Interview by Emma Kathan. All photographs by Darren Ankenman

SIGN: Virgo
CITY: Los Angeles

I always see your photography as journalistic. What I mean is your photographs never seem rehearsed. Do you ever feel shy pointing a camera at someone when they are in a moment of un-rehearsed honesty?

I used to be a bit more shy about taking someone’s photo. I still am when it comes to stealing a moment of a stranger on the street . . . not sure the feeling is shyness. It’s more a feeling that I don’t want them to disrupt their moment that I want to capture. But with models, intimacy is always what I’m after. The camera puts something between the two of us; so I suppose that’s why I don’t feel particularly shy.

You’ve made several music videos, would you one day like to make a full length film?

If I stumble upon my own Grey Gardens or Crumb, then I will definitely make it.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

James Salter’s book Light Years is amazing. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan is great. I love Laughter in the Dark by Nabokov. Bruce Jay Friedman, Nicholson Baker, David Foster Wallace, Joan Didion, Salinger . . ..

Brie Larson photographed by Darren Ankenman

Do you think of ideas for shoots and then search for models who fit this certain vision, or are you more likely to meet a model and then get ideas of what to do and where to go?

I keep it separate. I think of locations and remember them. I sometimes see a person randomly and then ask to shoot them, but this is rare. I am super particular about what I am looking for. It’s hard to describe, perhaps just a matter of taste.

Paz de la Huerta photographed by Darren Ankenman

Did you study photography in school or were you self-taught?

I studied film making, directing and editing. I kind of taught myself how to shoot photos the way I do. But I certainly studied a lot of my favorite photographers’ work. I buy a lot of books.

What inspires you most?

Light. French cinema. Certain books. Conversation. Provoke-era Japanese photography. Lots of photographers from the 60’s and 70’s.

Wiz Khalifa photographed by Darren Ankenman

Were you always passionate about photography or was it another art form that led you to here?

Whenever I discovered good photography I became passionate about it. It’s hard to say when that was. As a kid I was obsessed with good cinematography in film. I did used to specifically want to make films. I like photography more so these days because it’s more immediate.

Kate Hudson photographed by Darren Ankenman

Shannyn Sossamon photographed by Darren Ankenman

Darren Ankenman Self PortraitSelf Portrait

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