“When you take a photograph with thought behind it you are saying that whatever it is you see unfolding at that moment is worth framing, and whatever feeling that scene ignites is something that needs to be shared. The preservation of an experience that you can share with others.”
Nicholas Pinto (born in 1979) is a photojournalist, currently based in Chicago Illinois. He studied photography at Columbia College Chicago.
“Everything has something mystical at its core to appreciate and observe with certain amazement. It is with this belief, that this world becomes a photographic dream.”
Interview with Nicholas Pinto
Nicholas, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
Shooting a story about the projects in my hometown of Chicago as one of the “Public Housing Buildings” was being demolished. I felt the building shaking from the wrecking ball on the other side of the building. I really wanted to preserve this environment on film before it was destroyed and I was able to do so. It was a great experience.
Why did you become a photographer?
I never really thought I would be a photographer or even work in the arts. The first time I took a photo on a 35mm camera I was 21 years old. The process of slowing down and framing life was something that attracted me instantly.
And why photojournalism?
I think photojournalism is just the natural progression of my shooting style. When you find something interesting, the more time you explore it you begin to see the story unfolding in front as you edit down your shots.
It is quite an organic process once you spend enough time shooting one subject.
What does photography mean to you?
For me photography is a form of preservation and a way to communicate with others.
What do you want to transmit with your pictures?
When you take a photograph with thought behind it you are saying that whatever it is you see unfolding at that moment is worth framing, and whatever feeling that scene ignites is something that needs to be shared. The preservation of an experience that you can share with others.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
“He was ahead of his time for having the ability to see an America most didn’t know existed.”
Robert Frank. “The Americans” is widely considered the greatest photography book made. What is inspiring about that is he didn’t spend 10 years creating it, he had an idea based in this American Environment he found himself in and documented it beautifully.
He was ahead of his time for having the ability to see an America most didn’t know existed. Ad to that he was able to create this book in a little over a year of shooting. That is extreme focus.
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory.”
Henri Cartier Bresson
How would you describe your photographic language and way of working?
I try to speak for the underdog, or subjects that don’t really have much of a voice of their own. It could be a person, a building, anything really. My way of working is to follow by instinct the things that attract me and find out why I was attracted to that moment during the shooting process.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
Technically it s all about framing, I try to avoid cropping as much as possible because framing the photo is such a big part of my process. Using the entire frame is a good place for me to start the process.
Conceptually my process is to share what it is I am feeling about the world or myself, or both using images. It’s a shared experience.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photojournalist need?
Sensitivity. Sensitivity to the world gives you vision, philosophers call this a “third eye”. To tell a story or even shooting a single image well, you need to feel it with your mind and heart first.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
In my opinion the basis of a truly great photo is one that translates to anyone easily. A great photograph speaks to others whether shot on film, and iPhone, or any camera.
What do you consider to be the greatest changes photojournalism has gone through in recent years and what will be the challenges in years to come?
“The greatest challenge I have faced is to keep what it is you’re doing as important in such a highly saturated field.”
There are so many more photos being shot today than there were even 10 years ago due to the Iphone/digital revolution. The greatest challenge I have faced is to keep what it is you’re doing as important in such a highly saturated field. To put all this time, money, and effort into your craft, but still share it and let it go out into the world.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I draw inspiration from projects that are what is happening in my own life at that moment in time. Inspiration comes from many places. It could be a sunset, a movie I watch, anywhere really. Anything that makes you see the world as a new place again is inspirational for my work.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Leica X1 and M3. I am most comfortable shooting 35mm.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I enjoy Eric Kim’s site.
What photography book would you recommend?
Magnum Contact Sheets. Why? To see the process of some of the masters that came before you is really a great tool for any photographer.
“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.”
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?
Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, and always do it for the love of photography first and foremost.