Rumors of my demise…

I’m still alive.  I’ve had a ton to write about as well, but the formula is broken without the images to accompany the narratives.  So I’ve put it all on hold while I’ve focused on making other kind of images using other techniques and technologies and concepts.  The deadlines for the various competitions I usually enter have come and gone.  I haven’t bought a monograph since December and I’ve largely retreated from Instagram except for my @nollergrams account where I’ve been posting my digital sketches.  So if I haven’t been commenting or liking or lol’ing it’s not personal.  I’m just nonexistent in that sphere.  The question is though, have those pursuits been as rewarding as analog street photography?  


The short answer is “not all of the time.”  


The long answer is more complicated but worth sharing.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I find shooting digital a difficult circle to square.  The images feel flat, lifeless and lacking in value.  Highlights are wrong.  Shadows are wrong, contrast ratio is wrong and that’s just the aesthetic.  There’s there’s the physicality of it all.  That someone can spray at 10fps on their brand-new A7III and get lucky doesn’t strike me as a skill, it strikes me as equivalent to deer hunting with an AR-15.  Next comes all the Lightroom and Photoshop processing and we’re left with Frankenstein’s monster–a flat, lifeless foggy mirror of reality predicated by an “a la mode” view of current street photography trends.  And I’m not saying that I’m right and nor am I saying that my view is the only view.  I’m just saying it’s the only view that works for me. 


Well fuck that.  


I decided to build my own realities instead.  I realized that if some portion of what I was making was going to possess any single quality I despise with digital street photography then the only solution was to create a reality where none of it was real and thereby not bound to the same stupid dogma I so desperately cling to with my analog themes.  So I kicked my 3d learning into high gear.  It was the only way to break the chain so I decided to shatter that shit into a million tiny pieces.  I started small and built my way up until small props and pieces of my vision came slowly into focus.  Those pieces built on top of each other until I had scenes.  And as I keep learning and those scenes began to move and flow and have their own stories to tell.  I’m not sure I know what those stories are all the time but ultimately I know who’s voice their being told in.  


Mine and only mine.  


I’ve thought about posting those images here on this blog from time to time, but it doesn’t feel right.  They are opposing dichotomies to some extent and holistically intertwined to another.  No Face’s coin.  I have a few ideas for a series of images that could bind these two pursuits together but I’m still not capable enough of an artist so it remains an idea.  Maybe one day I will be but one thing’s for certain, I feel like I have found a side of me that I lost at some point when I was a child.  There’s something so incredibly lego about this creative process, but unlike lego, when I extend beyond my limits it’s super frustrating and I long for those metal-wrought limits of a camera and an uncooperative street scene–it’s just so much easier to come to grips with bridging that reality.  


Shot with my dear old Mamiya6MF on Kodak Tri-X 400 film, push-processed +1 at the Icon.  


Timothy

There are few people that I call good friends.  


I think a lot of of it has to do with the fact that I’ve never really been good at being a friend to another male adult.  I have a hard time connecting with my gender on a personal level, especially the American variety.  When I’m around other guys I find myself wondering why the hell they are talking about what they are talking about.  Not always but often, I can sit there, somewhat quiet considering how it’s possible to have so much to say about a subject that really amounts to nothing in my mind.  In the midst of these conversations my mind just floats away until someone yanks me back down from whatever cloud I’m floating away on, back down into the depths of a massive discussion about what brand of power tools are better.  Or the Superbowl.  Or MMA.  I just don’t care.


I’m not saying I’m above these conversations and their perpetrators.  In fact quite often I feel the exact opposite.  I sit there, deep in the throws of a full-blown bro-convo (brovo?), feeling stupid and inept at not having anything insightful to add, thereby left with no way of tightening the emotional tethers connecting me to another male human therein creating what normal humans call “a friendship.”


Every once in a while though someone breaks through to me.  Such was the case with Tim, who was one of the first people I met when we moved to Santa Monica.  Conversation was fluid and came with a degree of ease I didn’t know was possible. Our world-views were very similar as was our family situations.  We both worked in “the industry” and had a similar appreciation/disdain.  It was a total bromance and it continues to this day.  


