Meet John Malik, a Creative Photographer From NJ
Talent lurks everywhere, especially in the densely populated state of New Jersey. Here, we introduce you to a blooming photographer named John Malik.
Written by: Forrest Bloom // Photography by: John Malik
I first discovered John Malik on Twitter and immediately gravitated to his style and vibes. Other than his unique style of photography I also enjoy his "Song of the Day" thread pinned to his Twitter profile. If you like what you see, which I'm confident you will, check out his Instagram.
What’s your primary camera and editing software?
John Malik: My primary is the Olympus Infinity Stylus Zoom 140 DLX. It’s a 35mm film camera. When I used digital cameras I used to use Photoshop/Lightroom and phone apps such as VSCO, which are things I don’t want to use anymore. I'd rather have my photos raw and unfiltered...keep it natural just as I shot it. Editing was fun to me, but when I get the developed photos back it makes me feel so much better. With film, it’s like shooting a gun in the dark. You want to hit your target with your natural ability and well-knowing, you get what I’m saying?
I definitely understand, it results in an authentic style. What draws you to the art of photography?
John: The thing that draws me to photography is how I get to document my life and just be like, “Yeah, these are my friends and the cool people I’m meeting.” Something like that. It works perfectly because I take portraits. One shot is all it takes. I also feel like there are so many different things you can do with it.
One shot is all it takes
Are you interested in other art forms (drawing, music, etc...)?
John: Music most definitely. After I went through the strange music phases of video game music and dubstep I got into actual underground and mainstream music. I listen to a lot of rap, of course, it’s inspirational despite what they say about it on the news and everything. The first artist I ACTUALLY listened to, like REALLY listened to was Tyler, the Creator back in Summer 2012. He’s just somebody who does what he wants without caring about the opinions of anyone else, which is what other artists should do. I'm thinking about making music soon for sure; I do a lot of poetry. The five albums that changed my life were Tyler, the Creator’s “WOLF”, Childish Gambino’s “Because the Internet”, Kid Cudi’s “Indicud”, A$AP Rocky’s “AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP”, and Travis Scott’s, “Rodeo”.
Great album choices! How has growing up in New Jersey, particularly Neptune, shaped your personal style and opinions?
John: I was born in Neptune. I remember going to a private Christian school full of kids that weren’t my skin color, predominantly white, and the moment I started Neptune in 7th grade it was just straight up weird. Going from a private school to a public school was just a great shift in life. I thought it would be like how they do it in the movies like, “Give me your lunch money!” all that cliché stuff. Neptune was mad cool, to be honest, and I made some dope friends throughout my time there. I miss them for sure. I wouldn’t say Neptune made me what I am though, there's much more to that. I believe what happens in the world, what I go through, and the culture around me is what made me who I am. The music, the slang, the clothing, etc. you dig what I'm saying?
I agree. We are all a product of our entire environment. So, where do you draw inspiration from?
John: Gunner Stahl. He is my favorite photographer EVER. He takes photos of any rapper you can name that’s hot right now like Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott, Migos, Donald Glover, Trippie Redd, Famous Dex, Jaden Smith, Young Thug, and the list goes on. I remember seeing him back in 2017 at one of his shows. I was close to meeting him, but the people from Peach Castle wouldn’t let me inside his exhibit...FUCK PEACH CASTLE to be honest. They called the police on us and the street got shut down. When they wouldn’t let me in, Gunner snapchatted me telling me to come back. The only thing running through my mind was, “This is my chance to see my favorite photographer maybe even speak with him and take a photo or something.” I came back, but I was on the wrong side of the street. He took photos from his exhibit and handed them out for FREE. What made me mad was people were SELLING his prints that HE gave them. But, seeing Gunner and knowing that he cares about his fans is what truly inspires me. I hope to be that way with my fans someday and make sure all of them get a chance to be in my exhibit.
Everybody has a dream
What is your ultimate dream job?
John: My ultimate dream job is to make it as a photographer and support my friends in whatever endeavors they pursue. I just want to make sure they’re serious about their dreams. I have many talented friends, and I just want to have their talents known. Shoutout to Johaynan, KhalisWesley, SPRO, AyeKwon, Tyviest, Finesse105, Villy Forest, they make music. Shoutout to SixtyFourthVisuals, she does drill music videos and they’re dope. Shoutout to Photo Lord, he’s a photographer as well. Shoutout to Mark Vicoso, Kishon Brown, Rafael Magloire, they like to skate and all that. Shoutout to Star Alycia with her makeup channel that she just started. All my friends have dreams they want to pursue. Everybody has a dream, they just have to put the work in. I know there’s probably more out there, but I just had to let you know that New Jersey is full of hidden, talented people. You just gotta find them and push them forward. One day I want to make sure everyone knows the name John Malik. Thank you, strangelooks, for taking your time and interest to interview me.