All things photography with Nicholas Calcott
Editorial portraiture, architectural, decor and interior photographer
This week we had the pleasure of speaking with the New York-based photographer, Nicholas Calcott. Clean and formal is the signature style of his work, whether he is shooting portraiture, architecture or interiors. Nominated as one of PDN's 30 New and Emerging Photographers To Watch, he has worked with high-profile clients such as Frieze and The New York Times. Speaking about all things photography, from Nicholas's favorite shoot to his 'go-to' camera, is a conversation with Nicholas Calcott.
How did your interest in photography come about?
I went to a High School that was very focused on the sciences. I first got interested in photography because of a High School photography teacher who taught me the physics behind photography. My interest in photography therefore first started with the science behind photography and this evolved into a hobby of taking pictures. Then, when I went to NYU for my undergraduate degree, I took classes on the artistic criticisms and theory of photography.
What is your work influenced by?
Much of my work is in environmental portraiture which has a lot of antecedents in renaissance paintings. That is the influence of my work. I try to work in a way that updates portraiture in a modern way.
Describe your photography in a few words.
Clean and formal.
What would you say has been one your most memorable shoots?
There have been a lot of memorable shoots. One of the more high profile shoots I did was for Frieze New York. The marketing campaign explored the lives of some of New York's most significant 20th century artists. That was a lot of fun to do. We did eight shoots, all of them on location at the old studios of the artists. The shoots that stand out the most to me are the ones that are least usual. For example shooting for NASA in Los Angeles was a lot of fun too, even though the shoot was just one image.
Why did you move from New York to Paris?
I had been in New York for about 7 years at that point and felt like it was time for a change. When I got to Paris, I pretty quickly met someone and ended up staying for 4 years or so.
Would you say the photography scene in Paris differs greatly from New York?
It definitely differs a lot. Paris is a much smaller city than New York, just in terms of sheer population, which in some ways makes it beneficial for a photographer as it makes it easier to meet people. New York is huge, which makes the photography scene more diffuse. Paris is also very much the centre of fashion photography, and if you’re not doing that, a lot of non french photographers based there focus on travel work which is a field I'm not very interested in. So in a lot of ways it was good for me as it allowed me the space to develop my own work, but on the other hand, it was tough to make a freelance living.
Photographers you look up to?
There's a huge list of photographers that I look up to. Just looking at my coffee table right now, I have books from established photographers such as Irving Penn and Taryn Simon. I would say I'm also very much inspired by Dean Kaufman, an editorial photographer based in New York. I worked for him for five years and he has had a huge influence on me.
Biggest lesson you’ve learned as a photographer?
Photography is not a sprint, it's a marathon. It sounds cliché, but it's true. Photography takes a long time and it's very rare to find success immediately.
For editorials, I like the Canon 5DS R most but I am always playing around with different cameras.
Plans for the next five years?
There are always clients that I would love to work with. I would like to do more sustainable projects as opposed to one-off projects. I love what I'm doing but it's nice to be able to dive deeper into a subject.