David J. Nightingale

1. Please introduce us to David J. Nightingale? Where do you live, what do you do, what sort of music do you listen to, and what did you eat for breakfast this morning?

I was born in the North West of England in 1963 and currently live in Blackpool with my wife, four daughters, one son and three cats. I'm a lecturer in psychology at a UK university, with a special interest in notions of identity, subjectivity and more lately, visual imagery. When I have the time to listen to music I tend to favour ambient or dance music - Chicane, Brian Eno, and so on. And for breakfast this morning I had two cups
of coffee and a cigarette - I'm not a morning person ;-)

2. What is your photographic background?

I've been interested in photography since I was a child and often used to borrow my father's camera. Well, I say borrow; more accurately I would sometimes be allowed to use the camera to take photographs under close supervision. In my late teens I became interested again and did quite a lot of black and white photography and then in my early twenties, what with one thing and another, I stopped taking photographs. In retrospect I don't think there was a particular reason for this other than that everything else got in the way. About 15 years later I was given a FujiFilm Finepix camera for my birthday and gradually got back into taking photographs, later buying a Canon G5 and after that my 20D. I've had no formal training, either
aesthetically or technically, but would like the time to pursue the academic study photography at some point.

3. Why was Chromasia conceived, and how has it changed your approach to photography?

Initially, Chromasia (though it was called 'synchrony' in the first instance) started out as a fairly standard blog to which I added the occasional picture. After about six months though the photographs became the primary focus, so I redesigned the site, and chromasia was born. As for how it has changed my approach to photography: I'm not sure that it has. What it has done though, and this relates to the fact that I try to put up a new shot each day, is make me take more photographs. Without that incentive I don't think that I'd be anywhere near as productive as it would be much too easy to let other things get in the way - work, tiredness, and everything else.

4. Please tell us about "Photography for Airports."

At this stage there isn't a great deal to tell. It's an idea I'm working on for 'non-intrusive' photography, images that don't demand attention, rather they're just they're as a part of a visual environment. So far, I've not made much progress with the idea other than rewording Brian Eno's 'music for airports' philosophy, but it is still something I'm working towards.

5. Art often has very distinct marks of style. For example, if taken to an exibit of never-before-viewed paintings, we could still pick out "a Picasso," or "a Monet." If we took away the title *Chromasia* and all identifying markers, would visitors to your site recognize the photographs as "a Nightingale"? How would you describe your style?

I'm not sure that I can describe my style, mostly because I don't think that I have one, at least not a single one that can be clearly defined. Again, this is something that I'm constantly thinking about but for the moment I feel as though my photography, in terms of both content and style, is rather eclectic. That said, I guess that some of my landscapes are quite recognisably chromasian in style - bright, colourful, minimal. I don't know, I guess I should be able to answer this question ... maybe it's easier to recognize someone else's style rather than describe your own.

6. Family ­ You have a wife, a job, 4 children, and you manage to run the most popular photoblog in the world. How do you balance the necessary time commitments and what role does your family play in your photography?

My wife and children and extremely supportive, both in terms of putting up with me spending ages working on chromasia and as willing subjects for my photographs. Time is sometimes a problem though, as it is in everyone's lives, and I have far too many late nights, but on the whole Chromasia is something that just seems to get done along with everything else.

7. Ethics of Photoshop - As an unashamed photoshop user (and I might add - master), in your mind, what are the pros and cons of digital editing as it relates to your work?

Thanks. Without digital editing, chromasia wouldn't exist. First, it's much quicker - I wouldn't really have the time to produce as much work by more traditional means, and second, it's something that I've managed to understand and control. When I was younger, I did a lot of black and white printing, but was rarely happy with the final prints - it was an approach that I just couldn't master. Digital editing, on the other hand, is something I find much more natural - I understand how it works and can produce work that meets my expectations.

8. Angst ­ The theme for this issue of Bending light magazine is angst. Would you talk about "A World Without Angels." What in this image resonates with you?

This image is one of my personal favourites, mostly I think because it illustrates the divide between those of us who are comfortable in our lives from those of us who are not, especially in terms of illustrating the distress that disadvantage can cause. I guess my hope, for this image and others like it, is that it causes people to pause, and to think through their relationship with people less fortunate than themselves rather than just walking by and not noticing.

9. You recently traveled to China ­ what were the best and worst experiences of that trip? How did it alter the way you approach photography?

The worst thing was that I was only there for a couple of days, the best was that I got to experience a culture vastly different from my own. I don't think it changed my approach in any way, but it did make me think more about how to interpret cultures that I'm less immediately familiar with.

10. I hear stories of cameras blown off cliffs, film dropped in rivers, photographers punched in the face by unwilling subjects ­ what is your worst photographic nightmare?

I guess I've been lucky, in that I haven't really had any particularly bad experiences beyond dropping my G5 and wrecking the lens. The only consequence of this was that I needed to revert to using my FujiFilm compact for a while until it was fixed. Actually, now I think about it, I decided to buy the 20D at much the same time so I guess it wasn't too much of a disaster.

11. Who is John Washington, and how has he impacted your work?

John is a fellow photographer, who lives relatively nearby, who I met through chromasia. We often go out shooting together and although we have quite different styles I think we work well together (we've shot a few weddings and projects together). What John has given me, that I probably would have struggled to develop without his input, is the ability to photograph people - both in terms of technical know-how and in relation to having the confidence to approach them in the first place. We also spend a lot of time discussing photography and blogging so I guess he's instrumental in helping me shape my thoughts on both topics.

12. Let's "pretend" I'm a songwriter with a digital camera gathering dust in the corner (based on a true story). Convince me to put down the guitar and start taking pictures.

Any art is an interpretative effort, a means to explore something the artist finds personally significant, so I guess I might attempt to challenge you to translate some of your ideas into the visual rather than acoustic medium.

13. Do you have long-term visions/goals for Chromasia? What can we look for in the coming months?

Chromasia, as in the blog, will probably continue much as it is, but I do want to develop other areas of the site. I'd like to have a better portfolio, other than just a category of portfolio images. I'd like to sell a few more prints so I'll be working on that aspect of the site. I'd also like to find the time to add a frequently asked questions section to the site as I often don't have time to respond to all the emails I receive. I've got as far as integrating the page, but at the moment it doesn't have any content.

14. You receive 3,000+ visits per day at your photoblog. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

Yes, thank you. Without the constant encouragement over the last few years I don't think that I would have taken anywhere near as many photographs, nor would I have tried as hard to develop my photography and Chromasia. There's an amount of pressure that comes to bear when you know that several thousand people will be dropping by to see something that they expect will meet a certain standard, and sometimes that's quite a daunting thought, but it's a pressure that I need, that I wouldn't be without, at least not by choice.

About The Author

David J. Nightingale is one of the worlds most popular photobloggers and the recipient of numerous distinctions, including a place as one of Time Magazine's Coolest Sites of 2005. His images have inspired thousands to pick up a camera and interact with their world in new and exciting ways. You can visit him at www.chromasia.com.

David Shirk is a freelance photographer and avid photoblogger. You can visit him online at: davidshirk.blogspot.com.

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