Photography as a Catharsis: A Conversation with Senterfolds’ Michael Brewington

When I first came across Senterfolds on Instagram (@Senterfolds), I fell in love with the photography and graphic design work showcased on the account. The page, which is just a few followers away from 5,000, features the photography and graphic design work of founder Michael Brewington. He creates these beautiful three-photo spreads that speak volumes. Brewington is able to evoke a number of emotions through his photographs, and his design skills just add to the storytelling. You need to see his work for yourself to understand, so go check it out.

Brewington often works with his close friends to create his unique and powerful work. His friend Alex Patterson, who has been heavily featured as a model on the page, also runs the company. Senterfolds is not limited to photography, though, as Brewington explains to me his plans to lead the company into new and exciting directions. Senterfolds is just starting, and it has the potential to be huge thanks to the creative mind behind it. I was able to talk to Brewington about his photography, his meeting with creative designer Virgil Abloh, and the future of the Senterfolds brand. Read our interview below.

Sara Lynn Slagle for Senterfolds.

What is it that inspires you to take pictures?

BREWINGTON: I really appreciate complexity under the guise of simplicity. You can tell [a] unique story with one photo without words or movement. I love movies, but they require so much work to create, so photography is sort of a step down. Now, I think I’m motivated by improving on my previous work.

That’s something I’ve noticed in your work; the storytelling. You do a great job at portraying human emotions in your portraits. How are you able to portray such emotions through your photos?

BREWINGTON: Usually I’m really good friends with the people that I take photos with or we develop a connection the moment we meet. It’s really, really odd how everything works out. It makes me feel like everything happens for a reason.

Why did you decide to incorporate graphic design into your work? You seem to create digital collages for your Instagram account.

BREWINGTON: On my [personal] account, I started aligning photos together for fun. It somewhat got out of hand when I learned Photoshop. Now, I appreciate its uniqueness and artistic value. The design sort of became my calling card plus it aligns with the name.

How did you come up with the name?

BREWINGTON: It came from the word ‘centerfold.’ Which is normally an attractive, often nude, girl in the folded page of a magazine. My aesthetic kinda demonstrates folded pages and I wanted to alter the perception of that word. Most of the people that I take photos of are normal people and they’re still beautiful whether they’re sexualized or not.

What has photography allowed you to do and accomplish on a personal level?

BREWINGTON: I’ve met a lot of my closest friends from taking photos. I’ve also used photography as a catharsis. So to an extent, it’s helped keep me alive and motivated.

Do you express yourself through any other forms of art?
BREWINGTON: Yeah I love to write and draw. Hopefully I can get into film.

I saw you were at Virgil [Abloh]’s event today, how was that? Did you get to meet him?

BREWINGTON: Yeah I submitted an application on Nike’s website for his ‘office hours’ and 24 people were accepted. We basically got to discuss Senterfolds and what we want to do with it. It was super insightful and he followed our account! Very, very surreal to get validation from him and Nike.

That’s wild! What exactly do you want to do with Senterfolds?

BREWINGTON: Our plan is to start sustainable clothing production, a digital and print magazine, and a short video series.

What kind of goals do you have for yourself? Where do you see yourself in five years as an artist?

BREWINGTON: I’d love to transition to creating experimental content in fashion, film and music, full time. In five years, I’d like to [be] in a place that I can’t fathom.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

BREWINGTON: Quentin Tarantino, Hayao Miyazaki, Gustav Klimt, Banksy, Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean, Virgil Abloh and the films American Beauty and Donnie Darko.

I love how you named films too; Donnie Darko is a favorite of mine. I have to ask, what is it about the film that inspires you?

BREWINGTON: The timeline and character development was incredible. They manipulated the storyline with alternate dimensions and I had never been so dumbfounded. I loved that feeling.

Going back to photography, what advice do you have for someone who wants to start working with photography?

BREWINGTON: I would shoot as often as possible and build a portfolio. Along the way, you’ll develop your own style and meet a lot of interesting people that’ll change your world view. I think you should let your passion guide you and draw from all of your experiences and emotions.

One last question. Why is art important?

BREWINGTON: I think it’s the most authentic form of communication. Art forces us to look inward. It brings us together.

Follow Senterfolds on  Instagram.



Alex Patterson for Senterfolds.
Sara Lynn Slagle for Senterfolds.
Sarah Chin for Senterfolds.

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