Man turns passion for sneakers into a picture-perfect career

An Ottawa man living in Nova Scotia has taken his passion for sneakers and turned it into a full-time career.

Jesse Ingalls is a sneaker photographer in Glen Haven, N.S., who works with many well-known brands, including Reebok, Nike and Puma.

(Photo courtesy: Instagram/ jro._)

Ingalls says he realized his love for sneakers in the 90s, while watching a Chicago Bulls basketball game.

"Just becoming enamored with, one, basketball. I played basketball as a kid and loved sports but also, shoes," said Ingalls. "Just obsessed, obsessed with shoes."

Ingalls went to college to study graphic design and art direction and says his "obsession" with sneakers never strayed.

"A lot of the ideas I had for my portfolio, I wasn't able to actually fully create them because the images that I wanted didn't exist," he said.

That's when Ingalls started taking pictures of shoes.

(Photo courtesy: Instagram/ jro._)

"I used them in some of my executions and then I was like, 'I just enjoy doing this,'" said Ingalls.

At first, Ingalls was mainly taking pictures for himself and to help grow his skills, but his work quickly caught the attention of a much broader audience.

(Photo courtesy: Instagram/ jro._)

"At that exact same time, Reebok was trying to really switch up what they were doing and I went from doing those pictures just for myself and then Reebok reaching out saying, 'You want to take some pictures for us,' and I said, 'Are you serious? Are you joking me, guy,'" explained Ingalls. "And they were dead serious."

Ingalls says that's when his career as a sneaker photographer took a run for it – with some of his work even appearing on Good Morning America.

(Photo courtesy: Instagram/ jro._)

Ingalls' latest project is called Project Samqwan -- Samqwan meaning water in Mi’kmaw.

The idea is to mix traditional Indigenous art with a modern medium, the Nike Air Force 1.

The sneaker will become a canvas for the colourful beadwork that explores the history and experiences of many Indigenous people.

"We're going to present five different shoes that people have never seen and they're going to be auctioned off," said Ingalls.

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Ingalls says all of the proceeds from the auction will go towards clean water drinking initiatives in Indigenous communities.

"I am so happy that I've been able to take this passion that I have for sneakers and use the skills that I have acquired and help in any way, shape or form with something that I truly think is important," he said.