Beaches, bonfires, and the glory of the ocean. These are the images Australian photographer Joe Nigel Coleman uses to paint us a picture of his life. I first discovered him on Flickr, and was immediately enthralled by his talent. Anyone who has spent any time camping or traveling knows how difficult it can be to take a picture that really captures the glory of the experience. Joe seems to have an innate ability to capture that intangible something that makes these times so special.
Joe only shoots film, so all of the pictures you see below are devoid of any kind of Photoshop magic. Any effects you see are simply the result of light leaks and old cameras. His talent is undeniable, but what I appreciate most about his work is it’s unpretentiousness. I spend a lot of time on Flickr looking for inspiration and it always saddens me when I come across someone whose photography is obviously formulaic and overthought. There is something about “following the rules” of photography that strips the life out of an image. Joe’s photos are bursting with life. You never get the impression that he is trying to tell a particular story. Rather he lets the story tell itself through his images.
Joe granted me the honor of an interview, which it is my pleasure to share with you here:
Hometown: Newcastle, Australia
Q1: It’s apparent from your work that you spend a lot of time outdoors, and you have even described yourself as, “A travelling willbury”. How does nature, and your fairly nomadic lifestyle play into your photography?
A1: I’ve actually been working 9-5 in an office for the last six months which has been a bit difficult. Difficult to spend that much time under fluoro lights with air conditioning, and difficult to get motivated to shoot photos. But I do get outside and away a lot on weekends and I feel blessed to have so many amazing places nearby.
Q2: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A2: There are plenty of places I’d love to go, the list is endless. Before the year is through I hope to backpack through certain parts of South America and start the new year in Europe.
Q3: How did you first discover your love of photography and what keeps you coming back for more?
A3: I am a very visual person, so I suppose you could say it was a natural progression.
Q4: I’ve been an admirer of your photography for some time now, and a few themes I’ve noticed in your work are fire, the ocean, sunrises, and people walking (or facing) away from the camera. What is it about these things that keeps drawing your camera back to them?
A4: I am constantly in awe of nature and I love experimenting with light. I also like the mystery of photos which involve people facing/walking away from the camera. They seem to intrigue me, I want to know more: “Where are they going?”, “Where have they been?”. I suppose this sense of mystery is something I’d like to capture when I shoot photos like that.
Q5: You shoot film exclusively it seems. What is it about film that has you hooked and have you ever considered dabbling in digital? Do you have a favorite camera?
A5: For starters, I really like messing around with old manual cameras. It’s fun to see the results from combinations of different films, cameras, lens’ etc. Film somehow seems to capture moods and atmosphere more accurately. Also, the imperfections. Quirky colours/grains/marks/reflections, whatever, create something beautiful and unique. Nothing against digital though. As for a favourite camera, I’ve yet to find it. My Yashica SLR is pretty faithful.
Q6: What is one thing you love about Australia, and one thing you don’t care for so much?
A6: The wide open spaces, the ocean. There are a lot of people floating about with their eyes closed.
Q7: Many of your pictures include people with musical instruments. Are you a musician? Does music play a part at all in your photography?
A7: Yeah, I play the drums. Music is everywhere in my life, so yes, I’d say that it would rub off on my photography.
Q8: What does your perfect day look like?
A8: You would have to be there to understand.
Q9: Many of your photos seem to be carefully framed and considered, while others have a spontaneous feel to them, as if you are simply capturing your day-to-day adventures. That’s not to suggest that your “spontaneous” images are any less carefully framed, but I was wondering what you think about your own photographic process. Is there any insight you can give us on how you come up with some of the brilliant photos we see here?
A9: No, not really. I suppose I do have ideas on how I want my photos to come out, but I wouldn’t say there is any specific process that I go through when taking a photo. Usually photos will just jump out at me.
Q10: You were recently in the Sixteen Photographic Exhibition. How did it go, and what was it like rubbing shoulders with so many other talented photographers?
A10: Haha. The opening night was great, we ended up with a whole lot of alcohol sponsors which I think played a big part in packing the place out. I met some really good quality people. I think only one work was sold the whole month the show was open. But you know, sales wasn’t really the idea behind it.