Interview with Allan Lewis
Allan Lewis is a self-taught photographer who has been taking pictures and making work since 2013. Allan’s distinctive fine art documentary style organizes everyday subjects with the use of clean, crisp lines and the interplay of light, shadow and negative space. Using digital and film photography, Allan explores his idea of half-spaces- those places that exist only within the framelines of his camera and the context of the moment in which they were captured. Allan lives in London, Ontario.
How did you become interested in photography? How did you start?
As a fan of football, skateboarding and music, I’ve spent most of my life immersed in the language of photos. I’d always messed around with photography, but without any real intent. Just before my daughter was born a co-worker suggested that I get a good camera. At the same time, I was art directing a photo shoot for work. I made friends with the photographers, who were established documentary shooters, and got into things from there.
Could you tell more about your creating process? Do you shoot on analog or digital format? Color or bnw? Why?
I almost always shoot colour- there’s just so much more to it for me- although I do appreciate the value and strength of black and white photos.
I go back and forth between film and digital. I shoot digital primarily, but the reward of a really nice shot on film is so much greater than one shot digitally. I’ve also had bad luck with losing rolls of film because of crappy cameras (and probably user error). I was on a trip to Berlin with some friends and ran into two beautiful girls, sisters, not far from the Holocaust Memorial. I convinced them to let me shoot a few portraits of them, and was looking forward to having the roll developed for those shots alone. When I went to change rolls at the end of the day, something happened, and the take up perforations on the film had ripped. I couldn’t remove the roll without exposing it, and so it was ruined. I wonder where those sisters are now?
Do you want to share something about the submitted body of work?
Saw These and Thought About You, is about experiencing a space or a scene and missing something in yourself: thinking about a moment or a feeling that’s passed through your life. High school. The airport. Your kitchen. These everyday scenes aim to represent the void left by the things and people we all encounter, whether for minutes or hours, months or years. The images are meant to help you remember thos places and feel those things, whether they’ve left you hopeful and happy or lost and destroyed.
ST+TAY was a process in learning to shoot consistently, and teaching myself how to edit a collection. I’d shoot for a month, get prints made of my favourites, and put them up on my wall. At the end of a year or so, I had a set of images that I started to shape down to the final collection that’s here. I don’t know how well it worked. Editing yourself is a tricky thing. Practice makes perfect, or at least thereabout.
How do you get inspiration? Do you have any artists or photographers that inspired you?
I have a book of Ellsworth Kelly photos that really inspired the fine art documentary side of my pictures. Lots of lines and shapes and space. Otherwise, I get inspired by random situations and moments more than intentional set ups and locations. I tend to take a camera with me when I go out walking or running errands. In the latter instance, you often find yourself with idle moments in unfamiliar parts of town. Cameras are always good to have in these situations.
What are you working on right now? Where are you going with your work?
I’m focused on building up a cache of new images to draw on for a new project. At the moment I’m interested in the fine art side of documentary photography. I like buildings, and the spaces they occupy. Whereas before I was capturing little slices of buildings, these days I’m more interested in their context and setting. I can see taking more photos in that vein, and hopefully in some places I haven’t been before.
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