Meet Don Curry
Don Curry – the most famous pole dance photographer. You don’t know him yet? For a lot of men he has a dream job. He has taken pictures of pole stars like Marlo Fisken, Natasha Wang, Jamilla Deville, Marion Crampe and many many others. Almost all pole dance girls I know dream about being photographed by Don Curry some day. How so? I know his photography is amazing and I really love his work. I follow his FB profile on a regular basis and admire his style (and I’m impressed by the moves the girls make, of course.)
But why is he so different from the rest of the photographers? What kind of aura does he have compared to others? Now, after talking with him in Italy (Udine) in Sport & Fit Pole Studio held by Bianca B. Brencic I know why. He’s professional, sweet guy that never puts any pressure on you.
At first, let me thank you for honoring us with your interview, hosted here on Boomkats.
So, you started with pole dance photography back in 2000, right?
Actually, photography just in general, 2006-2007, but pole photography started late 2009, slowly. Then in 2010, it picked up.
Did the pole scene evolve much from 2009 till now?
Has it evolved? I think it’s still not mainstream, but it’s become more popular. I think there are more studios and more countries because of social media. So yes, back then it was just on the rise, and it’s just exploded. For every studio that closes, there’s probably three studios that open, it seems. And that’s in every country. It’s grown. The community is big but tight.
What would you say about the confidence of the women? Did it change in these several years?
Pole dance is a self-empowering sport, so anyone who gets involved in it, they feel better about themselves. I think a lot more women are definitely sharing their pictures, showing them to their family and friends. Because at the beginning a lot of people were ashamed to admit that they’re training pole dance. But now a lot more women don’t care what other people think. But of course, there’s still some girls that keep it a secret.
I remember shooting a lot of women who were very conservative when I shot them the first time. Then I’ll see them a second time or third time, and they get more free with their pole dancing, sexier. They open up and feel more confident in their body. So yes, definitely. It’s definitely changed.
What makes you different from the rest of the pole photographers, and what is the main reason for your success? It’s obvious you love to do it!
This may probably sound unbelievable – but I’ve never focused on what other photographers do because at the very beginning I wanted it to be my style and be my signature. I wanted to develop my own style. The way I set up my lighting, everything. I wanted it to be different. When I first saw pole dance, I said “This is an art. This is artistic.”
At the beginning, I was surprised there weren’t more photographers doing it. So when I saw this big opportunity I knew “I’m going to do this, but it’s going to be me.” I think when people come to my Facebook page, they realize that it’s not about me. I’ve never put my profile picture up on Facebook. It’s only about pole dance, it’s about art.
For a long time, people had no idea what I looked like because you didn’t see any picture of me or my personal stuff. And I loved it because they would say “he’s really serious about his work. You can see the love in the photography.” A lot of people thought I was a short white guy for a lot of years. [laughs]
Well, it’s very simple. You’ve got to love what you do. It doesn’t matter if you’re a baker or a doctor, you’re into music, you’re a belly dancer. If you love it, if you truly love it, it’s going to show through your work. I think that’s the difference. I live with this.
Your pole photography celebrates the power, strength, as well as the beauty of a woman’s body, not to mention the sexy side. How comfortable do women feel, generally speaking, when there is a man behind a camera?
When you feel comfortable, the people you’re shooting feel comfortable. It’s all about your personality, your demeanor. Many girls asked me if I was gay because they felt so comfortable. But no, I’m not gay. [laughs]
I think women are a lot smarter than men, so if you’re thinking bad thoughts, women can sense that. I don’t think they sense that with me because I’m professional. Before a shoot, I don’t talk to girls. Just business. During the shoot, it’s just business. After the shoot, it’s just business.
People have lots of fun at the photoshoot. I love what I do, so there’s nothing mischievous and dirty thoughts or anything like that. That’s one of the things photography schools can’t teach you. They can’t teach you to be a good person. I feel like I’m a good person, and you have nothing to worry about at all. So all these women I’ve shot they say the same thing after the photoshoot: “Don was great to work with.”
What was the most unusual, kinky thing a woman did in front of you on the set? There are some stories going around. [laughs]
Yes, there are a lot of stories. Actually, I tell this story a lot. I’m not going to say a name, but it actually happened in Florida. There was one girl; she wanted me to do a special shot for her husband to be. So we did pole, we did floor work, but at the very end, she wanted to do a very, very sexy shot. Totally no clothes. First, she asked me if it’s okay for me and when I agreed she opened up her legs.
But the funny thing is she forgot to pull out her tampon. So she was like “Wait a minute, wait a minute,” and she ran off to the bathroom and came back and said, “Okay, now I’m ready.” Then she did the shot for me. And after we were finished, we went back into the office and she stuck in a fresh tampon right in front of me and the owner of the studio. We were in shock. So that’s the one story, a funny story.
But there are many stories, many crazy things. But that’s why I love pole dancers because a lot of them feel so comfortable with their bodies. They don’t care.
How well-prepared do girls usually come to the set? Do they know exactly which element they’ll do, or they expect you will direct them?
People know about these photoshoots in advance, months in advance. So everyone has a cellphone, everyone’s on Instagram, everyone does screenshots of my work or other people’s work, and 85%-90% come prepared. What tricks they want to do, what moves, what outfits. Sometimes they run out of ideas, but I bring ideas with me.
Over the years, the girls got a lot better. At the beginning, I had to direct a lot but with social media, people are constantly getting ideas. So they usually bring their ideas.
Can you give us some directions, guidelines regarding the importance of the right pole wear, makeup, hairstyle for photography on the pole? Or is it not so important?
I think once you decide you’re going to do a photoshoot the most important thing is all about the pole tricks. Have a mixture of pole tricks, floor moves, anything else to do with your personality. Everyone is different; everyone has different personalities and different hobbies. Look on the social media. Not only my work, but other photographers’ work as well, and say “Hey, I want to do this trick. I want to shoot this pose.” And just have fun with it. Don’t stress out over it so much.
I do recommend makeup, but you don’t have to get a makeup artist. Because the majority of the shots that I shoot, you’re always going to see the profile. It’s just the way it is. You wind up with a profile. So makeup is important, but not that important.
Many girls I spoke to think they are not good enough yet to be photographed by you, but I suppose it’s not the difficult elements that are the most important.
Actually, the simple poses are probably the prettiest poses. People think you have to come to a photoshoot and do all these difficult tricks and stuff. I mean, you can if you want, but when girls do the easier, simple stuff, it’s just as pretty. So have a mixture, but just lying on the floor or on your stomach, your belly, or just standing by the pole, just holding it sometimes works better.
You have more women clients than men. Would you say this is because of the women’s vanity, or is it something else?
That’s a good question. Every once in a while I have men, but I think it’s just because there are more women in the sport in general. It’s probably like a 90% to 10% ratio of women to men. A lot of boyfriends or husbands would come to the set and shoot with the girl. That happens a lot but of course, it’s not the same.
– End of Part 1 –
You want to find out which pole elements are coolest to shoot? And what message he has especially for you?
Then read on to the second part.>> Don Curry Interview – Part 2
Photos by Boomkats