An easy-going attitude punctuated with a wink and a smile make David Michael Siqueiros the choice in his world of "eccentrics and egotists." It's also what makes his work, best described as natural and spontaneous, so sought after in the beauty and fashion worlds.
"I like to capture beauty with my images," says Siqueiros. "You can look into a model's eyes and relate to them, they draw you in, as opposed to having them snarling at the camera. There's a certain intimacy' in that. I try to imagine my subjects as paintings, and I'm splashing them with light."
Both his penchant for creating triangles within the format he is shooting and his eye for putting graphic design elements into his fashion photographs illustrate his love of design.
"'Triangulation design' is something I look to do in each photo. For instance, in a headshot I see a triangle coming from a man's broad shoulders up to his head. If you use a tilted camera point of view, you can juxtapose the triangle from bottom to top. It's all in the composition, and it's something that helps art directors lay type down," says Siqueiros.
He cites an assignment for Ocean Drive magazine in Miami Beach, Florida. "I was shooting their annual event, called Volleypalooza, where the most beautiful models from around the world compete in a two-day volleyball tournament on South Beach. They wanted something different, something strong. For one of my shots, of two male models, I mixed daylight and my Canon EOS-1Ds digital on-camera flash, which filled in really nicely, with a low angle. You can see the triangulation, the two Vs on either side of the models and the one in the middle," says Siqueiros.
This mark of distinction—along with the trust he builds with clients—has made him a favorite of editors of Australian Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan, as well as British Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Queens, Cosmopolitan, Company, She, the London Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian.
Siqueiros, a self-confessed "Harley nut," has done several shoots for Harley-Davidson, including our cover photo. "It was a special piece for Harley-Davidson," says Siqueiros. "The concept was a play on the way Harley-Davidson is pronounced the same in different countries. So you see the same bike in London, Italy, and Sweden. I used Fuji negative film cross processing in E6 because it makes colors go wild and skin tones surreal." The technique involves overexposing negative film, sometimes overdeveloping it from what it should be. He uses different labs to achieve the right look, and executes many tests because "different labs will process differently."
Siqueiros' work has evolved over the years into a hybrid of photography and video. "After carefully planning each shoot, I create stills and video simultaneously," he explains. "My photographic style has a fluidity that translates well in moving pictures. I also edit and incorporate type and music, coming up with strong visual content."
His growing list of print/video clients includes Ocean Drive magazine, Locman watches, Tanqueray 10, and Elizabeth Arden—about which he recalls: "I did my first job for Elizabeth Arden inexpensively at the client's budget terms, then received more work doing point-of-sale collateral material for their fragrances. Six months ago, I shot a national campaign for their Halston fragrance, Unbound." He's also developing a reality TV program and a fashion and beauty program called the "StyleWise Reportagé" with Ocean Drive magazine.
Early this month, Siqueiros flew to Prague, Czech Republic—the first stop in a 12-city tour that will include shoots in New York, Los Angeles, Beijing, and Sydney—for Sports.TV, a new California company that will offer sports information on demand on the Internet. The site, set to launch in four to six months, has tapped him to direct and shoot the behind-the-scenes video of the making of its European swimsuit calendar and spokesmodel search.
Explaining his foray into video work, Siqueiros says: "Once computers came into their own, I embraced the technology and started making my own videos. Today I use a Panasonic AG-DVX100AP three-chip digital video camera with Adobe Premiere and After Effects. You have no idea how many cool title sequences I have made at La Guardia Airport [in New York] on my Mac G4 laptop in After Effects. Creating in the middle of everyday life is inspirational. What someone is wearing, saying, or doing gives me ideas."
As jazzed as he is about video's potential, Siqueiros is just as excited about digital photography. "I love digital because it is so spontaneous, and the quality of capture on my Canon EOS-1Ds is amazing. The Tanqueray 10 project was 100 percent digital."
For that campaign, Tanqueray needed four shots for a special insert and four 15-second clips that the company used at holiday time as email promotions.
"They told me they needed recipes and let me run with it," Siqueiros says. "The recipes all started with an action: pour, mix, shake, combine. I came up with the idea of creating action around them. For 'Pour' we created the look of it pouring outside, in front of a condo in Bal Harbour. 'Mix' has a girl jamming to music in the Bang & Olufsen shop in The Falls [mall] in Miami. 'Shake' has people shaking it up at Miami's trendy nightclub, Jade. And for 'Combine' I shot two people, leaving it up to the imagination."