Forget the filters of social media and grabbing a moment and moving on. Ethan Gulley lives and works in chapters. The rich tones of his images are full of nostalgia and an appreciation for life as is, despite clocking just 23 years here on earth so far. Whether its drawing, painting, or photography, he’s drawn to portraits and capturing all the little details of someone’s face. His images portray people in a good times vibe—a style that’s gained him work with brands based in authenticity, like Alabama-based Loyal Stricklin, and fashion scenes alike. Ethan is an Alabama native and recent Los Angeles resident. His parents first handed him a disposable camera to use on family trips around the age of 7. And in 2012 he made photography his full-time work. In 2016, he began Sonder Quarterly—printed collections of adventures and experiences documented in chapters and pages that reflect on the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. They sum up a little of his Southern life and travels afar. Y’all enjoy this week with Ethan over at @indiefilmlab. It’s going to be groovy and gorgeous all at once. A quick note from Ethan we couldn’t leave out: “I love working with a team of people that help elevate each others ideas.” That’s a little bit of what it’s all about on our side of the camera.
IFL: How did photography become a part of your life?
EG: I’ve been into art for as long as I can remember. I was drawing before I could read or write. I’ve always been a big fan of anything art related, so I think along with wanting to document my family vacations at a young age, photography came to me more seriously in high school as another form of art to experiment with. I got my first really camera in 10th grade and haven’t stopped shooting since.
IFL: Why film?
EG: In today’s society we’re all so wrapped up in who can get the most perfect shot the fastest so that they can post it and get the most likes. Shooting film lets you forget about all that and just shoot for the joy of capturing photos. Without the instant gratification of seeing the photo on the back of your camera, you make each shot count a little more. And not to mention all the happy accidents. Some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken ended up being shots I forgot about from 4 months prior with a huge light leak across the entire photo. Film photos have a timeless and unique quality to them.
IFL: What/who/where gets you inspired?
EG: My friends. My family. Traveling. Movies. Old Life magazines.
IFL: Do you have a favorite geographical place to shoot?
EG: I’ll always have a deep love for the South, but I also enjoy the vastness and the variety the West has to offer.
IFL: What’s your favorite film stock?
EG: Portra 400 or Gold 200.
IFL: What other art forms or artists are you drawn to?
EG: movies movies movies. I can’t tell you how much inspiration I get both consciously and subconscious from movies. And of course art itself——paintings, drawings, sculptures, other photographs, you name it. MC Escher, Dali, and Van Gogh are a few of my all time favorites.
IFL: Any challenges you find in being a film photographer? Or supporting yourself as an artist?
EG: It’s definitely not cheap. And not nearly as forgiving as digital. And not everyone (clients) understand/appreciate it. But that just means those clients that do are all the more awesome.
IFL: Favorite moment/or one of favorites you’ve ever captured
EG: Since I’ve yet to experience big, big life altering moments like marriage or having kids, that’s impossible to pick for me. It would probably have to be any genuine moment of happiness I’ve shared with someone close to me.
IFL: Any gear secrets you’re up for sharing?
EG: I feel like I don’t have any secrets to share. I like to focus more on what is in front of my camera than what the camera itself is. That being said, I do love my pentax k-1000 for its robust simplicity, my olympus xa for its compactness, and my canon eos élan for its reliability.
IFL: Do you travel often for work? What does your everyday look like when not traveling?
EG: I moved to California to accept a full-time content creator position at an ad agency, so I guess you could say I travel for work. Now that I’m out here, I have traveled back to AL for a few shoots and have some weddings coming up. And I’ve done some close travel here in CA for magazine work.
What makes you feel awesome? Music. Weather. Great food.
The weather in California is pretty great (although I do miss the rain.) Good food, a good hike, and a good movie.
Favorite thing about your current home/town.
The fact that the beach is a couple blocks away and the desert is an hour away in the other direction is pretty incredible.
Food you love:
I love a good cheeseburger.
Music I’m into lately:
Jacuzzi Boys, The Shouting Matches, The Districts, You Won’t, Sports, The Mattson 2
Do your family/friends think photography is cool or nerdy?
Probably a little bit of both. I should ask them.