Lomography Gallery Store NYC is excited to debut Seen and be Zine, a book of photographs by Nicholas “Nicky Digital” Rhodes during a release party this Wednesday, complete with a Photo Booth featuring the Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens! We hope to see you there!
Lomography Gallery Store NYC is excited to present Seen and be Zine, a book of photographs by Nicholas “Nicky Digital” Rhodes. Rhodes is a longtime fixture of the New York City downtown nightlife scene whose body of work has, for the past decade, set the standard for today’s social media selfie-culture. In this street portrait project, he exploreed a variety of unique subjects through the Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens, getting to know them as he shot. He then had each subject fill out a brief interview, which he himself didn’t read until the entire zine was compiled.
For Rhodes, primarily working as an event photographer in the NYC music scene, this project was the perfect chance to slow down and look at his photographs in a way that he usually doesn’t.
Here are only some of the beautiful faces that appeared in Nicky’s Photo Booth, featuring the Daguerreotype Achromat and it’s star aperture. The lens transformed a simple setup into a glittering star curtain. Check out the full photo booth gallery to see them all!
What got you interested in photography, and what led to your becoming a professional photographer?
I found my grandfather’s old polaroid land camera in the back of a closet and after pretending to use it for a bit my father put a roll of film in it. Watching the film develop was absolutely magical. We had some very close family friends who were professional photographers who excitedly showed me how various cameras worked. I was hooked. Eventually I was able to take photography classes in school and then studied it at Emerson College along with what they were calling “New Media” at the time. When digital photography started maturing it was the perfect mix of tech and my passion for creating images.
What would you tell us about the nightlife scene in New York?
I have a million stories about NYC nightlife and you can see most of them on NickyDigial.com ;) … but the best part about it is you can easily write your own by going out with friends or meet some new people and see where the night takes you. There are even a million things you can do in this city for free or cheap.
What’s one of the crazier images you’ve made while shooting the nightlife? (you mentioned that some photos you take aren’t worth looking at, but some REALLY are…describe one of those.
Lots of the photos I shoot have funny easter eggs in them. Whether it’s a running gag that I find really funny or just something amazing happening in the background there is usually a lot more to see if you look closely. I don’t do much photo manipulation, but sometimes I will create a conversation with a subject by moving a birthmark to the opposite side of their face and see if anyone notices.
Where did the Seen and Be Zine idea come from?
I worked in print publications for many years, first in the production department of a weekly doing imaging work and tightening up design work and eventually as the art director of a monthly magazine. When the economy crashed in 2008 I started focusing more heavily on digital production and blogging etc. I really missed being able to hold a physical object in my hands and being able to have time to stop and reflect on what I had made. With the internet publishing there is very rarely any downtime to examine what you’ve made and spending time on learning from what you’ve produced so you can make it better the next time.
How did you choose your subjects?
A lot of times our subjects choose us! This is a big challenge because unlike chosing who we photograph for a specific reason, I’ve gotta figure out how to portray someone in an instant. When I get to chose, it’s always exciting to be able to approach the most interesting person in the room and ask for the opportunity to take their portrait.
What was it like shooting the project with the DA lens
Most of my time behind a camera is spent in controlled lighting situations, using precision digital equipment. It’s become second nature to shoot party-goers and live talent with a combination of flashes and ambient artificial lighting. The new Daguerreotype Achromat lens uses light in a playful and often unpredictable way. This presented a unique opportunity for me to use light in a way I couldn’t control, to capture portraits of close friends and new acquaintances.
It’s not an easy lens to learn to use for a perfectionist like myself. I’m used to creating very sharp images and I’m used to knowing exactly how each of my tools will capture a moment. With the DA lens the learning curve was very steep until I learned to let go and embrace it’s imperfection. I shot a lot more frames than I typically would just because I wasn’t sure what would develop. In a lot of ways it was a lot more like getting a roll of film back from the lab and seeing what worked on purpose and what happy accidents occurred. I definitely miss having the lens in my toolkit. Let me know if you know anyone who wants to gift me one!
What were some joys and challenges of working on a print magazine?
The biggest challenge for me is also the biggest joys. Coming up with a subject matter that will allow me create a body of work that remains interesting to me throughout the the capture, editing, layout, printing process and eventually release is very important. Each one of these stages is as important as the rest. If I am not passionate about each part of the process along the way the end viewer will notice. Just when you think the project is done, you’ve gotta start promoting it and getting it into people’s hands. In the end it feels absolutely amazing to watch someone else enjoy every page of the publication and engage with the content.
Preorder the Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens in the Lomography Online Shop