I’m glad to show you a new interview, the first international interview of this blog!
Our man today is the very simpa Nicholas Dominic Talvola, showing us some great moody street photography and sharing his passion for music.
He is also a Japan lover and he produced a very nice book about this magic land…have a look and please consider to buy it HERE!
You can also follow him on his FLICKR
1. Hi Nicholas! I “met” you through the flickr universe and you immediately caught my attention: you shoot with a film Leica, you have nice moustaches and you play the trumpet. Interesting enough trio, uh? So, first of all let us know how and when did you start to photograph “seriously”.
“Seriously” about 3 years ago. For 3 years i haven’t left the house without my camera. I guess you could call that “serious” but i have always liked photography since i was a young child thanks to my mom Sharon Talvola who gave me my first camera, a Canon F1.
2. As said before, you are a musician. I often find this connection between music and photography. What do you think about it? Does the music you play influence your shooting style?
For sure! Music is my passport to a different realm, I would say that thanks to my music i have taken the majority of my photos. I also often wear headphones while shooting in the streets at night and this makes me feel invisible and puts me in a mood for shooting.
3. Looking at your pictures, at the moments you snap, it looks like you always carry a camera with you. Is this true? Do you have a favourite moment to go out and shoot?
Yes, it’s true hahaha. My camera never leaves my hands, shoulder or neck. Sometimes i even wake up in the morning and my camera is on the pillow next to me, thanks to this practice i have caught some great moments. I get really nervous when my film runs out, like some sort of junky, if i got 10 bucks in my pocket and no more i would spend it on a couple rolls of film rather than food.
Favorite moment to go to shoot? As you can see i shoot 99% of my fotos at night. I’m a night owl, the same scene during the day bores me, i like how the night surrounds my subjects with blackness, i have tried to shoot day time and do everyday but i find i am more creative at night.
4. It’s obvious that you shoot black and white film. Can you explain why? Do you also use digital?
I am lucky to be part of the age to see the change from film to digital. Kids nowadays look at my camera and think its a prop, or a joke. “Wheres the screen?” they ask.
I feel nostalgia with film, to me the process of shooting film its romantic too. Buy your roll, open the box, open your camera and feed it with a fresh roll, shoot not completely knowing what comes your way, transporting these undeveloped treasures, developing, the smell of chemicals…..i don’t know. Also i am not a professional photographer, i don’t have a high demand, so i shoot for myself. Shooting film makes me think about every shot. I’m not against digital nor am i closed to using digital, they are all tools for getting the result that you like i guess you could say, “different strokes for different folks”.
I have tried digital cameras, Ricoh GRD which is a killer little camera. Mine broke….haha and the Leica M digital i have tried and i think they are amazing, especially because they allow me to shoot pretty much with the same feel as my old Leica M2 and ofcourse allowing me to use my M lenses.
5. …And you also use a Leica. Why? Does it make a difference in the way you see? Do you think that gear matters or not in photography?
I started to use Leica because i was sick of having broken cameras, i had such a bad luck with cameras breaking on me. I am ruff on them i guess. I knew of all these war stories with leica cameras and how tough they are. There is one street photographer by the name of Joan Colom who used a Leica M for his work in the 50’s and 60’s and i love his work alot, streets of the neighborhood where i lived for over 6 years in Barcelona called “el raval”. I became obsessed with Leica through his work, i saw that these cameras and lenses produce a very unique image that you can tell that the photo was produced by a Leica. Especially in low light situations, which i love.
Leica is very unique for the whole telemetric thing. And yes i think using Leica definitely makes you see differently, i’d say that you see clearly. You are not trapped inside a lens like on a reflex camera, you kinda forget what’s the lens you are using, not forget but the camera becomes part of you. (Not trying to sound cheesy) but you can move faster, see beyond your frame line, it’s stealth, not obtrusive and the shutter is so quiet which allows me to work close and not disturb my subject.
Do i think gear matters? Yes i do, for sure. BUT.. on more of a personal level. I think you need to feel comfortable with your camera and lens, feeling comfortable allows your work flow to excel itself. Great pictures can be taken on mobile phones nowadays, so just pick your weapon and go for it.
6. I would like to know what’s your approach with your subjects. Do you ask for permission? Do you talk with them?
I found that asking permission is effective maybe 20% of the time. I get rejected more than accepted. So my approach is just to be myself and if i like a subject i approach them, offer them a cigarette or a drink, converse with them. There is a permission that is non-verbal, you can see when or when not to shoot. Normally i start to ask questions and without looking nervous or figgity i just put my camera to my eye and shoot and rest it back down on my chest and continue with my conversation as if nothing happened. This so far has been working for me really well, just smile and make eye contact. Before i used to look like some sort of tweaker or stalker hahahha. I would get all nervous and if they looked at me i would look away and my heart would race and shit… hahahaha. It wasn’t healthy.
7. I love that kind of dark/funny mood in your pictures. What do you want to “achieve” with your photography? What’s your “goal”?
I guess just to make good images. I like to capture the essence of the person i shoot. Whether its there smile, eyes, laugh, , nervousness, drunkenness….etc. I like to freeze these expressions and of course my goal is to make them better and better.
8.You have been in Japan for long time. Explain us how was your experience in this magic land, and what was like shooting there.
I’m in love with Japan. It’s seriously amazing there, i know that at one moment i will live there permanently. Asia is soo big and I’m so far away from it being here in Europe. Shooting there has been pretty amazing especially coming from living in Spain where everyone is paranoid with cameras. I found japan super relaxed and a fun place to shoot.
9. Who are your favourite photographers? I bet that Moriyama is one of them!
I respect Moriyama Daido and would love to meet him one day but i would not call him one of my favorite photographers. As far a japanese photographers i love and respect so much Nobuyoshi Araki for his humor and sensitivity. Also i love a fellow friend of mine and flickr user, Nishimura Junku. He has something special in his photos that make you feel and fall in love with. He got heart and he is so fun to watch shooting and working. Spannish photographers i love Joan Colom for his work in “raval” street shots, hip shots of prostitution and just spain in this time, well documented. I love the portrait work of Alberto Garcia Alix, he is a master with his camera and i have learned so much from him just being around him, he asked me to play trumpet at his presentation of his new book of self portraits, he read a script from his book and i free styled with his words. Was magical. He is a poet and a living legend. Stanley Green for his modern war photos with a Leica M, still shooting film!! I dig Bruce Gilden for his craziness. And of course the classics, W. Eugene Smith, Cartier Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt and Josef Koudelka.
10. To finish, recommend us a photography book that you like.
“Sentimental Journey/ Winter Journey” by Nobuyoshi Araki. A very special girl by the name of Natsuko Oda translated this book for me into english. It is the journey of Araki and his wife Yoko. I won’t talk too much about it but it is such a strong book that it made me cry. Check it out, its a masterpiece.
ALL PHOTOS ARE PROPERTY OF NICHOLAS DOMINIC TALVOLA AND THEY ARE SUBJECT TO COPYRIGHT. USING THEM WITHOUT THE AUTHOR’S AUTORIZATION IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.