Interview with Ian Maddox


#1. Where are you from?

I grew up in Dana Point, CA, a small beach town in Orange County.  I call Los Angeles home these days, but have always lived in Southern California.


#2. How did you fall in love with Photography?

I fell hard for photography when I took it as an elective in high school.  I’ve always been a creative person, but until then hadn’t found a medium in which I could create something that I felt was actually any good.  I started pouring through magazines, and once I realized it was something I could actually make a viable living at, it was all over.  I dropped all my math and science classes, stopped prepping for the SAT’s, and just sort of gave myself over to photography.  I still remember that being one of the best feeling moments of my life.  I joke now that I basically self-sabotaged myself so that my only practical career skills would be photography or waiting tables.


#3. What is your ideal shoot?

My idea of an ideal shoot changes with my mood, and with what I’m working on, or into at the moment.  I think it would be safe to say that whatever that shoot might be, it would definitely be one where I have the freedom to play around with ideas, and a subject who’s open to putting themselves out there, and trusting that just because something might sound stupid, doesn’t necessarily mean it will look stupid.  Stupid ideas make for great photography!


#4. If you weren’t a photographer, what do you see yourself doing?

I’d be a writer for sure—a novelist.  I love to read.  I love to write.  I think there’s something very magical about being able to bring a story to life.  Who knows?  I’ve still got time.


#5. What’s your mantra?

 My mind is way too chaotic a place to have any real mantra going on repeat.  At some point on almost all of my shoots though, for better or worse, I’ll invariably yell out, “Filthier, nastier, sexier!” just to see what the subject will do.  I’ve found middling degrees of success with that tactic.


#6. What’s your hidden talent?

I have a certain unique brand of rabid social awkwardness on set, which usually helps whomever I’m shooting loosen up.  I’ve found it’s easier for people to let their guards down when the photographer is weirder than they are.  Also, I make great guacamole.  If that doesn't sound like a hidden talent, it’s only because you haven’t tried it.


#7. What would people be surprised to know about you?

I hate having my picture taken.  I’m super competitive.  I cry with a silent dignity during formulaic Hollywood movies.  I’m TERRIFIED of spiders (I’ve broken my phone’s screen twice, throwing it haphazardly across the room every time a close-up of a common garden spider slides malevolently into my Instagram feed.)


#8. What do you wish someone would invent?

A helmet I can mount a strobe to so my assistants don’t always have to be killing their shoulders holding a light over my camera.


#9. Any go-to karaoke songs?

The mere thought of standing on a stage and singing drunkenly to a crowd full of strangers is literally, to me, the stuff of nightmares.  My hell would be a karaoke bar where all the patrons are spiders.  (Just writing that sentence is making my palms sweat.)


#10. What is your spirit animal?

My dog, Oizo.  If I could be half as good a human as he is a dog, I’d be flying high indeed.