You may have seen him across town during recent weeks photographing everything from student transit to Del Playa partiers to Isla Vista’s beloved pets. Armed with his Nikon D750, Santa Barbara City College fifth-year photography student Callahan Morgan is currently the sole force behind the Instagram page @ivstreets — a page with the goal to create a time capsule of Isla Vista community members in their natural states.
“For me, taking photos of people helps me understand humanity,” Morgan said. “It’s a process of trying to discover the shared human experience.”
Morgan said that his first experience with photography was with nature. However, after taking his first photography course, he discovered a passion for taking photos with human subjects.
“This most recent fall semester at [Santa Barbara City College], I began taking a photojournalism class,” Morgan said.“I found that the human subject and capturing emotion was captivating for me in a way that it allowed me to discover myself, and I just fell in love with it.”
The direct inspiration for choosing to document I.V. specifically came after Morgan received an assignment to photograph shadows, and he chose UC Santa Barbara as his canvas.
“I was really captivated just by the architecture here and by the number of subjects and interesting things going on,” Morgan said. “And I took some photos and I realized, hey, these are cool photos.”
The Instagram account @ivstreets currently has around 2,400 followers and shares a wide variety of daily posts, from action shots of bikers and skateboarders, stills of partygoers embracing the chaos of Del Playa and street photography of campus members in their best outfits. Morgan also shares all of his photos in a Google Drive that is free for the public to access. Morgan says that the response to his photos has been rewarding, and it has given him further motivation to continue and expand his account.
“It gives me a sense of purpose knowing that people are liking and benefiting from the photos I create. I think what’s been especially popular are the party photos,” Morgan said.
“I think there’s something to be said about people wanting to see themselves in an area that they’re familiar with but also in a more artful way. What I want to do is to have something that people can turn to for documentation of their experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise have,” he continued.
Morgan isn’t planning on keeping his account exclusive either and hopes to share his platform with other photographers and creators in I.V.
“It’s a lot of work for just one person. I’ve been spending hours each day shooting and editing photos and crafting posts and stories … It’s been something that I can see expanding even further,” Morgan said.
“It already feels like it’s starting to become sort of a community thing. So I don’t want it to feel gatekeeping and exclusive,” Morgan continued. “I would totally be open to people if they want to contribute. I would have to find a way, of course, to make that work within the context of an Instagram account.”
When asked further about what he receives from the account and his daily interactions with I.V. community members through the lens of a camera, Morgan was quick to respond with how photography is an outlet to capture shared human experience
“When you see people at parties, in their element, they’re often with their friends. They’re dancing, having a great time. There’s this really joyous energy … I personally feel like the more I do it, the closer I get to becoming a better person,” Morgan concluded.
Check out the Instagram page @ivstreets for shots of I.V. and the community.
This appeared in the February 9th Daily Nexus printed edition.