This week on the Prodibi Pixel Magazine, we meet with Ian Wallace, a young artist living in Brooklyn, NY, where he works as a cinematographer and editor.
Moving to New York from San Francisco to go to film school, Ian has always enjoyed photography as an active extension of his film work. Starting his journey with a Leica M film camera, Ian started to emulate his favorite directors by documenting his city and its people in black and white.
Let's discover his work with intriguing black and white photos in full resolution, powered by Prodibi!
A few words about you, how did you start photography?
I was born in San Francisco, and I feel grateful to have had an arts focused education growing up there. I liked photography from a pretty young age, but I think I might have just liked the satisfaction of showing my family what I thought was a ‘good’ photo. But I definitely remember looking through a viewfinder on a film camera and feeling like, whoa, there's a different little world in there.
I moved to New York to go to film school, where I really focused on cinematography and documentary work. Photography became an active extension of my film work, it was something I could do every day, on my walk to class or to work. While at university I was loaned a Leica M film camera for a few years and was immediately drawn in. I would just walk around aimlessly for entire days at a time, with no objective or destination, and I think holding a camera started to give purpose to those walks.
Did you try other photography styles? Or street photography has always been your favorite one?
I have tried other styles and I do enjoy them in their own right, but I think the street work feels the most honest to me. I never felt as satisfied shooting subjects that were staged as I did stealing a weird a beautiful moment on the street. I think anyone who has been to this city can tell you that the people and scenes that you find on the street are more interesting than anything you could ever stage.
Any advice for beginners who want to start street photography? What are the do's and don’ts?
I would say to be patient and don’t expect magic on every roll, appreciate your mistakes instead of necessarily just learning from them. Allow room for accidents to happen. I used to feel the need to calculate my exposure/shutter/focus for each block that I walked down, but chances are you are missing the best shot while you’re adjusting the settings.
New York City seems to be an endless source of inspiration for your photographs? Did you find your muse in this city and streets?
Definitely, I’d like to think that I could find inspiration anywhere but the reality is that New York is where I feel most at home stylistically. My parents are architects, and they sort of raised me with a deep appreciation and love for cities, and how their history is told by their buildings. This sort of feels like the foundation for my photography, but with a bit of an added human element.
I always find the backgrounds of my shots to be the most important to me, so more often than not, I’ll find a background I like and wait for the right person to walk by. Or, follow a person that I find interesting until they line up with a background that I find fitting. So I think in that sense, at least at this stage of my life, New York is the eternal muse.
*Read On: Documentary in a garage with a photography student, an interview with Achille Laplante - Le Brun and Hands-on the Fujifilm GFX 50S in New York with Photographer CharlyHO and 20 of his pictures
Are you inspired by the work of other photographers or directors, artists?
Always. I think I shamelessly dove into black and white film photography to try to emulate my favorite photographers and film directors. Helen Levitt, Fred Herzog, Saul Leiter come to mind. I wanted to feel like I was a part of their timeline, and somehow connected to history in documenting these people and cities, while hoping to offer something new. Films are endless inspirations, and I think watching as many as you can is the best thing any artist can do.
About your photography gears, what are your favorite tools?
Tools always feel secondary to the process, but at the same time, I’m pretty particular about what I use. I’ve used the same film stock since I first tried a roll of it, and have only shot on the Leica M’s. I’ve since had to return the Leica that I use, and was generously loaned, so I am saving up to buy my own. Wish me luck.
To see more from Ian:
All photographs copyright Ian Wallace and used with his permission.
Prodibi is the quality, powerful, and easy way to showcase and share full-resolution images online. We help photographers display stunning images on the web and mobile.
Try it for free on Prodibi