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With a portfolio of photographs that cross the continents, Jim Nilsen uses his camera to capture the color, hue and flavor of the world. In his travels, he has toured everywhere from Italy, America, Mexico, France and Italy. Recently he took a break to chat with AD Mag. Here’s what transpired:
The Flavor of Photography
An Interview with Jim Nilsen
by Max Eternity
The spiritual nature of art – photography; can you talk about capturing the moment? Some photographers say is it a form of meditation?
When I do happen upon a scene in my travels that excites me, it does have a sense of timelessness — flow, being very much in the moment. I have been asked by viewers of my photographs why I composed an image in such a way or why did I choose to photograph it in the first place………this if frustrating for me to answer because I am really not aware of why. I don’t want to know why. During the creative process, the less thought process, the better…the more intuitive it feels.
Choosing the pallet…color?
Again, choosing in not conscious but paying attention to my reaction and excitement level upon viewing a scene is how I work. Of course, most of my pallet choices are vibrant. Originally they were enhanced with Velvia, and now with [digital atmospherics] Photoshop. It is interesting to me in all my travels in Latin America, the Mediterranean Europe, and Rajasthan, in all the small towns and villages I find a lot of color in the architecture. But, not all of the colors schemes go together in a pleasing combination.
I sometimes walk into a village and am blown away by how much color there is, which doesn’t feel right. Collectively, it would seem that the population of the village does not have a very artistic talent for color combos. So, I often compose house facades with the vertical lines of two different properties being designated by color. It can make for a very pleasing and complete composition if the colors go together.
What about using the camera as canvas and brush?
I have never really thought of the camera as canvas and brush but I certainly have begun to think that way now using digital tools; with Photoshop. I like being able to do a few or multiple little things in Photoshop; making an image come to life. Often it is as simple as dodging and burning different areas of the scene.
Do you have any projects you’re currently working on; new goals?
My style of course has changed. Initially, I would visit a country in search of interesting and colorful facades. I would just roam with very little intent other than finding a Golden Easter Egg. It was a lot of fun but I would often strike out. I am not more intent on visiting new places to photograph very specific scenes. I am happy to visit old places where I’ve already been. For example, I am returning to Tuscany this spring and will be visiting numerous scenes that I have mapped out on two previous trips.
I am thinking about a book project but I don’t want it to be a blatant showcase of my work. I would like to come up with a topic; a title [category] perhaps that my work may fall into. Then go from there. One example of this is Hans Silvester’s book: “The Mediterranean Cat”. It’s a great marketable subject with amazing images as well.