barcelona was I happened upon a perfectly designed movie set, I ended up capturing it, and released as Neon Umbrellas, Barcelona.”
THE MOST DIFFICULT SHOOT
“My most recent Private Collection series, Art of Living, was a tremendous undertaking. Shot in Bora Bora, which is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the world, the concept was to create a juxtaposition of organic beauty with man made designs. To accomplish it, we worked with local engineers to build the 15 x 15 foot mirrored platform, as well as freight shipped (via airplane) all of the mid-century modern furniture utilized in the series. It was a lot of work, but the results were well worth it!”
“I absolutely love Cape Town, South Africa! It’s a fabulous country to visit as it has beautiful white sand beaches, wine country and adventurous safari experiences available all in one visit. It should be a must on anyone’s bucket list and I hope that my beach aerials from Cape Town inspire people to make the trip.
Cape View Clifton is the best place to stay in my opinion. It’s a really boutique property with incredible service, beautiful rooms and delicious food – plus it offers the absolute best views of Clifton Beach!”
A FAVORITE HOTEL
“The Parker Palm Springs is one of my favorite hotels. There's something about the beautiful hotel grounds that sparked this idea for me to do Gray Malin at The Parker and I couldn't stop thinking about it, so it's been a real thrill to see it come into creation and grow into the three installments, product extensions and inspiration to my first children’s book, Be Our Guest!”
THE INSPIRATION BEHIND BE OUR GUEST!
“The inspiration behind Be Our Guest! came from my series, Gray Malin at the Parker. As I released the collection over the course of three years, I was delighted to see how it was being used as children and nursery décor. The idea of parlaying it into a children's book quickly followed, as it felt so natural and appropriate. However, I truly think the book appeals to all ages, as it's a fun story combined with artistic photography.
Seeing children reading and enjoying it! It has been such a joy seeing the positive response to this book. I’ve literally been brought to tears seeing videos and social media shares of engaged children looking at the book. I am also proud of the fact that it is a photographic children’s book as most are illustrations.”
I love creating whimsical moments that make people stop for a second look, and there is definitely something about having an unexpected animal in a shot that delivers that.
WORKING WITH WILD ANIMALS
“Well first and foremost, I am always working with professional animal handlers, so there’s no wrangling happening on my part. As far as conceptualizing the ideas, I love creating whimsical moments that make people stop for a second look, and there is definitely something about having an unexpected animal in a shot that delivers that. I have shot animals in a few of my series, now. The Llamas & Sheep in Far Far Away, which was shot in Bolivia and then of course there is the Dream Series, where I shot a rainbow of sheep in Australia. Gray Malin at the Parker, though has been different from those first two as the scale was much larger. I have shot multiple animals in multiple locations throughout the grounds of the hotel, in the three different installments of the series. The third and final will launch in June of this year with some special new animals joining the cast! It has been incredible creating what I feel is a true story within this series. There are so many characters you get to meet, whether it's your friendly Camel Porter, Bellman Monkey or Skinny Dipping Flamingo...”
“I just completed my largest shoot to date on the grounds of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Inspired by my interpretation of Hollywood’s Golden Era, I am excited to share it with everyone in October of this year!”