Interview by Tony Batur


TB: What is the concept of your project?

 NS: At first I was just taking pictures of people. Last semester I was doing street portraits so I would just go out and wander the streets and would ask people to pose for a picture for me or would just look for interesting photos out on the street. This semester, I wanted something a little more domestic, so I started posting e-mails to list-servs asking people if I could come to their houses and photograph them. It started out with just kind of a domestic focus on different families, but it turned into a project about boyhood because at some point I realized that everyone I was taking pictures of was some kind of young boy. It became interesting because I was taking pictures of boys at different stages of their lives, it kind of has turned into a process of observing how these boys were growing into their manhood and just growing up.


TB: So the idea for the project was somewhat spontaneous?

 NS: I don’t like to set my boundaries before I photograph, I like to explore and see where it takes me and then tailor it down from there. I feel like photography is sort of this organic process where you just take pictures and something sort of emerges from the photos.


TB: How spontaneous are your photos in terms of how you organize and frame them?

 NS: It varies by person, but nothing is completely staged. The younger kids, I don’t stage at all. They just run around and I have to find the right moment and capture them. I do have to give [the subjects] some direction because they are conscious of the camera and that self-consciousness definitely is a factor. I also think that self-consciousness is a big part of growing up and of being a boy. The youngest ones don’t have that level of self-awareness yet. They’re aware of the camera and that I’m there, but they aren’t acting for it. And then you have Sterling [the boy with the glasses], who’s a very confident kid, who still doesn’t care what the world thinks about him, but there is a sort of vanity that emerges. And then you have the boy who’s nineteen and there’s a sense of being affected by what the world thinks of you and playing a part for the camera. And you also see the shaping of innocence, when boys are young they view the world differently from when they’re nineteen and you can see that with how they react to the camera.



TB: I like the photos of the oldest boy, could you talk more about those?

 NS: For him, because it was at his house, there are these icons of boyhood, like the weights around, which adds a layer to the photos. Also, the table [in the other picture] has feminine adornments, which contrasts to his masculinity. He’s also not completely masculine, there’s this androgynous nature to the way he’s posing and looking at the camera, which is interesting too.



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