Hailing from East London, Gary Lashmar (aka Marshal Gray) isn’t afraid to be afraid - and he isn’t afraid to break the molds defining photography, and being a photographer. He’s open, humble and candid - a true “WYSIWYG”! Gary gained insight at the young age of 28 - after holding positions ranging from construction to computer graphics. He decided that living the ‘ordinary’ life society expects from us wasn’t for him. Now he travels the world to photograph weddings, and teaches (and challenges) those who ‘“Dare” to be different’. His work, commercial and personal, especially his street photography, is the proof of Gary’s passion in life, his unique point of view and approach to life - a style that he alone defines - and he shoots from his heart.
1. What do making images mean to you?
It’s the thing that I love to do most. (Well - almost) :) I have never take for granted the magic of photography. The way I see it, being able to freeze a moment in time, in a little rectangle box is actual real magic.
2. What is life to you? What it should be?
My purpose in life is to wake up. What I have seen is that mostly we are asleep, we live our life through a kind of filter of perception, we label everything that comes into our awareness, and as a consequence we do not see what is actually going on. We are in a trance. We live in the matrix so to speak. The purpose for my life, which completely spills into my photography, is to wake up from that trance. Everything else in my life is secondary - it has to be. When I’m awake and living my life fully - everyone benefits.
3. There are a lot of professions out there - why be a photographer?
Because I love taking photographs. I am totally passionate about what I do. I saw many years ago that I wanted to stop working and get paid to do something that I love. I created my business being successful in a very short space of time. I shot around 20 weddings in my first year and 39 in my second year. I also did it totally my way. I had no training to speak of - I think I did one workshop - and it was very clear to me that if I did it my way, without too many reference points, at the very least, I would stand out from the crowd. For me to stay passionate about my business it has to come from the heart. If I’m merely regurgitating what someone else has done … well, where’s the fun in that.
4. Are you creativity satisfied at the moment?
It’s a paradox. I am satisfied in the sense that I have created some amazing experiences in the past 4 years. Through my wedding photography and also the workshop that I facilitate I have travelled to parts of the world I may never have visited. I also met some amazing people and made a whole bunch of friends that I never would have met. At the same time I am always wanting to push things further. I think we all have a standard - a kind of invisible benchmark - and once we hit that mark - the bar raises itself to the next level. We have to move. If we are not moving in one direction - we are moving in another. It’s the law of inertia. This does not however contradict my intention to always have gratitude for what I have. When I talk about moving forward I am not speaking of that continuous thinking momentum where the mind just chomps its way through experience after experience without really taking in what is going on. When I speak of moving forward I’m referring to my desire to grow as a person.
5. Do you have a “second profession” or passion?
My biggest passion over the past 2 years has been my DARE workshop. The workshop is a revolutionary approach to photography and photography business it really is. When I first did workshops I set them up as the kind of painting by numbers photography workshop of which there are many. I simply did not feel as if I was being genuine by doing them that way. I had created my business being successful in a short space of time, my images had an apparent edge to them, and I did it totally my way, attracting the couples I wanted and earning a very good living. Sharing how I did that by giving people a few tips and tricks, showing them how to compose a frame and giving them a post production preset didn’t feel like I was telling people the whole truth. I mean, we can google all that stuff these days anyhow. I wanted to give people more. I knew I had something special to share and that is how Dare came about.
I’d had an insight when I was 28 years old that totally changed how I looked at life. I saw very clearly that I could accomplish anything I wanted. And I didn’t get it by reading a book. This is what I wanted to share. In a photography framework of course. I will stress I have nothing against the formulaic kind of workshops that I mentioned because at a certain stage of development they are valuable.
7. Describe your path to what you’re doing now.
I suppose my whole life is the path that led me to this moment. I do however see a pivotal point in my life. As I suggested earlier I was 28 years old and I had an insight that really shook me awake. I saw very clearly what was stopping me from living the kind of life I dreamed about. From there it was full systems go. We are so afraid of making mistakes in life. I stopped being afraid of that a long time ago. It’s not that I don’t get scared. I absolutely do, however, I’m not scared to be scared. We have to be willing to feel rejected and to feel discomfort and the degree to which we are willing to do so is the degree to which we will realise our dreams. This is what the Dare workshop is all about.
8. Do you shoot with your left or right eye?
Right. I think. Hold up. Yes! Definitely my right.
9. Who do you respect - in photography or elsewhere?
I’ll keep it to photography.
Photography: Astrid Kirccherr: She photographed the Beatles in Hamburg in the 60s and is, I feel, an unconscious influence on my work. Astrid took the majority of her photographs when she was aged 20-21 and never really photographed much after this time. She left a profound legacy of photographs behind. Astrid was the German Fiancee of John Lennon's best friend Stuart Sutcliffe, the so called 5th Beatle, who died of a brain haemorrhage aged 21 in Hamburg.
Wedding Photography: I would have to say Sean Flanigan. I was honoured to host a workshop with Sean in 2015 and got to know him a fair amount in a short space of time. Sean is a genius at what he does, a total innovator, and sets such a high benchmark for himself. And he is simply a great guy as is Melanie - his wife. Sean has been in this game for a while now and to keep that passion alive and cooking has to be admired. I had no desire to host a workshop for anybody else to be fair. Sean’s approach to business is different to mine and so is taking photographs but I’m not really bothered about all of that. What I recognised in Sean, which I could identify with, was his passion and his unapolegetic intention to get great photographs for himself first and foremost.
10. Where do you see yourself in 10 year’s time?
I have no idea. I have so many things I want to do. One of my dreams is to have a photography factory in the heart of London from where I will host the Dare workshop. It will also be a place for photographers from all over to come together, host workshops, create shoots and work with other artists - a kind of Hogwarts of photography collaboration.
Bonus Q: Do you think the gear you use affects the way you photograph? Why?
To a degree yes. And I’m not a lens / camera junkie. I love shooting with my iPhone for example. Saying that - I think using prime lenses has definitely informed my style whatever that is. I shoot wide lenses - up close. I shoot most of a wedding on a 24.mm 1.4, a 35mm 1.4 and a 24TS lens. These are my main lenses. I use an 85mm for the ceremony alongside the 35 but it’s not a lens I favour. Another favourite, although I use it less these days, is the 45TS. Other lenses which I rarely use are a 50mm 1.4, a macro lens and a 24-70mm zoom. The 24-70 was a great lens for me when I started out but I’ve not used it for years. I tend to travel light. I don’t want the distraction of too much choice.
List of Gear
- Canon 5d Mark 3
- Canon 5d Mark 2
- 24mm 1.4
- 35mm 1.4
- 50mm 1.4
- 24mm TS (mark 2)
- 45mm TS
- 85mm 1.8
- 24-70mm 2.8
- 100mm macro (I think)
- Canon Speedlite 580 EXII
- Lomo Camera
- Iphone 6
- Iphone 5