NYC with Mike Danischewski

September 20 2023 – Jack Stutfield

I know we touched base a couple of times while you were away, but you were gone for a full month yeah? Whereabouts in NYC were you posted up? Staying with friends or just running the hotel Airbnb game?

Yeah, that’s right I went over to NYC for a month, I just hired out an Airbnb in the industrial zone of Williamsburg, and I had a close friend stay with me for a few weeks. It was a good base camp for the stay.

 

Were photos and work the main drive for the trip or was it planned as a holiday, and you just couldn’t help yourself?

It started as a pure reset, a holiday to shake it all loose. Photos now are just part of my daily life, if it’s work or fun, I’ve normally got a camera in my pocket, I’m way past the point of trying to separate it. The more I kept planning the more I knew I had to document my time there.

 

I’ve tried but never managed to make it out of the city when I’ve visited in the past, did you squeeze in any day trips/get out at all or just locked in? I wanna know what else is out there!

I stayed close to the usual haunts most days, I mean it’s easy to get lost and not find your way out, NYC has so much to see, you could get lost for years. I did make it out to Rockaway which was epic, so crazy to see an inner city surf culture, they really make the most of it.

 

You’ve shot a lot of shows over the years and always seem to sit close to the hardcore scene no matter where you are, the NYHC head shot was so good, did you catch any shows out there, HC or otherwise? If so, did you shoot?

Hardcore has always been a constant in my headphones, and I couldn’t go to the mecca without seeing a show or two, I got lucky with timing and got to go to the Black and Blue ball this year, it had such a solid line of older bands and also got to see a few new favourites like Restraining Order, End it, Risk and Mutually Assured Destruction. That show was wild because of the older hardcore lifer legends that still turn up. The first person I saw while walking to the show was Freddy from Madball, and The NYHC head tatt belongs to none other than Vinnie Stigma of Agnostic Front fame - I had to cop that flic. I randomly got to see Saves the Day and Rival Schools play their classic albums from yesteryear and even caught up with Jon Joseph of the Cromags to do a walking tour of NYC.  I think it took us 45 minutes to walk 200 metres, that man loves to tell a tall tale.

 

The shots you sent our way were so sick, felt like they perfectly summed up the scenes that most take for granted on a NY holiday. Do you get excited when you’re doing a photo project like this while on holiday, or does it start to feel too much like work?

It’s hard to go somewhere new and not get completely juiced on new sights. I document to remember this weird world we are living in, so I never really find it work. I love this quote the legend Ricky Powell said “photography is as easy as pressing a button and as difficult as you want to make it” I try to keep that mantra running and not overthink it. I don’t force it too much and just snap what I stumble across.

 

You’re back home in Melbourne now and assuming you’re back to work, 

Did you grow up in Melbourne? If not, where did you call home as a kid and how long have you been gone?

I moved around a lot as a kid, my old man was in the military, it saw us move all around Australia as well as a brief stint in the States, I’ve been here since 1995 but my mother’s side of the family has always lived in Melbourne so it’s always held the anchor of home no matter where we were in the world. 

 

Were you interested in Photography through high school, or did it come later in life?

I had a lot of friends who took the photo class in high school but it wasn’t of high interest initially, I decided to take it in year 10 or 11 to join my mates, The first class was basically how to load a roll of Black and white film into a camera, I remember the teacher said: “go and take photos over the weekend and in the 2nd class I’ll teach you how to develop the film.” As soon as I closed the back on that Pentax K1000 in the first class, I was hooked. I went and shot my friend’s band play that weekend at a local battle of the bands and couldn’t wait to see what I had captured. They were trash photos but the photo bug bit hard, I’ve been holding a camera ever since.

 

Was there a moment you decided that it was a viable career path and you were going to chase it or was it something that just grew quiet and organically?

I knew early I never really wanted to wear a suit as a career and making lifelong decisions in my late teens probably wasn’t the wisest of moves, but I’ve never looked back, and I have been doing it nonstop for 20-odd years. It wasn’t easy and I’ve had a lot of moments that financially I didn’t think I’d survive, but I just kept on snapping because I enjoyed it, I let the work side of it evolve as it has, but once I pulled my finger out and went for it, the ball started rolling and I am still tumbling down the hill. Pretty lucky that a camera has kept a roof over my head for as long as it has.

 

You've worked with some iconic people and brands over the years, can you remember the first email that ever came through that made you think "Fuck, how on earth did I get here?"

It was a phone call hahaha it went “Hey this is so and so from Rolling Stone Magazine, just wondering if you are free tonight to photograph Slash from Guns n Roses while he’s in town” I legit hung up thinking it was a prank, they called back, it wasn’t.