For photography and time
How much is the hunt for a photo worth? Photographer Dan Isaac Wallin leaves civilisation behind, walks across deserts and travel to remote islands. He lugs along large format cameras and Polaroid film. Stay out for weeks, meditate and observe the surrounding nature. Despite the eons of time and all hardships, it’s worth it. When the composition comes alive. In that moment of exposure, something larger appears, something beyond the relation between perspective, camera, and subject. To Dan, photography is a process – an artistic, technical and craftsmanlike expedition.
Photographer and artist Dan Isaac Wallin is a sensation in Swedish contemporary visual art, an innovator in analogue techniques in an era of digital photography. His distinctive and dreamlike pictures are exhibited in galleries around Sweden and the Netherlands, but above all, his work can be seen in homes all the way from Scandinavia to Australia.
One way or the other, every scene captured by Dan connects to some part of his life. From the reflections of his childhood landscape, Bohuslän, to portraits of rock stars, adventurers, and common people. It comes down to the powers of attraction and time. Time is the ubiquitous factor. The time you allow for the making of a picture. To find its form. In the eye of the lens. At the photo paper. In the eye of the beholder.
Nature is a frequent theme for Dan’s artwork. May it be salty oceans, rough granite, dry deserts or snow-clad mountain peaks. Different sceneries united by their solitariness. The pictures find their form during Dan’s travels. First, he discovers a place – like Lofoten in Norway, Iceland, or Israel. Then he returns. Spend time. Create pictures. Slices of his experiences: “It’s places from my memory, places close to my heart”.
Time takes a similar decisive part in Dan’s portraits. He always works with large format. A technique that itself requires the subject to be absolutely still for a prolonged moment. A chance to get into contact with the camera and the photographer. In that moment – up to 20 seconds – unpredictable things happen. A factor that makes a meeting between humans into a piece of art: “Every portrait I make is simultaneously a self-portrait, a study of who I could be”.
As a photographer, Dan purposely has returned to analogue photography. He wants to explore the possibilities with Polaroid film as well as more craftsmanlike techniques. In his studio, a refrigerator is filled with Polaroid film. Here, he also tries out different traditional processes such as gum printing. Nostalgia has nothing to do with it, it is the craftsmanship and experiments that attract Dan: “When I run out of Polaroid film, I’ll just move on. Try new things. That’s what I like with photography, analogue as well as digital”.
Dan Isaac Wallin was born and brought up in the small town of Stenungsund on the Swedish west coast. This is also where he took his first photos: “My dad used to take a lot of photographs, and when I was 11 years old, I got my first own camera”. The true fascination for photography came later, in his late teens: “A friend’s mother was a photographer, and when she showed me the darkroom, I was stuck. It was something of a kick”.
It didn’t take long before he bough a system camera and took different photo courses. Between 2000 and 2003, he studied photography at the vocational school Biskops-Arnö. Since then his life is centered on photography. He founded Fotokompaniet, a gallery, shop and, for a couple of years, the meeting-point for analogue photography in Göteborg. After a few years as a freelancer, he now has the privilege to work whole-heartedly with his art.
Dan Isaac Wallin is based in Gothenburg where he has his studio and runs the photo gallery Elf. He has also published two photo books. The book “Steps on snow, dust on the lips” is a Polaroid book.
Thank you, Dan for providing us with such beautiful photos!