Iʼm Ian Beer.
45 years young, photographer and 1st AC in commercials .and action sports. I shoot mostly landscapes, objects and the occasional portrait.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada but have been living in and around Vancouver BC since 1992. I shoot with all kinds of cameras, but my pinhole cameras are: 8Banners MB (multi format), 8Banners Dragon 2 (6x18) and a home made beer can cameras for Solargraphy. My “regular job” is camera based, but I make zero money off of my photos. At this point itʼs strictly for enjoyment and expression, but I do dream of one day getting paid to take photos.
What and why you do what you do?
I love cameras and photography and have been around them all of my life.
In the 70ʼs my Dad had a darkroom setup in the laundry room, and put on
slideshows regularly for us. As a teen I always had a point and shoot camera
with me, an SLR in my 20ʼs, and in my 30ʼs I started experimenting with different
cameras and films.
I started trying to achieve different perspectives and to make ordinary things
look less ordinary. Iʼve calmed down on the green people and all pink everything
but my stuff is still a little abnormal.
What’s integral to your practice?
With pinhole shooting I think you have to be able to visualize the shot more than
with a normal camera. Thereʼs no viewfinder on a beer can camera, and any
pinhole camera viewfinders Iʼve used only give you a best guess at what your
field of view is. For Solargraphy I use 3D view on the Sun Seeker app to cheat
and know where the sun is going to go over time. Not sure itʼs integral but it
I started shooting pinhole cameras to really explore the idea of long exposures
and for the unique point of view it provides. I tried mounting pinhole cameras on moving things like my bike, to really push the effect of the long exposure and having one thing in focus with everything else streaky and abstract. I also like that you can create odd perspectives by placing a pinhole camera very close to objects or low to the ground. The illusion youʼre standing at the base of a giant object, or somewhere you canʼt actually be in real life.
As far as Solargraphy, I’m pretty sure a pinhole camera is the only way to do it.
Are there any particular themes you pursue with your practice?
Lately itʼs been Solargraphy. 3-6 month exposures ideally. I have 21 cameras out there currently and more built and ready to go. I try to
put a couple up every few weeks. My favorite part of a Solargraph is it shows you something that happens every day, but from an unseen perspective. Capturing time in an image using the
most basic of cameras and a piece of B&W photo paper. Kinda magic.
How has your practice changed over time?
Iʼve been refining my can cameras in a few ways, like a smaller pinhole for
sharper images, and covering them with camo duct tape so they wonʼt be
found so easily. I had 7 go missing at one park in less than a month, so Iʼm also
a lot pickier about where I put up cameras.
Iʼm also trying to be more careful handling wet paper negatives after nearly
ruining a couple recently.
Is there a specific piece you’re particularly proud of?
My bike mount 6x12 pinhole might be my favorite but I like how my Solargraphs
have been working out so far.
Sometimes itʼs the imperfections that make a Solargraph stand out. A
soaking wet paper neg, a camera that moved or was partially crushed by some
jerk or animal. Itʼs unpredictable and you never really know if your camera will even be there when you go to retrieve it.
One of my photos included had the fence it was attached to break loose during
the 99 day exposure, but I think it improved the result. Good mistakes.
Who’s your inspiration?
My friend Todd Duym introduced me to swing lens, pinhole cameras and
cross processing. I also tried my first pinhole photos on his balcony years ago
with his camera and pinhole lens. Thanks Todd!
My Dadʼs photography has always inspired me as well.
Other photographers Edward Burtynsky, Fred Herzog, Ian Ruhter, Chris
Brunkhart, Leonard Fong, Jussi Grznar, E.O. Goldbeck, Tony Welch, Dano
Pendygrasse, Blake Jorgenson, Scott Serfas and J. Grant Brittain. So many
others but these are favs.
People I follow on Instagram inspire me everyday with their images. Keep
creating and inspiring!
What’s your dream project?
Being paid to travel and shoot.
Egypt is top of the list. Easter Island, Mexico/Central America, Cambodia, Peru.
Anywhere else I havenʼt been. Shooting ruins and churches, architecture and
landscapes. Big budget, loose deadline, weird cameras.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My friend Jason and I were discussing photos years ago, and something he said
stuck with me, and somewhat changed my outlook. I asked him if the photo we were discussing was film or digital, and I was hung up on what camera etc. He looked at me and said:
“… it doesnʼt matter what you shoot with, a good photo is a good photo.”
He elaborated further but somehow that simple statement made it so clear to
me… because he was right.