Hi Ira! You recently made the transition from being based in New York City to being based in Los Angeles. What was the reason for your move? Do you find LA is more nurturing to you as an artist?
Honestly, I think it’s only healthy to be making moves in your environments once in a while. I found myself not being happy in New York City, and figured it’s time to change. Having more personal space and daily sun is a big mood changer. I find it easier to work on myself here and my patience and self-esteem is growing. Plus the light is amazing here, so definitely is a big plus for photography.
You photograph some really interesting faces, how do you go about your casting process and choosing your subjects?
I like people who got something to say, a personal story and ambitions. The modeling world isn’t giving me much inspiration, so I prefer working with people I know already, or going by friend’s recommendations.
What do you find the most inspiring about traveling and being out of your element?
Being on the road is a comfortable environment for me. I traveled a lot in my early twenties – not having a smartphone or any social media – that was a big help to be self-aware and knowing how to spend time alone without becoming restless. I don’t rely like the current generation on being so attached to their phones and not capable of living without it. For me, inspiration is living daily and feeling fulfilled without looking for gratification from ‘Instagram friends’ and all that fake lifestyle.
“For me, inspiration is living daily and feeling fulfilled without looking for gratification from ‘Instagram friends’.”
“Strangely enough, what used to be personal doesn’t seem personal anymore.”
What kind of setting do you create at your home? How do you like to decorate/design your space?
I still don’t have my own home. I’ve been in transition for past couple years looking for what really is me, and recently becoming comfortable with that. My house will be rather minimal – I’m not one of those people collecting stuff. Things only hold you back. Moving from NYC to LA I decided on purpose to use my car for it, to keep only items that fit in it and get rid of the rest. For the next couple years I’m seeing myself in spacious place with patio (that I can use for shoots), and a Dodge Challenger (I’d take a car I love over house decoration items any day haha).
Do you feel that starting out as a model has made you stronger behind the lens?
I actually started as a photographer. Modeling came along later, as other photographers saw photos of me (I did self-portraits in the beginning of my career rather often) and asked me to pose for them.
What is it like looking back on work that was deeply personal to you?
Strangely enough, what used to be personal doesn’t seem personal anymore. The idea of a portrait is getting to know somebody and showing some emotion in an image, trying to make the viewer wonder what the story is. In those terms, a touch of “personal” is in everything. In regards to being personal to me – yes I have photos of guys I used to date, however it doesn’t cause any emotions seeing those images because it’s in the past.
“In regards to being personal to me – yes I have photos of guys I used to date, however it doesn’t cause any emotions seeing those images because it’s in the past.”
You worked with some big names in the fashion world while you were in New York. What were some of your favorite shoots?
Hard to say…each person is so unique. It was a pleasure seeing how beyond accomplished photographers, stylists, and designers handle things. In my experience it taught me to not overthink things – when you know you have a shot (even if it took just few frames) – you can move on to the next one.
Do you feel like existing in that world pushed you in a certain direction? Your work seems to be a lot more raw and real.
Not really, I’ve always been a fan of bare truth. I like things simple and clean. Fashion trends that come and go don’t appeal to me. Some might say it makes my work looks candid, but even for shots that are carefully posed I’m always trying to make it feel as laid back as possible.
What was it like touring with Cage The Elephant a couple years back?
Very easy. They all are amazing people, working on the album cover and press shots was a dream job, cause both them and label were interested in my vision so the whole shoot turned into collaboration of ideas. Touring is so simple to adjust too as well – I sleep well on tour buses, and its joyful to be in new place everyday, without taking any part in organization.
What is it that draws you to photographing musicians?
Personality. I like chilled, down to earth people. Models very often don’t have much to say (not in all examples but in many) so I don’t get any feeling of accomplishment from working with people like that. I like to talk topics that won’t revolve around the fashion industry.
What projects are you working on right now? What do you have coming up for 2018?
Getting a new medium format film camera, and starting to shoot all over again with it. I’m not making long-term plans really, cause it only kills living in the moment.