Barbara and Lydia met Ian many moons ago when they were all three undergraduates in Providence, Rhode Island. And he's been giving the best advice on which reissued Czech films to watch, which Surrealist illustrated novels to keep on hand, and thoughts on the Metropolitan Opera season ever since. And while Barbara saw him more when they both lived in Brooklyn, she is so grateful that work and friendship bring Ian to London on the regular so that even now they can eat cakes and look for gorgeous notebooks together. 

Ian McAlpin tells stories with pictures. He's versed in multiple forms of filmmaking — short, feature, analog, digital, documentary, animation, commercial, experimental, & narrative. His work as a cinematographer includes the documentaries Born to FlyThe Russian Winter, "The Obama Conversation" for Vox, & the upcoming shorts "Damnation" starring Melissa Leo, and "Capsule" — a stop-motion space story. He's directed for a diverse client list including Nest Labs, Banana Republic, and NPR.

Ian is a founding investor and board member of Hive Lighting, Inc. and editor of Funeral Photography—a digital shoebox of analog images. When he's put down his camera for the day, you can find Ian obliquely strategizing in Brooklyn, NY.

Minimalist or Maximalist?

Maximalist with minimalist aspirations.

What thing or collection of things can’t you live without?

Every film shoot is a field office that you set-up, work in for a short period of time, and ultimately breakdown. As a filmmaker, this means you have to think like a turtle — what are the essential tools I need, and how can I carry them with me everywhere I go?

To that end, I have a keychain devoted exclusively to my everyday essential tools. 

- Flashlight

- Pen

- Gaffer's Tape (1" gray)

- Thumb Drive

These items used to live on my regular keychain, but that got cumbersome. You generally don't need a pen or thumb drive at the same time you need your keys, or vice versa. They graduated to their own keyhook and live tethered to a loop inside my backpack, but sometimes they travel on my belt. Why are they all brass? Brass's weight and lustre captures the balance between the utilitarian and aesthetic for me. Or maybe I'm just a closeted steampunk.

I certainly carry more with me to work (shortlist: multitool, notebook, lightmeter, analog camera, film, phone) but these four items get me out of most jams. 

Thank you, Ian!

Read more from our Traveling Light series...