The Cities That Lori Nix Builds


Instead of looking for existing urban decay to photograph, an American photographer creates her own post-apocalyptic scenes to capture in full detail on film. Find out how these amazing worlds of Lori Nix make her a non-traditional photographer after the jump!

It’s common for photographers, especially those who delve and specialize in street photography, to capture towns and cities the way they see it (and how they want it to be seen). However, there are also those who prefer making their own breath-taking worlds for their viewers to marvel at.

Among these non-traditional photographers is Lori Nix, who painstakingly puts together amazingly detailed dioramas which she later photographs using an 8×10 large format camera.

Circulation Desk, 2012

While she had dabbled in photography as a darkroom printer and later on photo editor of her college newspaper, Lori also realized early on that a conventional stint in photography was not for her. “As the editor, it became quickly obvious that I was not much of a photojournalist,” she reveals in her website. “I didn’t have the gift of being at the right place to capture breaking news. I’m also horrible at portraiture as I am unable to capture the essence of the sitter.”

However, she also studied ceramics alongside photography, and from there, she found that her strength was in her ability to build her own world instead of exploring the world to find something to photograph. She has been making intricate dioramas and photographing them since the early 1990s.

“With ceramics, you’re always building the object from scratch. This translated well in my photo studies, where my desire was to construct the image rather than find an existing one.”

Beauty Shop, 2010

In her latest work, a series called “==The City,==” Lori builds by hand the cities of the future as she imagines it—emptied of its human inhabitants whether by natural or man-made causes. The results are haunting and apocalyptic, with both the dioramas and the photos astounding in detail.

In her About Page, Lori has answered several questions about how she works, what inspires her, and how she envisions the future of her craft, but we decided to get in touch with her to tell us a bit more about the role of film photography in her works.

Majestic, 2006

What makes you keep shooting with film despite the digital choices available? And why an 8×10 large format camera?

I love film. I love how it captures color. For me, it looks closer to reality than digital. I also shoot film because I still print my photographs traditionally with an enlarger and color paper. My images are printed quite large, from 30×40 inches up to 50×75 inches. So far, no digital capture back can give me the same resolution as film, and if you stand in front of one of my images, you won’t see any grain. I enjoy working with an 8×10 camera because it makes me more methodical and careful when I’m shooting because every piece of film I load into the camera is $10.

Laundromat at Night, 2008

Do you also shoot film for your other projects or commercial work?

I shoot film for my annual Holiday card, but I shoot digital for commercial work. I’m usually on a tight deadline and I need to see the image fast, so I shoot tethered to a laptop. I love digital for being so fast. Here, I am less worried about resolution because the image will only be as large at the magazine page.

What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect/s of your projects?

The most challenging aspect of my work is getting materials to look like something else. For example, I’ll need to make foam and wood look like a leather and steel office chair, or sculpting small objects like power tools out of wood and clay.

Subway, 2012

Lastly, do you have any exhibits coming up, or any events where we can see you and your works?

I have a show that opens this Saturday at Paci Contemporary in Bresia, Italy. I will also have some photographs on display in Miami for the art fairs that take place in the beginning of December. I’m working towards my next New York show for the fall of 2013, which feels like tomorrow in my world.

Make sure to visit Lori Nix’s website to find more of “The City” and her other works!

What do you think of Lori Nix’s amazing work? Tell us what you think with a comment below!

All information and photos for this article were sourced from Lori Nix's Website.

written by plasticpopsicle on 2012-11-27 in #lifestyle #film-photography #instantcity #photography #lomography #diorama #analogue-lifestyle #interview #large-format-photography #lori-nix


  1. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    Pretty cool stuff

  2. plasticpopsicle
    plasticpopsicle ·

    Indeed, @neanderthalis! I would very much want to see Lori's works in actual, they must really be so amazing!

  3. bsdunek
    bsdunek ·

    Amazing! So realistic. It must take a lot of time to construct these.

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