Now I won’t bore you with many details suffice one important one.  Of all the qualities I could praise in my friend, I would say that Timothy is the best father I’ve ever met.  He is loving and caring at the same time as being consequent and impactful.  He balances his frustration and his praise perfectly and I often find myself standing in awe of both how wonderful he is with not just his own children but how wonderful he is with all children.  


A few weeks back Tim and his two kids showed-up at my house, totally out of the blue.  He told me that Elliot had facetime’d him a couple hundred times asking him to come over for a few rounds of “Let’s Dance 2018,” on the console.  After an hour of singing at the top of their lungs and presumably dancing until they were out of breath, everyone emerged from Elliot’s room, horse, sweaty and completely danced-out.  We all said our goodbyes and I caught Tim in a tight embrace (that maybe lasted a little too long) just as he was trying to get out the door.  We broke, shook hands and smiled.  “Thank you” I said.    


He’s one of the best men I know.  Shot on my Leica M7 on Kodak Tri-X film, pushed +1 at the Icon. 


Worthy

I’ve had to make a few changes in my life for 2018.   We’ve always had a comfortable lifestyle, the Noellert family.  We’re not wealthy or even rich or affluent, but we’re not middle class.  Ester says were “bougie” from time to time which makes my face do this weird sideways smirk that makes people ask me if I’m in a bad mood.  That may be historically more correct than she knows but then let’s call it like it is, we’re haute bourgeoisie.  I like that more.


Our bougie lifestyle has meant Ginya and Malibu Farms quite often.  Shoppigs sprees for tops from Urban Outfitters, bottoms from Brandi Melville and a that new pair of Superstars.  Sketchboxes, Chatbooks and New York Times a-plenty–Netflixes and Spotifys and Apples galore.  You want iPhones?  We’ve got 20.  But who cares, no big deal, we buy more.


And so it goes.  The money comes and the money goes and as I try to stop the bleeding there are obvious things that can be quickly culled.  Simple subscription services are canceled with the swipe of a finger.  Budgets can be created for food and for shopping.  Tough choices need to be made for sure, but none so tough as the realization I had a couple weeks ago.  


I need to stop shooting film–maybe forever but at least for 2018 and while that realization feels like my soul is being ripped apart, between my stock and processing costs, if I’m going to get ahead of my finances I have to stop shooting on a physical medium.  So I’ve begrudgingly packed-up all of my favorites–the Leica M7 and the Mamiya 6MF and the Hassy and the FM2–in their respective bags and put them in the closet.  I have a couple rolls left to shoot out but I’m saving them for Mardi Gras or Stockholm this summer.  I am Jacks wasted life.  


I’ve charged up my M9 and taken it with me the past couple weekends.  It feels all wrong.  It goes to sleep sometimes and doesn’t wake-up in time to make the image.  Sometimes it won’t turn on at all, sometimes it refuses turn off.  It feels kinda right in the the hand but I’m shooting tons more and find I’m concentrating significantly less.  I find myself chimping.  But worst of all the images themselves feel worthless because somewhere in my head I know that they cost nothing to make.  Not only that but there’s no physical record of what had to happen for that image to exist–the image only exists when I look at it on my laptop or on the back of the camera.  Then there’s the aesthetic of the image–the just don’t look right.  The gamma is wrong, the contrast is wrong.  The colors are wrong, the sharpness is wrong, the highlights clips, the shadows are shit.  WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.  It’s all fucking WRONG.    


I feel fucked.  So much so that I don’t really feel like shooting anymore.  So much so that I don’t feel like sitting in lightroom and even importing these wrong images.  So much so that I don’t much care to process my last 10 rolls of film because just seeing those processed negs is just going to depress me more.  So much so that I have bothered to write a daily for at least week.  So much so that I don’t have the energy to will to post.  In the back of my mind there’s this nagging feeling.  The images that I make have always had an inherent value to me partially because I know that each and every one had a cost attached to them and I made those images because I thought that each and every one was worth that cost.  How am I supposed to feel when I can’t really afford the cost of my art anymore?  I’ve always thought my images were film worthy, but maybe they weren’t after all and what’s the point of doing something if it no longer brings you joy.  


Shot on my Leica M7 at 35mm on Kodak Portra 800 and processed at the Icon.


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