People Series: Ewald's Documentary Photography

Photography has always been a part of David Ewald’s life.

He has been surrounded by cameras since childhood.

“It’s always been in my family,” he says. “My grandfather was a really great photographer, but not a professional one. He would buy all kinds of cameras and then just pass some of them down to the family. Through that extension, my dad always had cameras.

“It’s always been a purpose into itself. When we were going somewhere it wasn’t so much for the vacation, but that we were going on a photo trip.”

And the style of the types of photos that they would take on their adventures was very specific and intentional.

“Ever since I can remember my dad would just go places and take pictures of things,” Ewald says. “He would have all these photos of landscapes and people, but not people posing, people in context of the setting they were in. He would capture these moments of strangers and that visual became a part of my understanding of the world. By extension, I think I have always just kind of liked and learned to see things as they are and not try to shape them, which I suppose is somewhat in conflict with my life as a designer.”

Following the same vein, Ewald began shooting documentary photography as a teenager. He didn’t have a specific style, but he tended to adopt a theme depending on where he was.

“I grew up in the midwest and I would take pictures of corn fields and stuff like that. Punk shows. The location tends to be the lens for me—a lot of it is circumstantial.”

Over the years, he has documented many unique stories. In this time, he has taken numerous trips to Cuba as a part of Incúbate, Uncorked’s effort to connect emerging Cuban entrepreneurs with their American counterparts, as a part of the Aspen Institute’s Fringe Diplomacy program.

“I really think that the stuff in Cuba is the up there on my list of things that I am proud of,” Ewald says. “I increasingly feel like it’s important. All of it falls within this specific period of time because I went there shortly after Obama had started loosening relations. Being an American and having it fall in that period of time is kind of interesting. It’s also interesting in the grander sweep of political history. This all falls in a period of time that is altered significantly by Castro’s death.”

But Ewald’s documentary landscapes extend far beyond the political and cultural sphere. A few years ago, he began taking very specific photos of his son, Anders.

“Well first off, he hates poses just like I do,” he says. “It all started when we went to a construction site where you can rent equipment. In that type of environment a lot of kids would try to go climb on things, but he just stood there with his arms by his sides and stared. I found it funny how he experienced new things—by standing as a tree and observing it—and my version was to start to position myself far enough away so I could capture the same scene every time.”

Ewald is most proud of that fact that not a single photo of Anders is posed—it is documentation of Anders’ exploring the world in his own way.

And he has continued to take these photos over time because these moments “just keep happening.”

In the end, Ewald lives and breathes the idea of putting everything in the world in context—he does it in his life as the Chief Design Officer, as a photographer and as a father.

About David Ewald: Ewald is the Chief Design Officer at Uncorked Studios. He likes his family, finding new things, meeting new people, and occasionally his dog. 

More about the Uncorked People Series: The Uncorked People Series features the stories of Uncorked folks and what makes them who they are. It tells the tales of the insatiably curious and multifaceted people that make the company what it is. The blogs are published once a month. Stay tuned for more.

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