Interviewed by: Evan Hampton; photography, Paul Riley
PC: You got your start back in the 70’s. What was it that kick-started this whirlwind career?
AM: First of all, I was in the right place, Houston, at the right time, the oil boom. The economy was soaring and all businesses related to the oil industry were growing quickly. A very good graphic designer took a chance on using me for an assignment involving a major real estate project. She had faith in me, and I did not want to disappoint her. I put an enormous amount of time and energy into making some of the best photographs I’d ever made at that time. It was the beginning of a collaboration that has lasted for many years. I credit her for giving me that chance to show what I could do.
PC: What have you gotten to do as a photographer that you’ll never forget?
AM: Everything! You never know who will call, what the assignment is, or where you’ll go to produce the work. I’ve had the good fortune to have traveled to over 90 countries, seen things and met people that I never thought I would.
PC: You’ve received some terrific honors over the years. Besides making Nikon’s Legends Behind the Lens list, what would you say has been one of your favorite honors to receive?
AM: More recently in Houston, I was the inaugural recipient of the “Only in Houston Award” from the Houston Advertising Federation. The award is for “creativity, passion and recognition that you have brought to your art and your industry.” Being honored by your peers is something you always appreciate.
PC: If you weren’t a photographer, what would be your profession of choice?
AM: Well, if I’d had the talent, professional baseball player or rock star would have been nice. But, I’m more geared toward the visual arts, so maybe architecture or film directing.
PC: Pick one word to describe yourself and your work that best represents who you are.
PC: Who are some photographers you’ve admired over the years?
AM: I’ve gathered a pretty good list. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Weston, Robert Frank, Arnold Newman, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Jay Maisel and my mentor, Ernst Haas.
PC: Name somewhere and/or someone you’d love to photograph.
AM: Antarctica, because it’s the only continent I’ve never been to. As far as someone I’d like to photograph, hmmm, I’ve always been a big fan of Bob Dylan… that could be interesting.
PC: What would you say is the most important thing for a photographer to have?
AM: A camera [chuckles]. Passion! If you’re passionate, then the odds are you’ll spend the time it takes to make the work special. I don’t think it’s about equipment. Any person with a great eye will find a way to make the shot express what they saw or were trying to say.
PC: A photographer’s vision is the most important thing to have. When did you realize you’ve found yours or did you always know what you wanted to shoot?
AM: I get that question a lot. Style and vision are something you constantly work on. Otherwise, there’s a chance you’ll go stale. You always need to be refining your vision. I’m a big believer in the importance of personal shooting and personal projects. Some photographers don’t pick up a camera unless they’re paid. And that’s a shame. As photographers, we must constantly be looking to create new imagery.
PC: What would be the last thing you’d want people to know about you? To remember you by?
AM: Mostly I want to be remembered for the vision I shared and the possibility that I may have inspired a few people along the way.
PC: What words of advice can you provide those who are fresh in photography?
AM: First, try to avoid preconceptions, because you’re more than likely going to be disappointed by what’s not there and more likely to miss what is there. Also, the more well rounded you are, the more successful you’ll be creatively. You need to have interests outside of the photo world. And finally, a favorite quote of mine by Frank Shaffer: “There are two types of jobs in the world. One where you try to fulfill your dreams—or one where you help others fulfill their dreams. Either dream is okay—if it’s your dream.”