Levi Walton is a Brooklyn based photographer and director, native to the tropics of Panama. His work has been featured in publications such as Monster Children, Rolling Stone, Dazed Magazine, Suspend Magazine and others.
He dabbles between editorial, portrait, and documentary photography, with a soft spot for unusual, one of a kind subjects. His photography extends to both digital and analog mediums. We recently sat down with Levi to discuss his work and learn more about himself.
1.Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Panama City, Panama. A small city with few people and very hot weather.
2. Has your location affected your style of imagery?
Upon moving to New York a lot of things definitely changed in my style and approach. I guess it mainly stems from my influences changing, and me evolving, being exposed to a million different things in the city.
3. What was your exposure to photography when growing up?
I found out about Flickr when I was like 14. A bit later I got my first DSLR, a Rebel XT (shoutout to my dad). There is some gems in that Flickr account, if I can still find it.
4. Who were your early influences?
I have always looked up to the work of Ryan McGinley, Juergen Teller, as well as Lachapelle. Legends.
5. Did you assist?
I haven’t yet, but I have a feeling I’d be a terrible assistant.
6. Do you enjoy doing commercial work?
Doing commercial work is definitely a different experience. I love doing it, especially when I get to travel, or to have creative freedom over the final product. Working with teams of this magnitude really gives you a sample of what it’s like in the big leagues, and provides you with collaborative skills that are very helpful as you move forward in your career.
7. How did the Converse project come about?
I got an email from my agent saying they had a job for Converse they wanted to pitch me for. That was an instant yes for me. The brief gave me enough creative freedom to do whatever my heart desired. I split the project in two: a photo and a video component. For the photo component, I used analog processes like pasting, cutting and burning, to create something truly unique. For the video, the editing style really set the pace for the awesome video piece that came out with. Let’s just say I know how to sell a shoe.
8. What equipment do you use currently?
I use a Mark III and a Pentax 67, as well as the occasional bargain 35mm.
9. Film or Digital?
I’d definitely have to say film. There is something about not having total control of the outcome, that seems really beautiful to me. With digital, things are easier, and photos are very easy to repeat. I love that with film no photo is the same as the other, and the fact I have to wait to see the result makes it even better. The industry will never stop needing digital though, and it’s a great skill to have regardless — mix that in with some video knowledge and you’re golden.
10. Tips for someone starting out?
I can’t stress the importance of building a lengthy portfolio. I’ve been shooting for 8 years now, so I have one of those, and it’s gotten me a very long way. If you want to live off of photography, make sure you never stop shooting, always keep adding to your portfolio, and make a name for yourself. Whether that is assisting, interning, through jobs, through Instagram. Get your name out there. Work for free at first. Share your work. And email every single person / brand / company you want to work with. Out of 1,000 emails you will always get a reply or two.