Behind The Lens: Nicole Ferrari

Nicole Ferrari Photography Collab w/ Jay Schimpf

Acres: Nicole, we really love your work and are excited to get the chance to ask you some questions about your photography experiences. To start, we’d like some info on your camera and equipment list. Are you using any new techniques, old cameras, interesting styles? We’d love to know about your digital and film cameras as well as what you really enjoy shooting with the most.

NF: I recently just upgraded to the Canon Mark 5D II (mainly used with the Canon Ultrasonic Zoom Lens EF 24-70mm). I was using a Canon Rebel Xsi for the past four years with the stock lens as I wasn’t in a financial position to upgrade to anything better at the time.  I mainly shoot with my digital cameras, as it allows for quick and reliable shoots out in the field (a well as in studio). However, I learned photography mainly with traditional film on my grandfather’s old Pentax SLR.  It was this big clunking thing I used in high school photography classes.  I actually still have it for the fond memories but it has since been retired. In my inventory I keep a film model of the Canon Rebel Xsi in case I choose to do something with film or the darkroom.

Acres: Your work seems to inform surreal elements with realistic imagery. For example, I noticed this unique picture of the egg. You’ve really transformed a normal realistic photo into something with far more substance. Can you tell us a little bit about this photo? What were the key elements and was there a theme you were trying to follow? Is there a sense of surrealism or emotion in this image that I am catching onto?

NF: I was working in the studio with the main purpose of completing some still life images, but I wasn’t drawn to the typical flower or fruit bowl shots one might think of. I wanted to explore food up close and personal, and to push the viewer to see it in a different way.  The series included pumpkins, mushrooms, peppers, and even a big slab of meet.  But the eggs were the trickiest to shoot, mainly because they lacked any real visual interest besides their shape, but I felt like that was too cliché.  So I decided to crack one open and look inside.  What I think makes this photo powerful is the up close and personal view a person gets with the egg and the delicate yolk floating amidst the jagged edges. If you get a sense of emotion in reaction to the image then I feel like I did my job.

Acres: I really love how you’re investigating the idea of macro photography while still allowing the viewer to understand what the object is. Changing from your surreal subjects, please tell us a little bit about your fashion shooting experience – the photos from your site are really great.

NF: Thank you. Most of my fashion work has been done for private shoots, or for my college’s fashion blog “Loyola Looks.” (Loyola University) I have also done some product shots for Pauline Rader Jewelry.  Most of the time I am approached and asked to do the shoots, but it is also great to have a lot of eager friends who aren’t camera-shy.  Largely for the Loyola shoots I would have a rough idea of the concept, whether it would be outside or in studio and what would look good on the models in that setting.  But once everything is set up, it’s like the shoot has a mind of its own and I love where it takes me.  That could be said for most of my work.

Acres: The self-portrait of you hovering immediately caught my attention. To create a featured image for Behind The Lens I have taken this photo and added some design ideas to make a new collaboration. The intent behind our collaboration is to investigate the surreal imagery you present to your audience. What do you do to set up these scenes? Is it spur of the moment or extremely strategized? How do you develop your concepts?

NF: Actually this one was done with my film camera in the studio with a self timer.  The basic set up of the shoot was to strategize the look and set, however I like to play and improvise, if I have some time to myself…so oftentimes some of the best shots aren’t planned.  In this particular shot, I had been in the studio for a while playing with different props and poses.  I could say that the setup of the studio lent itself to my inspiration.

Acres: At Acres we want to always inform our viewers about your professional strategies, experiences and exhibition history. We feel that as a diverse group of artists and musicians it’s really important to put the focus on how contemporary photographers are changing the path of the current art world. Please tell us a little bit about your current work and experiences.

NF: I am the owner and photographer for my freelance business, Nicole Ferrari Photography. I just graduated from Loyola University Maryland with a B.A. in Photography, Writing, and a minor in Art History. During my school years I interned at Maryland Art Place and Cosmopolitan Magazine.  I also worked as the Director of Photography for “Loyola Looks.”  My most recent exhibitions include a group show called “Survival” at the Baltimore Hostel, a group show called “Facemask” at Zhou B Art Center in Chicago, and in Photographer’s Forum annual “Best of Photography” 2001 book.

Acres: Where does your inspiration come from and how does it inform your work? For example with the egg, was it based off of an experience or is it something more profound?

NF: My inspiration comes from anything, really.  Even something as small as a grocery store-bought egg can influence my work, and I am sure a lot of other artists would agree. I think that a lot of it is subconscious, that is why it is hard for a lot of artists to even explain their own work or where it came from. I probably draw a lot upon my past memories or experiences, or in response to certain artistic movements in present society or that I may have learned about through my studies as an Art History minor in college.  We all play off of things that we see and even other people’s work.  Nothing is sterile or unrelated.

Acres: As a recent graduate, what are your plans for the future and what are some things that are coming to fruition that will lead you there?

NF: I am planning to continue my freelance work while I expand my skills into other areas as well.  I hope to break into the publishing industry, perhaps in the photo department of a newspaper or magazine in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. metro area.  I also have interest in gallery work (in addition to exhibiting myself). Long term, I plan to become more established and eventually open my own commercial photography studio.  Currently, I am in the early stages of planning my exhibition at the upcoming Parallax Art Fair in SoHo, New York City, from August 2nd-5th.

My website can be found here, which also provides my contact information. Additionally, you can follow me on Twitter @NFPhotograph and follow me on Facebook.

Acres: Thanks Nicole, it’s been great speaking with you and we hope that our viewers are just as intrigued by your artwork as we are!

~ Jay Schimpf

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