May 29, 2019
The Photographer Interviews - Nicole Sgroi
Growing up, there were always cameras lying on the kitchen table, on bookshelves, and on the boat. I was drawn to them early on ﹘ my dad took me to Johnson Camera ﹘ a small business in Syracuse, NY. I walked out with an old manual Minolta that I could shoot on and mess around with the aperture and shutter speed.
I quickly found that photography doesn’t just allow you to capture the objects or design within a specific place and time, but it also the individuality, emotions, and thoughts of the person who saw it from that exact perspective.
Someone in front of a pane of glass may see a large rectangle, but walk 90 degree around it and you’re staring at a narrow vertical beam.
Art and design, such as the aesthetics of Art Deco, Bauhaus, and Italian Futurism. When you dissect design, there’s this opportunity to interact with any piece of it emotionally.
Industrial design can seem synthetic or inhuman, but I think you can try to uncover its artform, being that people created it in the first place. I try my best to capture that, almost, covert organic aspect through my photography.
Print has been part of some of my earliest and most significant memories. It remains just as powerful to me. Spending hours on my parent’s bedroom floor, flipping through all of these memories in Photobooks made a huge impact on my childhood.
As you sit there it’s the first time you understand the look of a time before your own, but with people you know in. ‘Why is everyone dressed like this?’ ‘Why do all of the cars look different?’ Realizing that as a kid while you’re flipping through the pages gets you thinking about what it is that you also want to hold on to for someone else, and how you might want to collect and preserve it.
I’m only able to do it part time; I don’t have the facilities or the time to solely use film. But whatever time you have is enough to get started. Find a quality used digital camera to teach yourself on. It saved me quite a bit of time and money before experimenting with film. I bought myself a 6 year old Olympus DSLR and began learning how to use photo editing software.
Flip through all the collections of what you’ve shot, even if you think you’re sure of how they look. You’d be surprised how much those frames change as you build your albums. This also helps track your progress in getting to where it is that you want to be as a photographer by providing deeper context around where you started. You may even find yourself returning to old techniques you set down for awhile because you simply weren’t experienced enough yet to execute it properly.
Dive into a bunch of magazines for ideas, wander through museums, and immerse yourself in types of work and styles you wouldn’t initially be drawn to. I think the same goes for making an effort to be in places you normally wouldn’t. Some of the best photos are taken in places you’re scared of being at the time. When you find yourself there, trust your nerves and let them do the walking. You’ll be so glad you did once you look back on the work you captured. That’s what keeps me going.