Daniel Sackheim captures the birthplace of film noir

Terrified of the dark as a child, the photographer now seeks out LA’s shadows in his atmospheric images inspired by the genre

Having established himself as a director behind acclaimed TV shows such as Game of Thrones, True Detective, the Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, and Ozark, among others, Daniel Sackheim has also spent many years honing his craft as a still photographer.

The director, producer, and photographer is the focus of a new solo exhibition at Soho Photo Gallery in New York, after entering a winning submission to the gallery.

The Jaws of Light
All Signs Pointed in the Right Direction

Titled Unseen, the show takes as its premise themes of isolation and social anxiety, as well as exploring “how the ‘decisive moment’ lauded by Henri Cartier-Bresson is perhaps more fleeting and haunting than it is revelatory”.

Shot exclusively in Los Angeles, the series captures the city’s expansive architecture and landscapes through dramatic monochrome photographs. Bearing all the visual traits of film noir, the show is also a testament to Sackheim’s enduring love for the genre, carried over from his time spent working on film and television productions.

LA Noir
Homeward Bound

Through theatrical plays of light and shadow, dynamic compositions, and the recurring presence of solitary figures against urban backdrops, we get a sense of the Los Angeles that the photographer is trying to communicate – one drenched in darkness, with secrets waiting to be revealed by the encroaching sunshine, the flicker of street lamps, and the glow of Hollywood-esque signage.

Discussing this influence, Sackheim says: “Unseen explores a facet of life in a city known as the birthplace of film noir, and my obsessive curiosity rooted in a need to discover secrets that remain hidden just beneath even the most forbidding corners of the city. To excavate the past, to stare into the faces of ghosts long forgotten.”

Family Outing
Destination Unknown
End of the Road

Unseen is at Soho Photo Gallery until September 3; sohophoto.com