Today’s interview is a little late but I wanted to hold out for the information. This is probably the most fascinating photographer I’ve come across. I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll let Lori explain her work. Now once your finished reading it leave your comments below, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Lori Nix. I live and work in Brooklyn, NY. By day I am a color printer for a commercial color lab in Manhattan, by night and weekend, I sequester myself in my apartment and build meticulous landscapes and architectural interiors and photograph them.
What inspired you to get started in photography?
I’ve always learned things in reverse. I gravitated towards photography in college when I went to work for the college newspaper as the darkroom tech. My job responsibilities included developing rolls upon rolls of film and printing the photographs for the weekly edition. I eventually became the photo editor and knew pretty quickly that I wasn’t much of a photojournalist. Breaking news and I just don’t go hand in hand. I much preferred the darkroom process and working with my hands, so I naturally gravitated towards “constructed photography”.
What gear do you take to each shoot and what lens can you not live without?
All of my shoots take place in my apartment. Most of my apartment is dedicated to building and shooting dioramas. I have power tools, glue, foam, paint and wood scattered throughout my living space. Once I’ve finished the diorama, I drag an 8×10 Cambo Legend in front of the scene, put on a 165mm Schneider Super Angulon lens, and shoot. This wide angle lens helps me capture the diorama in a relatively tight amount of space, practically placing the camera inside the physical diorama.
How do you market yourself and has social media been an important part?
I market myself mainly on my web site, www.lorinix.net. Any sort of commercial and editorial assignments I receive come directly from editors seeing my work on my website and contacting me.
I’m slow to embrace social media such as Facebook. I’m weary of putting too much personal information out there, and I rarely post anything other than picks of what I’m working on lately.
What’s your favorite photo that you’ve taken and does it have any significance?
One of my favorite images is from 2001 and it’s called “Floater”. Back in college I worked a couple of summers on a river boat in Missouri. Every morning while boarding the boat, I would look at the shoreline and check to see what might have come down the river in the night. I always expected to see a body in the water,but am glad I never saw one. When I created the scene, I feel I got the quality of light perfect. It’s a grey, overcast day, a very somber color palette that gives the image it’s emotional weight.
Select a photo you have taken, explain how it was taken and how did you edit it?
Let’s look at Library from 2007. It took about five months to build. I start with drawing out the footprint of the building, keeping in mind angles, corner and how the light will illuminate the scene. I then consider the color pallete and what kind of emotion I want to convey. Then I calculate the scale of the scene. My assistant and I build most items from scratch, but there is always one thing I do not feel like building and go in search of it on the internet. For this scene it was the globe. I could buy a better one than I could build, therefore it’s size set the scale of the rest of the diorama. I constructed the walls out of foam and basswood, cardboard and hot glue. Once I have the shell of the building created, we get to work on the details. I spent the entire summer just making individual books out of foam, sanding them, painting and detailing them. My assistant created the trees, vitrines, chairs and tables. After many weeks and months, the scene was finally ready to be shot. I place my camera in front of the diorama, set the focus, and begin lighting the scene with various strobes. I’ll shoot a couple pieces of 8×10 negative film, take it to work for development, make contacts, and begin marking up the contact with notes on what I want to change (usually adding more lights). I go home, make the adjustments, shoot more film and go through the development and contact process again and again for several nights, sometimes up to two weeks, until I think I have the final image. I’ll then stay late at work and print a mural size print to see all the details such as focus and whatever cat hair might be visible, and check to see if I’ve left anything undone. Once I feel like I have the final image, I’ll shoot an extra piece of film, then dismantle the diorama and throw it away.
What processing tool do you use and do you believe in the camera doing all the work or in post ?
I’m very much a traditional photographer, dependent on film. I don’t do any Photoshop or post production. Whatever is on the negative is what I have to work with. I make traditional C-prints on Fuji color paper, therefore I let the camera do all the work. Since I have plenty of time to create the final negative, I try to do as little burning and dodging as possible.
Whets your favourite photography accessory other than your camera?
My favorite accessory other than my camera are my studio lights. I shoot Alien Bees with modifiers like spots and gobos. There lights are perfect for my setup because they’re small and portable. I don’t have a lot of extra room to work, so small is good.
Where do you prefer to post your photos online and why there?
I post all my photos, both fine art and commercial, on my website www.lorinix.net. It’s comprehensive and easy to navigate. Any sort of commercial or editorial jobs have come directly from art directors seeing my work on my website.
Do you ever get photographers block and if so what do you do to get inspired again?
I’m fortunate that I haven’t had photographers block in a while, though my fear is that when I’m done with my City series, it will be there waiting with open arms to grab me and drag me down. My dioramas take so long to build that I get about three done a year. I have a list of future scenes that I want to build, so this will keep me busy for awhile. I’m already thinking of the next series, though nothing has really blossomed yet. The way I get inspired whenever I do have a block is to work through it. I’ll make a scene or two that will be throw-away scenes, not worth showing to anyone, but they will help form new avenues of discovery.
Is there anything you wish you had done when you first started in photography that would of made a difference?
No, I’ve done a lot of different kinds of photography, black and white, alternative processes and such. Each one has added something to the way I work now.
Any advice for new photographers wanting to go pro?
Have reasonable expectations. Success takes a while to find you so have patience and keep on working. Be nice and most importantly, put yourself out there.