HotShots: Ian Maddox
Photo Gallery Follows the Text
You seem to forgo the studio in favor of outdoor locations. What do you look for in choosing a place to shoot?
My approach to photography is very spontaneous. I usually have a direction in mind, but a lot of my favorite shots are the result of the models and me just forgetting what the goal is and having a good time. Usually when I’m out scouting I’m looking for an environment with both color and texture that lends itself to interaction, where I and whoever I’m shooting can just sort of dick around.
There are a lot of neutral colors that put emphasis on the brighter colors in your work. What other trademarks would you say define your portfolio?
I’m always trying to get my images to look the way I remember them being when I took them. For me that means color, contrast and energy. I feel no matter how good the photograph, it will always pale in comparison to the genuine article.
What influence has living in Los Angeles had on your work?
A few years ago I moved from the suburbs to LA with the sole ambition of being a photographer, so I’d say a lot. Los Angeles has become such a creative, art-driven city. They say there are a million photographers in it. If nothing else it keeps me competitive.
A lot of your model’s personalities seem to come out in your work. What do you look for in a model?
Someone I know I can get along with. Someone who understands that the ideal picture isn’t always one of them looking sexy, or elusive, or whatever. Someone with a good smile and a real goofy laugh who hopefully will understand I have their best interests at heart when I ask them to do something terribly dumb.
A lot of your albums are shot in and around LA in everyday locations. What aspects of life are you trying to capture with your work?
Depends on the shoot. No two are the same. I’m basically just trying to find or create a moment that’s interesting to look at for more than five seconds.
What do you want people who have viewed your work to think after viewing it?
I honestly don’t think too much about my own work once it’s done. I’m always more excited about the next shoot. In any case, if I thought what I did was too terribly important, I probably wouldn’t have as much fun with it.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Everywhere. Movies. Books. Magazines. I’ve amassed a pretty good Tumblr feed of other photographers I admire. I troll the internet like stalker for ideas. But I find I get the best moments by letting my subjects just be themselves, by giving them a prompt and letting them run with it.
What defines itself as a “great” photo for you?
Any photo that makes me curious, that makes me wish I knew more about the subject and what went on on either side of that fraction of a second.
Who would you say is your biggest influence as a photographer?
If you’d asked me a few years ago I would have named the greats. A photograph by Mert and Marcus will always leave me feeling inspired and humbled, but nowadays I’d say it’s the small handful of working photographers I’m fortunate enough to know, always banging out new and creative work, who influence me the most.
Do you prefer working with those that have tattoos?
Tattoos, women, black people, blue people, hot chicks, fat chicks, whatever. You shoot any one thing long enough and that thing comes to define you. Just give me a camera and something to photograph and I’ll do my best to make it look cool.
Do you usually know what results you’re trying to achieve in a shoot?
Yes and no. I’ve never had the patience or desire to sketch out every little minutia of an image, with ridged lighting to ridged posing, the way some people do. I usually know the context in which I want to shoot someone, but what results from within that is always a surprise.
Are there any special methods you employ as opposed to other photographers in the field? Los Angeles is a big town, what would you say sets you apart?
LA is a big town indeed, and I’m not sure if what sets me apart has yet to be seen. I don’t have any silver bullets as far as technique goes. I use whatever light works best at the time, and I always keep it simple. When I photograph someone I treat it more like I’m hanging out with a friend—we’re figuring something out together. So long as we’re having a good time, I get what I need in the end.