How ILL GANDER Influenced Me

Aaron Smet
2 min readApr 16, 2022


When I was in college, a friend of mine had a beautiful canvas print of a Vietnamese jungle hanging on his wall. I asked about it and he told me it was a gift from someone named Everett. It wasn’t until I inquired a bit more that he finally showed me the ILL GANDER website.

I used to browse his site for hours absolutely entranced by his photographs. His Leica camera produced some of the sharpest images I have ever seen. I vividly remember sitting in the library during finals week and casually browsing his website dreaming about how I wanted to do similar things after college. His site transported me to distant lands.

His website encapsulated everything I wanted mine to be — my own gallery space on the internet full of life experiences and creative projects. What I really admired about his website was how smart the design was. It was apparent that he paid close attention to tiny details like font and layout.

As a twenty-something, he had already built such a premium brand. He had become a master of editorial photography. His content was so dope. I looked up to him because here was a guy slightly older than me who was out photographing celebrities and working with the world’s biggest brands.

He has such a unique video editing style; quick sharp cuts layered on top of trap beats concluding with the iconic sonic branding of his logo.

Just go to his Tumblr page and you will see the sort of impact he’s had on young creatives.

“What’s good? I was jus lookin at your most recent shots and I realized that you can literally make any shot look good and it’s dope. Any advice for making photography a career?”

— chadkalaska

“Thank you! If there was 1 thing to tell you I’d say developing your own voice and presence is the biggest contributor to being able to shoot full time. How you shoot, edit, dress, eat, think, speak, etc. All that contributes in the long run. If you know who YOU are that will translate in your photos.”

— Everett Bouwer

ILL GANDER’s New Year’s Eve photo collection is partially what inspired me to bring a disposable camera to nightclubs. Looking at his photos, I realized there was something titillating about exposing people in the dark with flash photography. People come alive at night!

To see more from ILL GANDER, follow him on Tumblr and Instagram.