David Ingraham

Lost in the Moment: An Oaxacan Journey

“What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.” – Saint Augustine

As a professional drummer who’s title is that of time-keeper, I’m constantly challenged by the responsibility of holding the band together, making the music feel good, and all while “keeping time”.



It’s expected of me to lay a solid-yet-continuously-flowing foundation on which the music can be built. Yet it all must be done “in time”, at a consistent tempo that is neither too fast nor too slow.

But if it is the drummer’s job to keep time, then it is the photographer’s job to capture it; to try and pin down a fleeting moment that has already vanished a split-second after the shutter has been released.

However, during a recent visit to Oaxaca, Mexico, I didn’t want to capture time so much as to just get lost in it; to stop looking at the clock and allow myself to be swept up in the current of this exotic place that I’d dreamt of visiting for so many years. A place full of rich color, soft light, beauty and mystery, as well as a certain sense of timelessness.

I’ve never considered myself the journalistic, story-telling type, preferring to capture a feeling rather than facts; a strong sense of place or a glimpse of that ineffable “something” that you can’t quite put your finger on.

My hope is that I was able to achieve that here: a brief glimpse into the heart and soul of this unique and timeless place that is Oaxaca.




David Ingraham is a Los Angeles-based musician who spends most of his free time pursuing and obsessing over photography. Though he can’t recall a time when he wasn’t interested in taking pictures, it wasn’t until his mid thirties that he began to take photography more seriously, immersing himself in the work of the masters as well as building a darkroom at home. But after years of experimenting with different styles, genres, and cameras in an attempt to find his own voice, something unexpected happened that would forever change the course of his photographic pursuits: he bought an iPhone. Being able to shoot, edit, and post his work all from the palm of his hand revolutionized his whole approach to photography and he’s shot with almost nothing else since.
As a member of the mobile-photography group Tiny Collective – a world-wide group of like-minded street iPhoneographers – he hopes to be able to play a role in the legitimization of mobile photography, viewing it as the latest chapter in the history of photography.


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David Ingraham


Tiny Collective

17 thoughts on “David Ingraham – Lost in the Moment: An Oaxacan Journey”

  1. Probably my fault but after reading the artist statement my expectations had risen hoping for something visually very innovative. I´m not even sure I like Oaxaca in BW. There´s nothing wrong with the photos, it´s just that I was expecting something perhaps more daring. In fact they good, but was a cell phone camera necessary?

  2. I really like this set of pictures. Good work overall.
    I found them to be honest. Plain and simple. Good seeing….it shows.
    No need to be daring….what’s the point? daring for the sake of what?
    I say David Ingraham knows what he is doing….

    This on the other hand:
    “to play a role in the legitimization of mobile photography”
    This makes it sound like using an iphone or a “phone camera” is wrong.
    I think that debate is dead or about to hit the grave.
    If you did not say that this entire set was shot on an iphone I am willing to bet hardly anybody would have noticed or even asked. I am assuming now that I think about it that this was all shot with the iPhone by reading the Bio.

    Love the work and it does not really matter to me how and with what you shot it with.

  3. David,

    Wonderful to see these pictures again, so full of mystery and precision. Great work.

  4. From Vice interview with Michael Christopher Brown:

    Do you think the rise of citizen journalism is endangering your profession? Are you worried at all that people can just record what’s happening on their phones?

    As Chuck Close said, “Photography is the only art in which there are accidental masterpieces.” Anybody, at the right place and time, is able to make a great picture, and even mechanized photography like Google Street View is able to capture great street scenes. But consistency is important if it is to be a profession, so the random great images Joe Public takes will never add up to the legacy of good pictures left by a professional.

    What is endangering photojournalism is hardline photojournalist attitudes. But I think the more imagery, the better. Sure, more editors and curators are needed to comb through this vast trove of information (thank God for hashtags?), but really, perhaps we are entering the golden age of photography, because it is finally and instantly available to nearly everyone.


