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A Magazine for Sheffield

Nathan Gibson: Capturing the Sheffield Winter

Nathan has been our in-house photographer for the last couple of years, and his work has graced a multitude of posters in the name of the cause, so it seems to make sense to have him decorating our first proper web edition. He arrived a few weeks ago from Glasgow, clutching a Victorian cello and all his darkroom equipment. What you see in this issue is the result of him snapping, then developing and printing, on a beautiful 1930s compact enlarger in an alarmingly cold stairwell tucked away in my studio. What I really like about Nathan's images is how he works to capture moments. Hours spent walking the town, then sitting and waiting for the perfect subject. His healthy disregard for proper practice - allowing the films and the procedure of printing to build up its own grime without needless interaction - is something that would usually make me pull my hair out, but in this case I can't help but attach to his images. Every time I look at his work I will see new directions and experiments in what he's doing, and it makes me very happy. A lot of swearing (veering between Russian and English with gleeful abandon) made this happen. After some flawlessly produced photography last month, now is the time for some heartfelt dirt. BASICS PLEASE - WHAT STARTED YOU TAKING PHOTOS? I only really started taking photos properly a couple of years ago. More than anything else, this is a way for me to collect my impressions of what's going on around me and mark my territory. In my head at least. Since being a kid I've always wandered around the streets, fields and places I probably shouldn't be in search of greener pastures and I'm often happiest when on my own and on my feet. Every time I go somewhere new, I'll spend at least a few hours looking around and building a mental picture of the place. Having a camera with me gives me an excuse to take this further, provides a physical and mental barrier that allows me to take a step back from reality and a way of documenting the moments and patterns in my surroundings that strike me. I'm not much of a writer and I suppose in a way I'm exploring another method of putting together a diary with my pictures. CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF STARTING A NEW PIECE? Go outside. Start walking. As I said above, most of my photos are taken from my immediate environment. I'm generally more interested in reactions (of mine and of others) to what's going on, rather than attempting to create a particular situation intentionally. That said, I'm becoming more aware of things like portraiture, so my approach may change considerably in the near future. I take a lot of pictures of my friends, the floor, through the windows of public transport. Keep eyes and ears and access to media open for potential situations. I feel that I'm only just beginning. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM? Tesco. TOOLS - WHAT DO YOU USE REGULARLY AND WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE? I'm not too fussy. I've got a host of film cameras and a couple of DSLRs in various states of disrepair. Unless I have a particular aesthetic in mind beforehand, then if something takes pictures I'll pick it up and have a go. My approach to gear is pretty reflective of my personality - frustratingly blasé about some things and overly anal about others. I really enjoy making use of my hands and this project has given me the chance to spend some serious time in the darkroom, getting my mits dirty doing a bit of painting. I look at film and digital as being completely different mediums and mixing the two can give some pretty exciting results. I love really pushing my raw files and am starting to realise what an amazing tool Photoshop can potentially be. At the same time, it takes a special kind of obsessive compulsive to want to sit on their own in the dark for hours on end, playing with chemicals and counting mississippis. WHAT OTHER ARTISTIC MEDIA HAVE HAD AN EFFECT ON YOUR WORK? To give a rather predictable answer, I'd say that books were my first love and music my second. I love newspapers in that they often read like a soap opera. HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR DAYS? Coffee. Fags. Walking. Library. Gigs. Photoshop. Plotting world domination. Being early. Polishing my shoes. Ranting about Steve Reich. Wondering where the next meal is coming from. Bike. Bus. Train. Fags. Meeting people. Coffee. Photoshop - resulting in being late. Thinking about going to China. Singing along too loud. Dark room. Park. Guiness. House gigs. Library. Staring out the window listening to the traffic. Air guitar. Marmite on toast. Talking about the band we'll never start. Afrobeat and Norwegian Black Metal. Making notes. Cooking curry. Trying to stay warm. Reading in bed. Walking. Coffee. Library. Photoshop. Coffee. [imagebrowser id=1] OUT OF YOUR MOST RECENT WORK, WHICH PIECE HAVE YOU ENJOYED MAKING THE MOST? Reprinting the shot with all the reflections and the faceless man in the middle. I took it around a year ago, the last time I did a series for the magazine, and it's been obsessing me ever since. Simple composition but a lot of information and, just like all my favourite shots, a mix of intention and happy accident. HOW HAS ART IN GENERAL CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED? I get the impression that the concept of ownership is in a state of flux for numerous reasons. WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON? This issue of Now Then. I've spent the last few days either out on the street or locked up in the dark at the bottom of the stairs making prints, texturing and painting paper for colour and backgrounds, turning the bass up and wrestling the cat. I've been talking quite a lot with [designer] Matt Jones about the project and his input has been much appreciated, even if I didn't say so at the time. It's been fun and I always pick up a lot from the place where I'm currently situated. Due to having a few very good friends in Sheffield, I've been passing through every now and then for the last few years. Sheffield is a special place (puke). ANY TIPS ON HOW TO SURVIVE MAKING MONEY FROM YOUR WORK? Not really. I'm not a working professional at the moment. I do this because I love it; if I can find a way to make a living with it and be pleased with the work I'm producing, I'll be a very happy boy. WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE IN ART? Sentimentalism. WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE IN ART? Humour. Honesty. GOOD ADVICE YOU WISH YOU'D BEEN TOLD EARLIER? Life is what happens when you make other plans. )

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