Alluring, mysterious, grounded — these are just some of the words we think of when we look at the work of film photographer Bryan Reisberg. His photo feed is a curated portfolio of nighttime shots that offer a sense of peace and calm in the dark. In this interview, we talk to him about his work, who and what inspires me to shoot, and how he found a sense of control in the nostalgic aesthetics of film.
Hi, Bryan and welcome to the Magazine! What do you do and how did you get started on your journey with film?
I’m a filmmaker and a creative director at an ad agency in New York City. I’ve been shooting film since I was a freshman in film school in 2006. But I started shooting a lot more in 2017. I was a freelance director at the time and was unhappy with how a few projects were turning out, for reasons out of my control. So I started going out at night to take photos. It calmed me down. I could create something and have complete control over it — which is rare.
What do you look for in a frame before you take the shot? How would you describe your style?
When I started shooting at night, the circumstances dictated the style. So I would find bright colorful lights in quiet areas and photograph them on a tripod — so those night shots would usually be more formal, which seemed to carry over to my handheld photography.
Your images have this really nostalgic analogue look and feel to them. Was this a particular effect you were going for?
At night when I would look for something to photograph, my eye would naturally be drawn to locations that felt untouched from the 60s or 70s. Old shit is interesting. I’m not sure why.
We noticed that glowing lights and nighttime scenes play a recurring role in your work. What attracts you to shooting those kinds of images?
I started shooting at night so I could be alone and make something by myself. The lens on my M3 (Summarit 50 mm f/1.5) has a single coat, so it makes highlights bloom in a really nice way. I would experiment with exposing shots differently, which made getting the negatives back really exciting.
What inspires you in your work?
My inspirations shift every week. I move around a lot, creatively, which offers its own set of problems as you try to define yourself and your own style. But recently I've been very into Slim Aarons and Tina Barney. Those kinds of photographers are hard to find. Rich people don't really like their private lives to be photographed.
What is your favorite thing about film photography? Why still do it in this day and age?
Other than the obvious aesthetics, I love the craft of shooting film and I enjoy the process. The limitations have made me into a more thoughtful storyteller. Guardrails are important to me. It makes me work harder.
Who is Bryan Reisberg when not shooting? What does a perfect day look like for you?
When I'm not shooting, Bryan Reisberg is just @MadMax_FluffyRoad's owner — there's another side of me. My perfect day is driving somewhere with my wife and dog. Doesn't matter where.
Lastly, any last words for our readers?
Large format is a pain in the ass. For real.