  5. robinapplepeopleshots

    Congrats, David and great to see your work on Burn. In fact you (along with DAH) really did legitimize iPhoneography for me; me and (my style) haven’t been the same since the Oaxaca Workshop – meaning: everything has improved as I found my artistic voice by relying mostly on my iPhone. So thanks for your inspiring work.

  6. David,

    Very good images that are a good self portrait. The rhythm is perfect as the story carries us along to the end. Punctuating here and there are metaphorical staccato bests. It is a contemplative respectful glimpse into your soul in Oaxaca.

    I’ve seen thousands of essays over many years and I think yours holds up well to what I’ve seen. This one would show well in a major gallery.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Somehow, it all felt very familiar to me as though I had seen it many times, yet still it felt new and fresh. There is much mystery within, yet nothing feels threatening – except maybe # 1, just a little bit. There are a number of images here which I feel you would not likely have gotten with anything other than an iPhone or similar phone camera, such as number 3.

    What app did you use to make your bw conversions?

  8. David,

    You talk about the color of the place and I miss it… You have chosen B&W, why?

    Totally agree with the sentence ” “Photography is the only art in which there are accidental masterpieces.”
    The hard part is always kept there as a professional photographer…


  9. Paul, thanks for your comments.
    For me personally the iPhone is necessary simply because it’s opened up doors for me, creatively speaking, giving me a sort of creative freedom I was having trouble tapping into with a DSLR. Also, due to it’s ubiquity and inconspicuousness, I’m able to capture images I probably wouldn’t be able to otherwise, allowing me to go relatively unnoticed. In that sense, it’s the ultimate street-photography camera, for me at least.

  10. Carlo, I agree with you entirely that what one shoots with is irrelevant, the quality of the work being what matters. I guess my “legitimization” comment referred more to the fine-art world. I believe that the high-end galleries still stick their noses up at mobile photography a bit, viewing it as more of a frivolous thing for common folk. But this clearly won’t last, they’ll catch on eventually. But I think we’re in that transitional period as we speak. But yes, in the photojournalism world, people like M.C.Brown, Ben Lowey, and Ed Kashi have clearly shown that an iPhone is just another camera, and they’re doing perfectly “legitimate” work with it.
    Anyway, thanks for your insight and for checking out my work!

  11. Thank you Frostfrog for your comments and yes, you’re right about image #3: the gentleman was unaware of his photo being taken, which almost certainly wouldn’t have been the case had I been using a “normal” camera.
    The images were all shot using Hipstamatic — the John S/BlacKeys SuperGrain combo — and then edited in Snapseed (basic darkroom work — dodging, burning, adjusting contrast, etc.)
    Thanks for looking at the work!

  12. Cesar, good question!
    I chose B&W for a few different reasons:
    First of all, I think I work much better in B&W. I was shooting some color as well but I felt the B&W images were stronger (as did David Alan Harvey who’s workshop I was participating in). But I also wanted an aesthetic consistency to the essay, so at some point I felt I needed to decide to go with one or the other.
    Another reason: Oaxaca is SO colorful that shooting in color is the obvious choice, so I decided to do the opposite. But I’m certainly not the first to do so: Both Gabriela Inturbide as well as Mary Ellen Mark have shot Oaxaca in monochrome, and needless to say, quite beautifully!
    Thanks for your comments!

  13. eduardo sepulveda

    David I

    I’m not sure but i think it was Barenboim who said in an interview something like i don’t listen to music and see images of places, i look at a place, a mountain, a valley and i listen music. I can hear Oaxaca.


  14. Lovely. Thank you. Though I know nothing of iPhones and their kind (other than being very aware that they are everywhere and are changing many things)… it is obviously an incredibly capable tool when in good hands and good heart – and your hands and heart must be exceptional.

  15. Thank you, David. Now I will install Hipstamatic and Snapseed. I have not been very happy with the black and white I have gotten with any other method I have tried, but I like yours.

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