Photographer Noah Jashinski aims to capture, not to correct. That's probably one of our many takeaways in this interview with him. He brings such honesty and intensity to his film shots that you just can't pass up on the scenes that his lens sees. His work is a visual representation of life in all its strange beauty — complete with imperfections and a dose of untamed reality. Read on to see what keeps him going in his career as one of film photography's most talented contemporary image makers.
Hello, Noah. Welcome to the Lomography Online Magazine! How did you get started on your photographic journey?
After studying cinema in NYC for many years, I moved to LA and ended up assisting Autumn De Wilde — helping with video treatments, editing, directing, etc. She encouraged me to shoot my own film work, giving me a bag of expired 120 for the Diana my ex gave me years before. Soon after, I bought my own LC-A Compact and shot a couple friends for the fun of it. I showed my first 2 shoots to a friend who managed a bookstore, and he offered me my first show on the spot. Things just built from there.
How would you define photography?
It’s primarily about exposure and intimacy; exposing the beauty in the mundane, clearing the fog from the lenses through which we see bodies, sex, and looking at scenes either overlooked, disregarded, or more often than not, hidden from a culture of toxic shame. There is a beauty in imperfections and everyday life that we are trained to disregard, change, or “fix”. It’s those moments and details that interest me the most. It’s why I don’t use photoshop or retouch any of my photos. Everything I wish to accomplish, I do in camera.
What's your favorite thing about it?
The connection with my subjects; the vulnerability. Showing the individual the images afterward and hopefully seeing that moment where they see themselves or their living space as beautifully as I did on the day of shooting. It is so dear to me.
We are loving the intensity of your photographs. Not only in terms of contrast (black and white) but also in energy. They are so engaging. Was this a particular style you were going for?
Most definitely. Sadness. Love. Passion. Anger. Whatever ends up on the negative belongs there if it’s present when the shot is taken. Authenticity. In most instances, I spend significantly more time hanging out than shooting. Coffee, cigarettes, music sharing etc — that’s 75% of the process. If that supersedes the NEED for a single, perfect, image, the end result will have the feeling I am seeking, because it is real.
What do you usually look for in a scene? What makes you hit the shutter?
I wish I had the answer to that. Haha! I usually don’t know until I see it. I have loose ideas on how to use a space, but I never shoot in studios or with a seamless. Most of the time, I’ve never even seen where I am shooting before the day of. I usually shoot as if I am filming a documentary; I keep the camera to my eye the whole time, talking, listening to music, and just wait for that moment or angle to just show itself. I just get a weird feeling in my gut when it’s the right time to click the shutter or ask the person to hold still for a moment.
Why choose film for your creative work?
I just love the way it looks and feels. I love the happy accidents. As we know, film is not cheap; it forces me to be deliberate and has meaning with each shutter click. It also forces everyone, myself included, to stay present. There’s no, “shoot, look, shoot, look” process, which has become the norm with digital. Neither the subject or I can see what we just did. We’re forced to stay present and stay out of the results.
Some of your shots have a fine art and fashion feel to them, sometimes even experimental. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Old photos. Movies. Random thoughts I have when I am in a state of mania. All depends. The thing that inspires me the most though is my subjects. Most of my work reflects who the person truly is. If they’re an artist, I like to integrate that in some way. If their living space is very personal to them, I try to utilize that as much as possible. We always talk about ideas, thoughts, and most importantly, boundaries, before we start. They often control the direction.
What are your predictions for the film photography community/industry? How do you see it in the next five, ten years?
Film is definitely making a bit comeback, both in art and commercial, but I do not foresee it ever returning to the former glory it deserves. The industry and the viewing public has been forever set on a path of instant gratification. It makes me sad, but technology changes things and frankly, the language has not caught up with the process. There is such unbelievably gorgeous work out there, but in my mind, it has ceased to be photography — it is mixed media. Digital files, manipulated for hours or days with Photoshop, layers, additional objects, etc. It is no longer a true moment, captured in time. It is a fabrication. I LOVE some of the stuff that I am seeing, but it is something completely new in my opinion.
Who are the artists that you follow? Why?
I don’t really follow too many present-day artists, to be honest; I’m kind of in my own bubble. I have an issue with a compare and despair, so I love seeing great work at shows or galleries, but I have a tendency to isolate myself in that capacity. I am forever inspired and touched by the work of directors like Jean-Luc Goddard and François Truffaut. Photographers like Jeanloup Sieff and Jock Sturges never cease to make me melt.
What is your favorite photograph? Please tell us the story behind it.
That’s an impossible question. I am too emotionally connected to the circumstances, person and place, to be objective about the end result. I always let other people edit my shows, book, articles, etc. because I can’t remove my emotions.
What challenges you to create images?
Happiness, frankly. I create cause it brings me joy. It’s not something I come by easily in my life, so I try and make things I am proud of.
When it comes to gear — do you think having a certain setup affects your ability to produce quality content?
Not at all. Familiarity with your equipment helps because it becomes an extension of yourself and doesn’t require you to get distracted by technical stuff, but ultimately, it should never get in your way. My last show had images from medium format cameras that cost thousands, a $100 point-and-shoot, and a disposable. If you're trying to capture a feeling, the equipment should not be the deciding factor.
How does a perfect day look like for Noah Jashinski?
It involves coffee. A lot of coffee. Haha! A perfect day involves some sort of authentic connection I think. Obviously, a day of shooting is always perfect to me. But a simple day with a significant other is kind of equally as beautiful. Do some cooking, watch a good movie, some physical activity. I like to keep things quiet and simple cause my brain is so loud and at times, unmanageable.
Lastly, what's next for you?
I am moving to Nashville, Tennessee at the at the end of the month! Shot a couple projects recently, but I'm hoping to dive into some new stuff with some new faces when I settle in. I have a couple of conceptual movements I want to try that I haven’t tested just yet. Once I get the logistics sorted, I can create more freely. Things have been slow lately, especially finding platforms to share my work.
I have been blocked from social media more times than I can count and has made me a bit jaded. For many years, I have fought against the fact that it is permissible to broadcast on suicide, rape, illicit drug use, war, etc. in national media, but, to this day (in the US at least), a nude human body causes an uproar. Many lash out, report to powers that be, and seek by any mean’s necessary to censor something that, in my opinion, needs no censoring. Hoping the move inspires me and gets the fire started again.