An Interview With Nicole Small by Catalin CROITORU

An Interview With
Photographer and Artist
Nicole Small
by Catalin CROITORU

 Copyrights To Nicole Small © All Rights Reserved

Copyrights To Nicole Small © All Rights Reserved

Fine Art Portrait Photographer Specializing in Black and White Portraiture

My journey into photography all started out in the world of fashion. Yet, as time passed, I discovered that I could not really believe in or empathize with the customs and idioms of fashion photography. I was disturbed by what “comes through” in fashion along with the constant false reminders of how “perfection” and “beauty” should be which has broken down our levels of self-esteem and self-acceptance.
I realized how powerful portrait photography could be and I wanted more out of it. I wanted something real and meaningful to emerge when I worked with a subject and did not want to cover up or take away from what I already saw as complete.

Whether it is a classic standard portrait or a creative one, my goal is to bring out a real and honest you. Everybody is unique and I want to bring that part of you to life in your personal photographs.





Art Market Magazine:
It is a pleasure to have you here, Nicole! Thank you for taking time to talk to us.
– Thank you for the invitation! I am really honored.

AM: You live in Montreal, you picture people from Montreal, your studio is in Montreal; what makes this city so special for your photographic work?

That is a very good question indeed. I was born in Montreal and so Montreal has been my comfort zone. The place where everything began and where everything has happened and is happening.
I would say in the last few years, my mind has expanded to the out of bounds of Montreal. Living here in Montreal as an artist and photographer is not what it used to be. Response to my work resides away from home, which is a direction I will soon need to take.
Montreal has been great when I was learning, developing and growing, but now I have to move on to a different place.


Copyrights To Nicole Small © All Rights Reserved

AM: Your daily work is in a hospital, but your passion is about photography. How and when all it started? How is it possible that two different fields to make you so special?

It is crazy being in two completely different worlds, but it has helped me to balance things out at the same time and in turn has driven me to want to excel, do and try different things. I think it is so important no matter how much dedication you have on any idea or project to space yourself away from it, otherwise you are calling for a burn out and this I know from experience.
I have found myself at times being able to think more clearly on ideas that I have had brewing in my head, or realize solutions to projects when I am at my “other” job, (*the hospital*). There is a push that comes about that I like with having that separation from time to time and I have learnt to maximize and take things in stride. Time has become precious.

AM: Your career in the world of images has “two sides”, like a coin: the digital one, and the film one. Please tell us first about the time you were taking pictures with the help of a camera sensor…

It was very much hit and miss in the beginning because I did not really understand the technical part of using a camera. All I knew was that this was something I wanted to do and learn more about. The idea of being able to set a look and feel to a particular subject or scene fascinated me. My basic knowledge improved over time and once I understood how I could manipulate light and see light, that is when everything started. I began to look deeper into what and how I wanted to photograph. It was that simple to me at the time. As now comparing this to working with film… It is a whole new ball game. Many say this and it is a truth, working with film slows you down and it has pushed me to being more observant of what is happening around me and to what is directly in front of me. Composition has become more important than ever and I love what working with film has opened my eyes to and taught me.

Pinhole Portrait of Michel Copyrights To Nicole Small © All Rights Reserved

Pinhole Portrait of Michel Copyrights To Nicole Small © All Rights Reserved

AM: How did you decide to “switch” from high-tech cameras to the vintage ones, with film? What was that turning point of your career?

I honestly became very bored of the digital workflow, I felt that there had to be something more than just what it was. I was in a need to find something else and so I began researching extensively online and not only for photographers but in reference to the history of photography. This is what led me to open my eyes to a different direction and to the possibilities that I thought were no longer an option, so I ended up going back in time.
I would say the discovery of it is still possible to work with film and alternative processes was what changed everything for me creatively and artistically.

AM: How it looks a “photographic day” for you, Nicole?

My days vary all the time. Sometimes I can be set to work in a studio by testing out light, cameras and film. Other days can be just taking a drive to new places and photographing what is around me. Some may say I am obsessed and they are probably right! I eat, breath and sleep photography and each and every time it is something new and different.

AM: Are there artists that have inspired you and your work?

I am inspired by quite a few photographers and in different ways (in no particular order): Irving Penn, Mary Ellen Mark, Martin Schoeller, Anton Corbijn, Herb Ritts… Just a few mentioned here!

AM: What do you feel the moment you are pressing the shutter release? What do you want to show to the world through your images? What are you “hunting”?

I look for that pivotal moment where they let go. There is always a moment where you can see real emotion and movement come through. The shoulders lower, the eyes get a twinkle, (kind of hard to explain), the body moves differently and this moment can happen on and off for short periods within a session.. Or it explodes and shines through from beginning to end. What I look for is that real exchange of communication and that does not only mean between the subject and me, it also includes the exchange within themselves. These are the moments when they let go and forget the studio setup, the camera and the need to act unlike themselves.

AM: You were steady in your work with the photo cameras for more than seven years; what were the “downs” and the “heights” of this freelance career? What was the most challenging moment of all?

As far as the downs go, it is such a disappointment when you agree to work collaboratively with another artist, organization or what have you and at that offering your services for free, to then realize in the end that nothing has been honored at what was agreed upon and that is not being credited for any of the final work. More and more I find that it is no longer about collaborating and creating TOGETHER, it has become just about getting the content needed in the way it is wanted and that is the end of that.
Another down has been trying to get projects and ideas realized and completed, but this is something to expect!
The heights throughout those years has been all the great people I have been so lucky to meet and to photograph. The hair, makeup and stylists I have gotten to work with and grow with when I was just starting out. The people and fans, I have gotten to know and connect with from all over the world and who have shown great respect and support.
I cannot forget to add my turn to photographing with film. This has been a high in my photographic career and I am loving every moment of it.

Read the full article on Art Market Magazine Issue#37

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