It's not everyday that we come across a photographer as talented as Timothy Nesmith. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri but now based in Vienna, his photography demonstrates a refreshing devotion towards travel and documentary storytelling.
Always on the move shooting in exotic places around the world, Timothy's a hard one to catch these days. But, before he scooted off on his next trip, we managed to send him a Neptune Convertible Art Lens System to try out. He took it with him to Niesko, Japan, the streets of Seoul, and Pyeongchang for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The results are simply stunning. Honestly, you guys are in for a real treat...
Hello Timonthy, welcome to the Lomography Magazine! First things first, please introduce yourself to the Lomography Community
My name is Timothy Nesmith. I’m from St. Louis, Missouri and I’m currently living out of my suitcase. For the past few years, I’ve been spending most of my time in-between projects in Vienna, so that — at the moment — would be the closest city to ‘‘home.’’ I come from a film background. This is what I studied at university and my first job was as an in house screenwriter for an independent film company between Los Angeles and New York. I started taking pictures because I wanted to tell a story without waiting 2-3 years to see the finished product.
When did you first realise that you wanted to become a photographer?
I decided later than most, I think, that I wanted to be a photographer… just a couple years ago. For me, it’s primarily a means to communicate my understanding and experience of the world. The largest appeal, to me, is the opportunity that exists in the blend of documentary reality and individual voice.
What's been the highlight of your career so far, any stand out moments you felt particularly proud of?
The proudest moments I have in relation to photography are the ones that spawn personal interactions… not necessarily the ones that produce the best photos. I have a great memory of taking a photo of 3 guys in Kandy, Sri Lanka. I love the photo, but what I love more is that afterwards they invited me to their ‘‘club house’’ for the afternoon. I followed them through streets I never would have discovered and ended up in an incredible members club that was reached by pulling back a massive sheath of metal, and entering through a doorway that was absolutely invisible if you didn’t know it existed. I spent the entire day with them, sharing beers and talking about everything from soccer to religion. I saw a part of Kandy I think most people won’t ever see because of photography, and because of that I am quite proud.
Tell us a bit more about your experience with the Neptune Convertible Art Lens in North and South Korea and Japan?
Overall, I really liked shooting with the Neptune Convertible Art Lens. I was quite pleasantly surprised by the crispness I was able to pull from the lenses and the practicality is incredible. It’s a treat to walk around with a 50mm lens in my pocket and barely even notice it.
What was it like battling with the sub-zero temperatures?
It was bit of a challenge! I was shooting in absolutely freezing conditions and I, mistakenly, did not have adaptable gloves. Touching the cold metal of the lenses with my fingers was tortuous. I managed to push through though, and thawing my hands in warm water at the end of every shooting became a little reward.
What was the highlight of your trip? Did you get to go to any cool places in particular?
My trip was filled with highlights, so it’s hard to pick just one. I love skiing and Niseko is one of the greatest ski towns in the world. Waking up early, pushing your body, and then relaxing with a beer in an onsen while the snow falls down on top of you is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
I’d have to say, though, that Pyeonchang was one of the most exceptional experiences I’ve ever had. Through a bit of pestering and some far reaching nepotism, I managed to attend some of the Winter Olympics in Korea. I went to pick up my credentials and realized that I’d been given unparalleled access. I was credited in every way you could possibly imagine most conveniently as a track technician at the sliding center (where the luge, skeleton, and bob sledding events happen), so this meant I could go literally everywhere.
I kept testing the limits and never managed to find any. I was underneath the track, above it, on it, in the sled maintenance spaces and athlete dining rooms... I could go absolutely everywhere — way beyond where a normal photographer could go. This was a surreal experience and led to some of the pictures that I’m most proud of. The saddest part of the whole experience, though, is that I was absolutely unprepared for the subarctic temperatures and all my batteries died well before I wanted to be done taking photos.
Any tips for others thinking of travelling there?
If it’s cold, wear gloves — and pack extra batteries!
We love hearing about what inspires different photographers, have you been to any exhibitions lately, anything that really caught your attention?
I saw Araki Nobuyoshi’s ‘Sentimental Journey’ at the TOP Museum in Tokyo last year and it was incredible. You could feel the narrative of his life in his photos… see him experiment with expression as he progressed through different periods of personal experience. The expo opened with a series of photographs from his honeymoon and this really set the tone for how personal and intimate the entire collection was. He's a unique photographer and I would highly recommend looking at his work.
What’s on the horizon for you? Any cool projects coming up?
The spring is shaping up to be relatively busy. I’m in Guadalajara now, shooting the Mexican leg of an album release tour for Pleasurekraft. After that I’ll head to Paris and then back to Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong photographing the release tour of Netflix’s documentary, The Defiant Ones, with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. I also still shoot a couple weddings every year, when the people are great and the wedding promises to be fun! In this spirit, I’m soon heading to Marrakech with a really cool couple and will spend a bit of time exploring Morocco afterwards.
Exciting stuff, thanks Timothy, it's been a pleasure having you!