Ian Willms is a wandering documentary photographer who is loosely based in Toronto. His photography practice primarily resides within the gulf between journalism and contemporary art.

From the baking highways of the American southwest, to the frozen railways of Siberia, Willms strives to communicate the emotional environment surrounding his subjects through a lyrical approach to photography. The indelible nature of passing time and the conflict of inevitable compromise are common threads that run throughout Willms’ longterm photo essays.

 Willms holds an Honours Diploma in Photojournalism and is a previous recipient of the Reportage by Getty Images Emerging Talent mentorship. As a freelance photographer, Willms has contributed to The New York Times, The Guardian Magazine, TIME, The New Yorker, The Walrus and prominent NGOs. His works have been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council and exhibited at O’Born Contemporary, Photoville, CONTACT Gallery, Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography and the Museum of Photographic Arts.


  • 2016

    • World Press Photo, Joop Swart Masterclass nominee

    • Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival , Solo Feature Exhibition, 'We Shall See'

  • 2015

    • Magenta Flash Forward, Winner

  • 2014

    • International Photography Awards, Deeper Perspectives HM

    • National Magazine Awards, Photojournalism & Photo Essay

    • Magenta Flash Forward Tenth, Highlight Photographer

  • 2013

    • Scotiabank Contact PhotographyFestival Portfolio Award, 1st Place

    • Foto Visura, Photography Grant

    • Magenta Flash Forward, Winner

    • Canada Council for the Arts, Visual Artist Grant

    • Pictures of the Year International, Environmental Vision Award

  • 2012

    • Photolucida Critical Mass, Shortlisted

    • National Magazine Awards, Gold Award, Photojournalism and Photo Essay

    • Burn Magazine, Emerging Photographer Fund shortlist

    • Ontario Arts Council, Exhibition Assistance Grant

  • 2011

    • Magenta Flash Forward, Selected

    • Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, Feature Exhibition

    • Ontario Arts Council, Exhibition Assitance Grant

  • 2010

    • Magnum Expression Photography Award, Shortlisted

    • Applied Arts Magazine, Young Blood

    • NPPA Best of Photojournalism, 2nd