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.
Scroll-stopper: an image or post that stops the seemingly involuntary, repeated motion of the upward thumb swipe
Y’all get it, right? Lisa Blume stopped our scroll and led us down a pleasure-fest over on her feed. Help yourself to a little peek too.
Paula Player is a wedding photographer on the South Carolina coast that is making it happen in a business inspired by bold hues and a colorful personality alike. Paula teamed up with her brother Pablo, both Colombia natives, to pursue her interest in making photography a career dream realized. Traveling with her parents to America and deciding on work behind a lens rather than a traditional education was a leap both huge and hard at the age of 20. Almost 10 years later, she’s enjoying the speed and lively lifestyle her work has become alongside being a wife and mom. Paula will be joining our Instagram feed this week and no doubt kick starting a few daydreams of the Myrtle Beach coastline for us all.
IFL – How did photography become a part of your life?
PP – When I was in the midst of starting my college degree to become a Spanish teacher, I really felt the tug to take a quick photography class. Even though I didn’t excel at the class, I knew this was what I wanted to do. It fit my personality and has helped me reach my greatest dreams so far.
IFL – What/who/where gets you inspired?
PP – I am inspired by great artists such as Rembrandt and Frida Khalo and by musicians like Miles Davis and Celia Cruz; and overall by people that are willing to do everything to grow a craft and give the best of themselves to it. I’m also constantly inspired by my parents, being immigrants, continue to do whatever on their power to help my brother and I. My husband has such dedication to us and my children are always keeping me outside of my comfort zone and their hugs when I get home from photo shoots are great.
IFL – Why film?
PP – There’s an amazing sentiment about film that I love. I can always put my camera in front of my face and see the world in a different light and perspective. Film is just a more sensible and true form of expression for me. What I have in mind is more easily translated when I am using film.
IFL – What’s your favorite film stock?
PP – Fujifilm 400 H / Portra 800
IFL – What other art forms or artists are you drawn to?
PP – Painting and drawing, I am always interested in areas where you create by hand. Also jewelry making, I think that’s a beautiful form of art.
IFL – If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing?
PP – Something creative for sure. I love to work with colors and shapes and an overall dynamic of fun! I also love training (gym) and eventually I’d love to extend the knowledge I have there to helping other become more healthy and fit.
IFL – Any challenges you find in being a film photographer? Or supporting yourself as an artist?
PP – Yes, there’s the challenge of the time that it takes during a wedding to spend doing film. Sometimes it takes longer to craft the images. Also, the financial aspect. Having to charge extra or not—it’s an area where I feel like I could grow and add new options.
IFL – Favorite moment/or one of favorites you’ve ever captured?
PP – One of my favorite moments was about 3 years ago, when I was just starting to use in film at weddings. I put my digital camera away because I wanted to capture the grandparents of the bride in this format. I got to talking to the grandfather and I asked if I could get his portrait. He simply smiled. One shot is all I took. I wasn’t sure yet if it would turn out. A week after the wedding, I learned he passed. The family was saddened and they didn’t know I had taken that single portrait. When I got my scans back, all my eyes were looking for was his simple smile and there it was. It was one of the most rewarding moments for me and the family were forever grateful.
IFL – IFL – Any gear secrets you’re up for sharing?
PP – The less gear I have with me, the better it turns out . When I have too many options, my mind goes on overwork mode and I just fumble going from lens to lens, film to film, etc. The best advice is to only take 2 lenses at at time and interchange them during the session to be more free to move around, use your hands to pose, be expressive.
IFL – Do you travel often for work? What does your everyday look like when not traveling?
PP – Normally, I travel at least to one internationally commissioned job and several nationwide weddings. I am very close to Charleston, SC, which is a big city for weddings! My days when I am not traveling are both simple and complicated! I have a studio which I go in almost daily to check in on my day to day email, scheduling, editing. I try to get a good workout somewhere in between that, a little soccer, running around the area, grab coffee and lots of times I am creating backdrops for photo shoots I host at the studio. I have two small boys, so they add a lot of fun to our days. We try to do pool time as much as we can, and we will go to the beach and take photos. My boys are my models for anything fun I feel like trying!
What makes you feel awesome?
Music is like a fuel to me—I jam to lots of different rhythms. Lots of Spanish music! Being from South America, I am very drawn by my patriotic roots, so I love some Marc Anthony, Ismael Rivera, Romeo. Music gives me a breath of fresh air while editing.
Favorite thing about your current home/town.
Weather!! Well, although the weather is difficult to control sometimes for photo shoots! Besides that, I love the amazing low country scenery we get to see on a daily basis. Another thing I love is how close locations are from one to another, typically most errands/shoots are with a 30-45 min distance, so we can accomplish a lot in just one day!
Food you love.
I am such foodie! This is a struggle for me. I LOVE tacos in a real bad way.
What makes you dance?
I am a salsa dancer at heart! Absolutely love all the styles, variations and everything to do with it!
Do your family/friends think photography is cool or nerdy?
My family are so proud of how I’ve just taken up photography and run with it. They ask me often what I am doing new and just how my business is going. My father was a huge influence for me as a little girl. We would develop photos and those memories always stuck with me and eventually I wanted to re-live the passion of photography.
I am absolutely blessed to be able to do this art for a living and share with others the joy it really brings me. I love being at weddings and photographing kids. I am happy just creating pictures. To me this is the best job in the world, and that’s why I feel I am successful. It’s because I do something I really love.
More of Paula’s work here: