Joe Gasior Nocturnal British Photographer Interview
Q: How would you describe your attention span?
A: Depends what I’m working on really! I can get totally swept up in a project, so much so I live and breath it, but on the other hand, there can be things that take a while to get into, then when you feel that the ball is rolling, it’s too late! That’s something I need to work on I guess
Q: Do you like to talk about yourself or your pictures? If yes, about what aspects of photography? If no, why?
A: I tend not to talk too much about my own work, I guess I feel it takes away some of the mystery if you give away your methods.
At the same time I feel it’s very important for development of ideas to engage into dialogue with other photographers, bouncing ideas off one another is a sure-fire way to shape and form an idea.
Q: When did you decide to become a photographer?
A: My father and grandfather were both keen amateur photographers. So I used to play around with cameras when I was young. Then when it came to college, I did photography, psychology, media, and something else I don’t remember. Photography was the only subject that inspired me and my tutor encouraged me to leave and join again the next year as part of the full time BTEC course.
Q: What does photography mean to you?
A: To me, it’s a way of formalizing an expression of myself. If I cant see an aspect of myself within one of my images, I just feel like I have no connection with it.
Q: Can you recall the first photo you took that made you go WOW!?
A: I think this has got to be the fireworks in the bay one. Visually it’s quite nice, although it doesn’t really address any issues, I still like it. It was the first image I took outside of college, on my own steam, it just reminds me of a simpler time!
Q: Do you have any formal training regarding photography?
A: AS I mentioned before, I did the AS level then got encouraged to join the BTEC ND, and since then I’ve moved onto a Ba (Hons) Degree in Photography at Southampton Solent University.
Q: How technical is your photography?
A: I used to be a complete technical perfectionist, but since college and university I’ve found that rules are made to be broken! I cant stress the importance of having the technical knowledge, but you don’t need to follow these rules down to the letter, otherwise everybody’s images would be the same, and nobody wants that!
Q: How do you feel about cropping?
A: As long as you take a step back and think about the before and after crops, you can reinvigorate an image with a clever crop!
Q: Where is your favorite place to live and work as a photographer in the World and why?
A: At the moment, I’ve only really had experience in England, which is quite interesting, the south of England has some beautiful scenery and a slower pace of life than the rest of the country which give you more time to think about things. I cant wait to finish my degree and get out into the big wide world with my camera!
Q: Define the word “beauty”!
A: To me, beauty is those little things that make you smile. Like, holding the door open for someone, a nice moment with a stranger, the list goes on, im sure everybody has their own little moments that make them smile.
Q: What is your most favorite and least favorite word in photography or life? How do they make you feel?
A: I don’t have a favourite word really! Too many to choose from haha!
Q: How does your personality change when you look through the camera?
A: In my everyday life, I’m a pretty easy-going guy. When I get behind a camera, I don’t really change that much, I think its important to keep in the state of mind you need to be in to communicate through your images.
Q: How do you feel about missed shots which cannot be recreated?
A: They haunt me everyday. Nothing worse than a missed shot.
Q: Ever concerned about failure?
A: Constantly, especially being on a course where you get marked on your work. Such a bad feeling knowing you’ve put your heart and soul into some work knowing that it’s gonna be picked apart by people who may not understand what you were aiming for.
Q: Who are your influences?
A: Too many to mention really! I’ll list a few, Chrystel Lebas, Nigel Shaffran, Jay Wolke.
Q: What is your favorite image, either your own or someone else’s or both? Describe its creation or meaning to you?
A: One of my favourite images is by Rut Bless Luxemburg. It’s nighttime, the camera is aimed down some steps, and it is pouring down with rain. The reflection of a nearby streetlight tints the whole image orange, and the water form the rain has created a thin covering of water at the bottom of the steps, and in this thin covering, you can see two sets of footprints. Almost as though there are two ghosts in the image. For me, it just conjures up the idea of traces, and memory. It also creates a romanticized view of the idea of two people running hand in hand to escape the rain.
Q: Describe a day in your personal or professional life.
