Rian Davidson: Inspired by the immediate
"I love the social engagement aspect of being a photographer."
Tell us about yourself.
Hello, I'm 26 years old, I was born in Nova Scotia, Canada and I've been living in Berlin for the last few years. I work predominately as a commercial fashion/editorial photographer and video producer here in Germany but I've also been lucky enough to be a part of some international commissions and creative projects. When I'm not working for a living, I'm working in my darkroom, photographing friends or hitting the streets to see what images can be made. It's really important for me to have a strong balance between my commercial advertising work and my creative projects.
When and how did the film journey begin for you?
I started becoming interested in photography at a really early age. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family where my parents were both creatively inclined in their own ways. They took a lot of photographs and so, the process came quite naturally. I think I bought my first film camera from a thrift store when I was around 12 years old. It was a little automatic Agfa Optima. I still have it but as a result of it being dropped at too many parties it's basically just a paperweight at this point.
The first photographer who really paved the way for me in regards to approach and intention was Robert Frank. Robert and his wife, June Leaf, live a very short distance from where I grew up and I was lucky enough to have some lasting interactions during my formative years.
What Could we always find in your gear bag?
Leica M4-P or Nikon F4 with Adox Silvermax film.
If I'm going to work in the studio, It's generally a Canon 5D MKII. Lenses come and go but I generally stick to fast primes.
What camera makes you click?
I really enjoy shooting with my Leica but I use whatever works. The moment is more important than the gear.
I would love to move into shooting large format film. I spent an afternoon with a Super Speed Graphic from Graflex and it's just a whole process that I would love to engage with more.
Who are your models? How do you interact with them before shooting?
It varies quite a lot. When I'm producing commercial work, usually I always try to use friends who fit the bill of the project over agency models. Berlin is a really good city for that kind of thing. There is no shortage of people willing to collaborate and it feels nice to produce on a more grassroots/word of mouth level as opposed to picking a model from a book through an agency. With that being said, I also try to maximize my opportunities to shoot something for myself when I'm on a commercial assignments.
When it comes to my own work, I just try to shoot as often as possible. I take portraits of friends, strangers and clients on a regular basis. Unless I'm taking photographs in the street, I feel like it's always inherently a collaborative relationship between photographer and model. We each contribute towards the photograph and from that synthesis, something new and hopefully interesting is created.
What inspires you most?
I'm mostly inspired by the immediate. I wish I could say that I'm someone who has all of these deeply rooted inspirations from photo history or whatever but the action of going out into the street, being at a party or interacting with the public is what drives me to keep going. I love the social engagement aspect of being a photographer. It's allowed me to meet and collaborate with people I would have never had the opportunity to do so with otherwise.
Do you have any advice for film photographers out there?
Bring your camera, always!
You can find Rian Davidson here: