Ira Wagner | Montclair, NJ, United States

Short bio:
After a 27 year career on Wall Street, I decided to leave to pursue other interests and began taking classes in photography at ICP in New York. This led me to pursue an MFA degree. I attended the Hartford Limited Residency program and graduated in 2013. Since then I have been teaching photography at Monmouth University in New Jersey and continue photographing my interests in the urban and man made landscape.

Why do you photograph on film?
I photograph on film for two principal reasons. First, I love the look of color film images. I believe the rendition of color and the smoothness of transitions is something that distinguishes film images from digital images. Second, I use both medium and large format cameras, which allow for tremendous detail and making beautiful and intriguing large prints. Additionally, these formats are perfect for capturing the architecture and detail of the urban environment.

What is your work about?
This project is focused on man’s desire to live by the shore, even when global warming, rising sea levels and increasingly devastating storms threaten the environment. Now, three years after Hurricane Sandy, repairs and rebuilding are well underway on the Jersey Shore. The response to the threats has been to raise existing houses to as much as 10 – 12 feet above ground level. During the process, the houses are perched on jenga-like wooden forms; their precarious perches seem to reflect the risk of living and building by the shore; brought home in the recent Winter Storm Jonas, which again flooded areas of the Shore. The work questions whether this is a testimony to man’s spirit or man’s foolishness.