Jonathan Mannion and Gucci Mane Make Limitations Work
One of the musical marvels of the last decade is how Gucci Mane was able to continue recording music while serving his time in prison. In the past two years he worked on twelve projects, including work with Young Thug and Migos, all from behind bars. So when he was finally released last month his next course of action was obvious: it was time to release another album. That EP, called Everybody Looking, released in July, includes all new work, and features Drake, Kanye West, and Young Thug. It's a short amount of time to put together an entire project, and considering he's still under house arrest Gucci needed creative collaborators who could work around some real obstacles so he invited Jonathan Mannion to photograph the artwork for it. The house arrest and ankle monitor meant Jonathan and Gucci were limited in what they could do but rather than trying to fit their concept into a keyhole, they exploded it into a fully realized vision.
The wide shoot covered more than just the album; Jonathan and Gucci created imagery for the singles off the album as well. The whole experience shows a series of situations that uses their limitations to their advantage.
One set up finds Gucci in front of a massive, colorful mural. Jonathan didn't work to avoid showing the ankle bracelet. This is what's happening in Gucci's life right now, and what is an album but a snapshot of an artist at a certain point in time? Additionally, it’s the interest of his recent corrections experience that has brought so much incredible attention to this album - the highest charting of his career - so better to embrace this story than to shy from it.
In another set up we find Gucci in his car engulfed in a special kind of luxury reserved for artists of his caliber. This image builds a whole world in what is essentially Gucci's garage, but paints a picture of him that is complete. The entire frame is filled with a relatively small area, but Jonathan was able to tell the whole story.
The fact that Gucci Mane asked Jonathan to photograph this album isn't a surprise, Jonathan has shot some of the most iconic imagery in the history of hip hop. But this was a special project, both because it marks the next phase of Gucci's career but also because it required creative problem solving. Jonathan was the right choice to successfully handle both aspects and balance the logistical needs with the creative.