Welcome to the second feature from the new Collective Series by The Idle Man. Where we meet up with interesting men who either work in the creative industry, or we just admire the work they do. Styled in our most recent collection, and written in the words of our Editor Georgia Jackson, read the full feature below as we believe it's more about what we do, rather than what we wear.
Meet Michael Mayren, a professional photographer and the founder of Brother Models. Craving to reach the personality of the people in his photos, Mayren has built his name up as not your typical technical photographer. He has weaved his career up from freelancer to shooting the cover for GQ Style and has names such as Frank Ocean under his belt. Gifted with a personal and intimate style of photography, his extraordinary ability to capture the soul of a piece rather than just what faces him, Mayren has broke through the norm of photography, taking his stimulating masterpieces with him.
Photo Credit: Michael Mayren
In a world where anyone can be a photographer through the world famous photographing app, Instagram, with its 800 million uses sharing their images every day. It’s a tough scene to break through and be recognised for your art. Mayren found himself creating work that he wants and shooting a GQ Style cover amongst many others. Recognised for his ability to capture profound images, he was picked up by American singer, songwriter and producer, Frank Ocean. Mayren and Ocean have been collaborating since 2014, contributing to Ocean’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ magazine, coinciding with the release of his album in 2016. Their professional friendship and joint love for being creative has produced a series of portraits displaying the inside Ocean’s work.
Photo Credit: Michael Mayren
Going above and beyond as a photographer, Mayren set up his own modelling agency. Brother, the modelling agency which is turning the industry on its head, was set up in 2016. Picking their models based on factors beyond image, their models are “passionate, charismatic, individual from all backgrounds, races and religion”, carefully hand picked Brother is proud to represent the underrepresented. More than just a modelling agency the Manchester based company has proven there is nothing stronger than the bond between a family. Pulling in individuals from different background careers including boxing, carpentry and music, all of the models are outside of the norm, untypical and uncensored. Injecting more soul into the fashion industry, the brotherhood is paving its own way with the aim of representing the hearts that truly beat in our country.
Standing for unity, diversity and family, Brother is about breaking away from guidelines and rules. Proud to represent people from all walks of life, Brother’s only social media account is on Instagram giving you face value of who they are and what they can offer. Redefining beauty is on the rise, and Mayren is following and encouraging this change, motivated by his own heart and instincts, rather than being influenced by the mass amount of models out there, Mayren’s standards are what is holding Brothers own unique identity together.
Photo Credit: Michael Mayren
Now sitting down with The Idle Man, the thought-provoking photographer, Michael Mayren, is here to discuss with us his work, ambitions and the future of Brother.
Where did your inspiration come from to start Brother Models?
I’d been street-casting for a long time as I started photographing about nine or ten years ago. I was trying to find guys who had a bit more of an edge and realness than models at agencies. So Brother was was a natural progression from photography for me. I’ve constantly got my eyes open for interesting faces.
What kind of community did you want to create with establishing a modelling agency outside of the normal beauty standards?
There was no real agenda with it from the beginning. I’d just moved back to Manchester, started shooting on a project and suddenly had around 15 guys together. What’s great about the guys at Brother is their energy. I’m really big on someone’s charisma, energy and everyone can feel that when they shoot the models. I’m quite strong-minded and believe in what I want to do and achieve, and I think that helps Brother be in it’s own lane, because I focus on doing things the way it should be done rather than looking at how other agencies do things.
I’ve really always done stuff for myself – when I began shooting it always came from the love of just simply doing it. And it still does. A big part of Brother is that I get a lot out of what I’m giving to the guys. I can see their confidence growing, and it’s one of the best rewards from creating Brother is seeing the guys progress in life.
Do you think it’s important to have this representation of different people within the fashion industry, and do you think inclusivity is something that’s important to you?
With me, I look around and I see people and what their energy is like and that’s what I’m drawn to for casting them. I don’t really take anything else into consideration. On the bigger picture diversity is definitely something that needs to be progressed more. The more I work on Brother and within the modelling industry I can see there is more work that needs to be done for sure.
Photo Credit: Cal McIntyre
What is one of the moments from your well-established career do you think is your greatest accomplishment?
Actually, reflecting upon my career and life is only something that I’ve recently been trying to do. I am always looking forward and I never really look back. Honestly though, I couldn’t pinpoint anything specific, everything I’ve done, even my mistakes have been a part of my journey.
When you’re photographing, what’s one visual feeling you want to translate through your imagery?
I’m really big on connection, no matter what I do. When I look at a photograph I love to feel like that person is looking at me. I think that’s something I subconsciously work for – that moment when someone is looking straight at me and you can see that they’re thinking about something. I strive to always have a stillness and connection within my photographs.
What do you think is the secret to maintaining a great career in such a tough industry?
I think it’s just my passion for what I love – I don’t always have the need for my work to be even published. Sometimes I just shoot stuff for myself – creating work doesn’t always need to be for someone else’s eyes.
What advice would you give to yourself if you could say something to your 18 year old self?
Oh god I’d have to sit down with myself for half a day. There’s a lot of stuff I’d tell myself, but it’s hard because part of me would say not to change anything as it’s gotten to where I am and it’s my own journey. But some advice I’d give to other young people is to really try and perfect your craft. Focus on your own voice, what is your individual identity and style. Don’t look too much at what other people are doing. It’s so easy now to just open Instagram, build a website in a day and put stuff out. Once you put stuff out that’s it there and you can’t take it back so it’s important that you believe in your work. Don’t rush, you have your own journey so just focus on perfecting your craft.
Photo Credit: Cal McIntyre
What are your hopes with Brother models for the future?
I don’t have hopes I’ve got plans. Brother is just it’s own thing and it’s constantly evolving and getting stronger as are the models. We’ve just launched Brother Girls, and I’m currently working on two more divisions but I’m not going to give them away just yet, but there’s definitely exciting things to come.
What do you think of the progression of menswear fashion at the moment?
I think menswear is evolving and changing so much that it’s moving in every direction. What’s great about now is that people are brave enough to do exactly what they want to do. It’s no longer moving in one way, it’s changing a lot. And it’s great that Menswear is such a big thing now, so many more exciting menswear designers than there used to be.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I'm more of an observer than a listener so I learn a lot more from watching how people do things rather than taking advice.