San Diego resident Nick Nacca doesn’t pull punches, especially when it comes to his photography. That’s a fact, and you know it as soon as you see his work.
Unafraid to try something new, to go out on a limb, Nick was hired by Mark Quint, owner of Quint Gallery in San Diego, to photograph…well, odd things. Nick was meant to simply document the objects, but he couldn’t resist making the project his own, literally. That risk landed him acceptance into the 2020 CA photo annual.
Mark Quint has been collecting odd, quirky items for years and, technically, hired me to document them on a white seamless background, but it morphed into a personal project with my decisions to add and shoot with more interesting backgrounds.
In theory, you’d think photographing the objects on a white background would allow their strange personalities to shine. However, as soon as you see Nick’s ideas come to life, you realize that the backgrounds don’t just become noise; they’re the beat behind the melody of your favorite song.
I was fascinated by the bizarre items and decided to photograph them on a wooden surface, on display in the gallery and the storage area.
A big reason these images work is because of Nick’s ability to play with lighting. In fact, Nick says that’s why he was hired in the first place.
Blending, shaping, and sculpting with light is at the heart of my vision. I’m obsessed with light, and not just on set. Later in a dim room, I build an image from the ground up with the goal of creating still and moving images that stand out in a world of clutter.
Nick spent one day in the studio and one on location where he says things were a little trickier.
Lighting was a challenge with the location views. We had a lot of items to capture in a very small space.
And a lot of lighting to do. Nick says that “image-making” to him isn’t just about capturing a moment. He views it as a collection of condensed moments. This reflects his lighting techniques throughout this shoot.
My approach to lighting is to capture multiple exposures with the camera locked down, and with different lighting in each. Then I build a composite image by layering light from each exposure.
Most of these strange items were also a complete surprise to Nick, as he unboxed each one by one. These moments of wonder were followed by delight as he discovered and studied each unique object.
Beauty can be found in the most bizarre and unusual things.
While the Odd Curiosities project is ongoing and Nick hopes to do a gallery exhibition of the work eventually, Nick’s Fish Out of Water image has been published in the 2020 CA photo annual here.
See more of Nick’s work at naccaphoto.com.
Check out our other great photographers on our Find Photographers page!