Interview With Ian Plant

Ian Plant jumped off a safe law career to try his luck at being a photographer. In this interview he tells us how his brave move has paid off.
Interview by Tiffany Reed Briley

It is so great to have this opportunity to virtually sit down and chat with you. Let’s start with how long you have been in photography.
I have been a full-time, professional photographer for about twelve years.

And before that you were in law. Correct?
Yes, I was a lawyer for eight years; I worked as an anti-trust lawyer in a big Washington, DC firm.

It wasn’t doing it for you, right?
This comes up a lot in interviews, as people seem really interested about the fact that I used to be a lawyer. I am amused by this because I didnʼt think there was anything interesting at all about being a lawyer. I had taken up photography and bought my first camera after my first year of law school. I went and worked for a law firm in New York and it was the first time in my life that I ever had any spare money. So I decided to buy a camera and have some fun when I went hiking or backpacking. I was hooked right away. I became addicted within a few weeks. Then I started thinking that I had just wasted $100,000 on a legal education. What am I going to do? I knew right away that photography was what I wanted to do. It evolved from a casual hobby to a very serious one. Then it became a passion and, eventually, a profession. Now, I view it as a way of life. I canʼt imagine life without taking pictures. It was as if photography dropped out of the sky and fell in my lap. It was completely random. Before I got my first camera I had no interest in the arts. I tried to draw and paint maybe a little bit, but I was never any good at it. I didn’t really consider myself an artistic person at all. So, it came out of the blue and before I knew it, I was hooked.

What did that transition look like for you? Did you know that this was something you wanted to jump into and make it happen?
That description you just used, “jumping into it and making it happen” is kind of how it happened. I decided that I was fed up with being a lawyer and I came home one day and told my wife “Hey, I just put in my two-week notice.” She freaked out! She said, “it would have been nice if you would have given me some warning”. Basically, I decided that the only way to really do it was to dive in completely. To take a page out of Pizaroʼs Adventures in the New World where, according to history and legend, when he landed in the new world, he burned his ships. Basically, sending a message to his soldiers that there was no turning back. We either succeed or completely fail. Thatʼs kind of what I did. I quit my job, I let my law license lapse. I burned my ships and decided that this is what I was going to do and I was going to either succeed or I would fail miserably, but those are my ...

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