Q&A: Andre D. Wagner

10.07.16

Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? What you keep to yourself you lose, but what you give you keep forever. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Hmm, maybe everyone clinching on to their phones as they walk through the streets. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Too many. Power can be so ugly. What is it that interests you about photography? The questions. Great photographs never really answer questions. What is the worst thing about city life? I love city life. Right now it’s early in the am, ask me again around 7pm. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Asia. But honestly – I often feel like the things that are close or right outside the door we know little about. I’m constantly exploring, even if it’s in my own backyard. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? Outside of the universe and greatness of human life, what’s really supernatural? I think really hard work always shines. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be?
Garry Winogrand. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Darkroom printing. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? I almost alway have a camera. The hard part is framing the moments. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. I live in NY. Working for free isn’t possible.

Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. That’s hard. Right now what comes to mind is the Garry Winograd image that’s on Vine St. I remember the first time I went to LA I was determined to go and stand in that spot. I think there’s a Trader Joe’s on that corner now. You have a man bent over on a wheel chair on the left, 3 beautiful women and two people behind them in the center of the frame, people waiting for a bus at the bottom right, and a kid peeking around a bench viewing the scene. And of course, you have the man that took the photograph. Oh, I can’t forget about the light. That damn light. That image alone has taught me a lot. How often do you take other people’s advice? I stopped doing that a long time ago. Describe a personal hell. Does Donald Trump count? Which living person do you most admire? My fiancé, she’s amazing. On what occasion do you lie? When people ask me if I took their photograph. What was the last crime you witnessed? Some kids jumping the turnstile at the subway station. What is the best way to educate yourself? Leaving my phone in my pocket. What is the next book you want to read? I think I’m going to re-read Zen in the Art of Archery. Ultimate camera? Leica M6. Most used camera? Leica M6. What object do you want? All black 2016 Camero SS.

What object do you need? 35mm Tri-X. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? I can hardly explain it now. Remember I’m a photographer, I’m not that great with words. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? Yeah I guess, until I’m on the beach. Does more strength come with more muscles? Describe a cheap thrill. The Coney Island Cyclone. Love that ride. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. Ehh, I think I’ll pass. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great moments in history that people have photographed. But to me it almost seems too easy. I’m much more interested in everyday life, when the “action” is much more mundane. How do you make something stand out in the midst of that? For me, that’s way more interesting than historic moments. Are impulses more important than consequences? When dealing with creativity, yes! What is your plan for the next 24 hours? I get anxiety when I’m in front of the computer for too long, I’m also not a fast typer. So now I have the urge to go for a walk and shoot. I have a busy week so I need to catch up on email and prepare for some client work. I’ll probably go out to walk and shoot some more, and then end my day in the darkroom.

Andre D. Wagner – Website / Tumblr / Instagram.

Currently based in Brooklyn, Andre D. Wagner makes photographs which encapsulate American life and its social landscape. City streets, people, parades, public transportation, and the youth of the twenty-first century are his visual language. Drawing inspiration from his predecessors—Roy DeCarava, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand, to name a few— Wagner considers himself to be a student of everyday life.

“As a photographer, I’ve dedicated myself to noticing what everybody else is missing. Street photography is special because it’s about capturing everyday moments. It’s not produced. It’s not like I’m creating movie scenes or anything — I’m literally out reacting to the world. There is so much importance to that, and I enjoy taking pictures that way.”

Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Wagner received a BFA in Social Work and Digital Media in 2010. Wagner’s practice includes developing his own black and white negatives and making silver gelatin prints in a traditional darkroom. Wagner has exhibited solo and group exhibitions in New York, Paris, and Los Angeles. Additionally, his photographs been featured on Business Insider, Feature Shoot, PetaPixel, The Great Discontent, and VSCO.