D.Smith: What were the biggest events that affected your photography? And how did they change you?
A.Niccolai: I’d have to say they were my travelling experiences that had the most profound affect on me. They changed me in every way imaginable.
Do you consider the viewer when you’re making your projects? I mean, do you care about what they’ll take from your work, if they’ll like it?
Creating a work of any kind is an act of communication therefore the aim is to lend the material as much clarity as is possible without compromising it in anyway. You work in service of the project. It makes demands and you do your best to adequately respond. Of course one cares what people take away from the experience but what you can't do is anticipate a specific viewer's response to it or have one in mind whilst creating it. The strength of an idea comes from its internal logic, that it’s true to itself. That the photographs might speak to a very small number of people isn't its concern. The main consideration is that the essence of the work is uncompromised and communicated to the best of your abilities.
Obviously, i am incredibly grateful to those who've stuck with me, given me the benefit of the doubt, and taken pains to understand the reasons and the possible benefits for the, sometimes radical, changes in my output.
What makes you take photos, and how do you judge the value of the output?
I shoot when i know something to be there... its shadow follows me around. I dabble, i dream, and slowly what was tenuous at best begins to take abstract form in your mind prior to taking absolute form.
What do you “talk” about in your images?
I “talk” about how I experience the world.
Can a person really tell a story that didn't happen to himself?
Yes..if the story is a means of transmission. The important elements are the philosophical and emotional authenticity that underlie the work.
Are there physical places on the planet that are of ultimate internal resonance for you?
There are several places around the globe that resonate for me but I couldn't claim that one has ultimate internal resonance. Nowhere is “home” for me... or i could say that potentially everywhere could be “home”.
So..do you feel as a foreigner in foreign countries?
In many of the countries i’ve been culture is relatively easy to negotiate...in some nations i feel somewhat alien.
What kind of dynamic would you try to create in assembling some particular photos in a particular order?
Firstly there’s the issue of continuity. When images come together that weren’t intended to be seen in the same context you might find some interesting contrasts and a certain amount of friction, I think.
Your personality seems to be somewhat introverted or introspective. Would you agree that this trait makes for better personal insight, but a reluctance to actually share it…you’ve got something to say but don’t really feel like saying it, whereas many artists are the opposite?
Yes, i’d agree that introspection leads to a greater clarity of insight which is something we’re all the better for. Being somewhat introspective tends to make one wish for a more private existence but as a creative person I tend to share work which i feel might be of interest or beneficial in some capacity or another. I suppose that comes down to a simple inclination to be of service, to live a life in which one gives back.
Spirituality is obviously extremely important to you. What would you say is the bigger force in your life, art or spirituality, or are the two intertwined?
Being is the biggest force in life. Learning how to simply be in the world. Art is born out of that experience, spirituality defines it either by its presence or absence.
Do you believe the evolution of digital photography is substantially impacting the perceived importance of photography?
Yes, but this will change and evolve in ways that will prove interesting and satisfying. I fully expect the visual component to become more elaborate, more an integral element of the entire experience. Once the physical product is all but obsolete we will see dramatic developments in this area. The digital photography also does away with the notion of format. People are now at liberty to offer up work that isn't defined by medium. You can send images to clients using e-mail. You can post a gallery of your photographs on the internet. You can import images into a range of computer applications to create presentations, newsletters, magazines, and much more. And this is just the start. Already it is possible to have your images sent automatically to a picture desk or photo agency as you shoot. On the other hand I could say "Have you ever worked in a darkroom? Have you seen a photo appearing on paper just like magic?" The analog world of photography was an experience I wouldn’t want to be without. So I keep taking photographs with my film cameras too.
By D. Smith