A: Lately, my day starts with me coming in from a shoot which has lasted all night, I’m exploring the idea of the nocturnal and insomnia. So I get back to my place and sleep for a few hours, then I wake up around 8 to make it to university on time. Do what I’ve gotta do at uni, maybe spend some time in the library, then when it gets dark, I’m out driving, thinking, shooting.
Q: What are the biggest personal or professional challenges you face on a daily basis?
A: The general public! People are too scared that because someone has a camera, you’re gonna take their picture and put it on the internet or something silly, coupled with my lack of confidence, just makes me feel awkward and almost as though my taking pictures is something I should feel ashamed of!
Q: What has been the single biggest obstacle against growing as a photographer in whole?
A: Money! If I had enough money I would be able to buy a lifetimes supply of film, darkroom paper, large format cameras, my own darkroom, I could live photography!
Q: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
A: At the moment, I’m enjoying the idea of capturing ‘essences’. So, an example, The essence of insomnia, that feeling of the sun just coming up and you haven’t slept a wink, I just like the idea of communicating that moment into a photograph.
Q: Tell your funniest, scariest, most bizarre, most touching story from a photo shoot!
A: Well, There was this one time, me and my assistant were out in the middle of nowhere at 2/3am on this old abandoned battery chicken farm. I was using the headlights from my car to light the scene, got back into the car, and the battery was dead, so we had to make some phone calls and hang our heads in shame haha! There was this other time, me and my friend was helping me out with some photos, we drove past this duckpond, and there was this light bouncing off the surface, with this quaint cottage on the other side of the pond, I had to photograph it. We got out of the car, and the heavens opened, and I hadn’t packed a waterproof cover, so here I am with this plastic bag over my head taking pictures into this duckpond. Got the shot, we got back into the car, started to drive off, and two police cars came from either end of the road, sirens, lights, the lot! We both get out the car, and the Police Officer says “we need to search your car, we’ve had reports that you’re been stealing ducks” Utter madness.
Q: Have you ever thought about or actually stopped doing photography? What were the circumstances?
A: Sometimes it crosses my mind, but at the same time I think it’s in everyone’s nature to question themselves and question their own ability.
Q: Do you ever have photographer’s block and if yes how do you deal with it?
A: When I get a block, I tend to stay up all night listening to music or reading, hoping for a moment of inspiration. A friend once told me the best thing to do is get out their and start taking photographs of anything. But it just makes me feel like I’m making pointless images.
Q: What types of assignments are you attracted most?
A: Open briefs are always welcome, I love the idea of flowing ideas and watching the idea develop and grow.
Q: Describe what black and white photography means to you?
A: Black and white photography is where my roots lie really. People underestimate the power of black and white images and I think that’s another one of those fundamentals every serious photographer should have a solid grasp of. Darkrooms feel like a second phase of image making to me.
Q: Do you think of yourself as an artist and what do you think of the word artist?
A: I would like to think of myself as an artist, but the word artist does create the idea of a pretentious person creating art for arts sake and making money off it!
Q: How do you describe your photographic style?
A: My photographic style is basically an expression of myself. So, come up with your own answers!
Q: What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction to your photographs?
A: The most surprising reaction is when people ask for a print, it just makes me think wow, they actually like it enough to have it in their house. At the same time it’s kinda creepy, because my photographs are an extension of me, people wouldn’t want a note that I’d written to frame it and put it in their house!
Q: Tell a little secret about yourself that no-one knows …
A: haha no way!
Q: Who or what would you love to shoot that you haven’t already?
A: There’s so much stuff really, I couldn’t choose just one!
Q: What would you have done differently during your photography career so far and could this be an advice to others?
A: I would have spent more time on everything that I did, I always finish a project and then think of an idea that could’ve made it that much better.
Q: What are your thoughts on the paparazzi and their effects on photographers and photography?
A: Paparazzi give photographers a bad name really. At the same time they’re just doing a job, and many of them may just be doing that to subsidise other projects, everyone’s different!
Q: How do you feel about digital manipulation and to what extent do you utilize it?
A: I used Photoshop a few times in projects, I feel like I’m cheating!
Q: What other thoughts would you like to share?
A: Thanks for this, it’s given me some things to think about!