Would you mind introducing yourself? Hi, I'm Darren Ellis. A photographer living in rainy Seattle, WA but whose roots extend back to the deserts of Phoenix, AZ. My primary focus in photography is long exposure, night images of empty urban and suburban environments. Secondarily, I enjoy taking similar style photos during the day and some landscape, which I post over @visibiledistance. I actually would like to extend myself more into landscape photography but find it hard to break free of the city to be dedicated to it.
Darren’s Instagram - @backwardsdrifting
When did you first fall in love with taking photos? I really started to fall in love with photography in the very early 2000's when a friend introduced me to toy cameras. I quickly started experimenting with compositions because that's about all I could control for most of them. Those days were really about being spontaneous and not caring so much about the outcome. I do find I still have the same habits of not getting too caught up in a shot, moving quickly, and being obsessed with trying new cameras.
Do you have a favourite photography related memory, whether it be in front or behind the camera? I always reference my father with this question because he is the one that modelled how obsessed one can get over photography. He was always with a camera when I was a kid. Back then it was slightly embarrassing watching him shoot people around us and seeing him lean over the tiniest detail to capture it. My first true delight through my own photography came when I got some of my early film work printed and published in Lomography’s books "Holga: The World Through a Plastic Lens" and "Lomo LC-A Book". It was really fulfilling to turn the pages and see my photos appear in the pages. Good luck getting me to show you which ones they are, though.
Who/What inspires your photography? I can't really pinpoint one thing for an answer here. It's a collection of so many things that have created what my internal lens is drawn to. Music, movies, other photographers, personal feelings and life experiences. It's something that I'm still unpacking and I'm sure is a moving target with all the variables constantly changing.
What kind of camera do you use? These days I'm shooting digital only but have been thinking of going back to 35mm and medium format. For me, digital just works for the time I have to shoot with. I use several cameras to do my night work and it all depends on what I feel like dealing with.
- Fuji X100F crop sensor for compact, lightweight, quick moving trips with the tripod
- Sony A7iii for full frame tripod work and handheld night shots
- And very recently, a Fuji GFX 50S for slower, more considered medium format, get-in-my-belly details
What's your editing process like? It varies from shot to shot, but I typically can't wait to get home and start editing after a shoot. That means copying from my camera to my backup drive before processing in Lightroom and/or Photoshop. I'm drawn to certain colours and levels of light so I do have some consistency there.
Are there any tips you would like to give to anyone out there who would love to create similar style photos to yours? Get off IG and practice. Cliché, right? Let the work of others inspire you, but don't copy for the sake of copying. It takes a lot of mistakes and many, many photos to improve. I'm still learning and have plenty to go. When you're on IG use your community contacts for creative and technical tips.
Who are some of your favourite photographers? I don't have a great answer for this. I own photography books, but I usually buy them, look at them, and shelf them. They are simply motivation to keep doing what I love more than anything else. I don't spend too much time staring at their work. With that said, many have moved me and make up that "collection" of inspiration I mentioned earlier.
What would be your number one dream destination for a photography adventure? Mine is less a dream of going to places and more of a dream just having the time I want to shoot. I've said it often to others in my life, but if I could just be free to explore and shoot...and get paid, I would. I'm sure every passionate photographer would say the same thing, though. I'm imagining a very long road trip around the United States. Months and months, I'm talking.
The coolest place you've ever been? I'm biased with my answer here, but I have a hard time thinking of any place that beats Northern Arizona, except maybe Southern Utah, for its natural beauty. It's truly the place where my soul feels at home. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is also exceptional.
"The ocean is a desert with its life underground. And a perfect disguise above." - America