Spotlight / Photography by Aaron Levy
xTonyx (pronounced “Tony”) Wallace makes his living by creating big budget visual content. You’ve probably seen his work on your TV or phone.
The 32-year-old is already working his self-described “dream job” as a video editor and director at the creative agency Kamp Grizzly. The agency produces content for sports and fashion clients like Adidas and Danner, yet Wallace is humbly garnering attention in the Portland photography scene for an entirely different body of work.
“I’ve always tried to keep something creative to myself,” Wallace told me, “As I got busier and busier and busier, photography was something I could do no matter where I was. I travel a bunch so whatever city I was at, if I had an hour or two free, I could hit the streets and get shots you know?”
Wallace’s instagram (@senp33zy) is a largely candid account of his travels through the streets of both the Rose City and other cities around the world. Shots of urban life at bus stops in Portland are juxtaposed with photos of fashionable icons like Luka Sabatt and Jaden Smith at parties in LA or New York. It’s a cohesive body of work and it’s undeniably different from other Portland “street photography” accounts. Wallace shoots primarily on his Leica Q and Leica M7.
“I try not to let Instagram get to me,” Wallace said, “The whole point was just to show pictures that I’m proud of and like to take. I don’t feel a need to promote myself. I think it’s really smart for people to do if they want to get in… I just didn’t need it.”
Though he has been taking still photography “seriously” for only two years, xTonyx has been creating visuals since he was 20, focusing mainly on film and video work. The Oregon native worked retail full-time while attending the Art Institute and pursuing his dream of making films on the side.
“That was one of the biggest deals for me, getting hired at Kamp Grizzly,” he said, “I work a lot because it’s like getting paid to do the coolest shit anyway.”
Wallace notably doesn’t describe himself as a street photographer. Still, xTonyx said he is influenced by fashion photographers and street photographers, including his friends Travis Jensen and Brock Fetch, as well as the godfather of Brooklyn street-photography, Jamel Shabazz, who he’s worked with before through his job.
“We did a project with him once and I got to edit all the footage,” he said, “He has a warm and honest approach to the street, where’s he’s not like a creep in the bush.”
Wallace has lived in Portland for the last seven years but said that he spends roughly 40% of his time traveling for work. The Oregon-native said he loves coming back home but doesn’t deny the disconnect between the Portland lifestyle and his own “New York attitude,” even saying that his hustle “can get a little shamed here.”
“Not that we are that, but we have it in us,” he said of himself and his peers. “People can get passive aggressive and offended when they can tell you’re trying to do something. Career wise, fashion wise, how chill it is is a little too chill for me and my taste. Sometimes the hustle gets a little shamed here.”
When we spoke, he was about to leave for New York City. A few weeks after that, he’s headed to Toronto for NBA All Star Weekend. No matter how you label xTonyx Wallace, his hustle is undeniable.