Since the first time man recorded an image by the action of light onto a sensitive material, improvements on cameras and how to capture still images has yet to stop. From pinhole cameras to color film to digital images, cameras and camera parts have evolved significantly from its beginnings and have become a daily tool that is an essential much like our wallets, keys and cell phones.
One of the latest brands Union has brought into the shop is a small, L.A. based, line called Style Of Life (SOL). Brothers, Aaron and Elijah, who are both avid photographers, design and operate the brand. We caught up with the two of them to get an in-depth look into their heads, their designs, and some of the photos they’ve taken throughout their travels.
UNION: So I understand you guys grew up between France and LA. Can you tell me how much time you spent in each place? And what took you to France?
SOL: We were in the south of France, in a small village of 2000 people called Maussane-les-Alpilles. We were born in LA but lived in France until high school, when we came back to Santa Monica. We were in France for 10 years altogether but we would come back at least every summer.
We moved there because our parents wanted us to learn another language and be exposed to another culture. Because we had grown up in a big city, they thought it would be good if we also learned about life in a rural area. Originally we were only supposed to stay for one school year but my parents liked it so much they decided to stay longer. We eventually moved back to California to maintain a good balance of both American and French culture and education.
UNION: Have either one of those cities influenced your photography and/or products?
SOL: Both places have influenced us, along with the many other places we have traveled to. Our parents are avid travelers and raised us to appreciate the world, something we really took to heart. We love seeing new places, meeting different people, and all the insight and inspiration that comes from these experiences. One of the best things about traveling is coming back and seeing your home through new eyes. Taking photographs helps us see, document, and hold onto all these places, people and experiences.
UNION: What prompted you to start making camera straps?
SOL: With camera companies starting to focus more on producing better-looking cameras, I realized there was a need for a better-looking camera strap. And during my search for a better-looking strap, I saw room for improvement in their functionality as well. So I set out to make my own. I have always enjoyed making stuff with my hands. In fact, my first prototype was made up entirely of supplies I already had laying around my workspace. I used to make my own accessories and add-ons for all my toys, “up-armoring” them so-to-speak. This habit became a big part of my life.
We both carry our cameras with us every day, so designing a better camera strap was something that we both took great interest in. This current design has been personally tested and used by both of us every day for the past year. We are not only proud of this item, we truly enjoy using it.
UNION: What makes the two of you gravitate towards design?
SOL: We are both product design nerds. From clothing to electronics to interior design, we love studying good design and good products. We love finding out why something was made a certain way and not another, or why this material was used over another. We study bad products as well, because it is from these flawed products that come better products.
There is now the technology available to create functional items that look great too. With the right research, and the myriad resources available today, we can find the best materials and devise the most useful features to create a better product. That is the approach we are taking when making all of our future products as well.
Travel and photography also serve as tools towards achieving this goal. Our photos from our travels form the basis of much of our research archives, as do the notes and memories of all our observations. People around the world have found their own best way of achieving certain tasks, and have made certain crafts their specialty. Many of such innovations have not yet reached people all over. That is something else we are pursuing with SOL, to bring light to great ideas from around the world through our products.
Using our camera strap as an example, which is made of paracord. Paracord is relatively well known in the United States for being a practical and durable accessory/emergency cord, but mostly only within the military, outdoor and survivalist communities. Outside these communities, and outside the US, very few people have ever heard of it at all. By using it to make a product that was not designed specifically for either military or outdoor use, but rather for technology and fashion, a new group of people will be introduced to the benefits and advantages of paracord.
It is this attention to details and knowledge of materials that makes us love SOL and trust in what the Wallechinsky Brothers do. The camera straps are only the first of many other products to come from Aaron and Elijah.
Come through and check out the camera straps for yourselves and take one with you on your next adventure to far away lands, days at the beach, time with family and friends, or around with you on your daily routines.
(All photos above were taken either by Aaron or Elijah… Thanks for sharing with us!)