E.D. You studied Art History at the University of Tel Aviv. Why did you choose Photography and when did you discover the magic of the photographic art?
N.S. I was already a student when my boyfriend, Sharon, bought me a digital camera for our fifth anniversary. I started to take my camera almost everywhere I went, catching things that seemed to me interesting enough, without directing or planning ahead. Soon, I fell in love with this occupation and began taking basic photography classes, honestly I have never imagined this would turn out to be my dream…
E.D. Your photographies are glimpses of reality. What do you take in consideration when you shoot a picture?
N.S. The technical aspect is secondary to me. Firstly, I concentrate on the topic, the original situation. I love a theme that conceals a story, while it aims at something I can relate to. Clearly I make sure there is proper lighting, and I choose to place the object in the most interesting angle possible. The tendency is of course interesting colors that attract the eye.
E.D. You grew up in a family that values art and culture, surrounded by beautiful art objects. Do you think that this has forged in a way your path in life?
N.S. No doubt about it. I grew up in a family that loves and respects literature, music, and fine arts. My father is an art collector and my mother has a gifted talent when it comes to designing and drawing. Art books on the shelf and paintings on the walls drove me to love and curiosity. I tried my hand in several areas (guitar, poetry, and drawing) and among all these, photography suddenly became the most dominant and appealing to me.
E.D. Do you prefer working with people you know or just with complete strangers in the street?
N.S. As I mentioned, I do prefer the reality that surprises me (which means, to be somehow involved with people you do not know… snap shots etc.)
Of course I’d love to photograph people who are close to me, whom I can share my vision with. But, in general I am a very easy person to get along with and completely open to new ideas and new people.
E.D. Your photographies always have titles. Do you think the titles help the viewer understand your own feelings towards the photography?
N.S. Yes. Although I agree some photos don’t need titles. If you look at a photo called “Untitled”, you can have a personal interpretation, or… the photo simply speaks for itself. Nevertheless, just like in a painting, the artist feels the need to make a statement, to pass on a feeling, an opinion, or an idea. My perception is: a title can help you “see” better and it can equally destroy…However, I still prefer a title.
E.D. Let’s take:”Life as a Metaphor” for instance. The title gives us a clue towards the meaning of the photo. Can you offer more insight on this specific title / picture?
N.S. It’s a daily scene in a public place. The characters’ position can perhaps indicate their importance, or status in life. I saw humor but also sadness. The attitude of the characters, lost in a surreal setting… metal sky, earth made of stones, and the people trapped in between. Lighting also has an important role, and it creates a separation between the characters. Many titles ran across my mind, but I finally chose this one, which directs you to a deeper observation, and can be understood in several ways.
E.D. Your photographies are surrounded by a melancholic air, they seem to bring together 2 separate worlds: one of innocence and childhood and the other one of bitterness of a somewhat regretful adulthood. As a young, emerging artist do you find yourself in the middle of these 2 worlds?
N.S. On the one hand I still feel sometimes as a child even though I am almost 27. I feel some of my photos come from a very naive place. On the other hand, I am very connected to the seriousness of older people, because I find it very real. There is a whole life behind them. So much experiences, pain, joy, loss. Something you can see in every wrinkle, every look, and it touches my heart in a way I can’t describe. These two extremes are supposedly not related, but they are…
E. D. “Sleeping birds” is an obvious allusion to Mihai Eminescu’s poem. Do you find inspiration in his poetry?
N.S. When I was a child, my grandmothers used to put me in bed and sing this song to me. They knew many Mihai Eminescu’s poems by heart. This is why the title came to me quite naturally. If I look at a photo I have just taken and it may suggest a name related to a poem, well, it turns out to be a very satisfying moment for me. Robert Frank (Such a wonderful photographer) said: “When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice…” if I could reach that, nothing can be more fulfilling.
E.D. “Dialogue of the deaf” is another well-chosen title, full of subtle irony. Thinking about this picture, do you believe your artwork should express something, have an objective or do you just value art for art’s sake, only for aesthetic principles?
N.S. This photo reflects a situation that exists in Israel. I won’t go into politics, but there is a feeling of irony and disappointment implied. I chose that name because I couldn’t think of anything else to symbolize the situation. Two completely different worlds, yet they suddenly appear before you for one moment, something you don’t see every day. My intention is to give a photo a few layers, I wouldn’t want it to be just a “nice picture” to look at. Even when I photograph still life, I try to give a sense of depth, and I wish I had always succeeded in it…
E.D. Some of your photographies seem to disclose a pictorial approach (Sleeping birds, Tribute to Magritte). Do you take interest in other art forms, like painting for instance?
N.S. The painting domain is no stranger to me. I do try to render my photos a rich pictorial language. In the university, I learned about different streams in art, to analyze works of art, the laws of perspective, light and shadow and composition. Somehow, I may instinctively translate this knowledge into my photos.
E.D. What are your favourite artists (not only photographers)?
N.S. So many! But here are some of the most prominent of them who receive my highest appreciation:
In painting: Renne Magritte, Joan Miro (I simply adore Surrealism) Reuven Rubin (his paintings are literally pure serenity), Baruch Elron (who was a friend of the family), and Corneliu Baba (I find his portraits excellent!).
In photography, it is extremely difficult for me to say, since I love so many. I noticed I am mostly attracted by (how not surprising) daily street scenes, and photos in black and white. Some of my favorites are Henri Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, Helen Levitt, Chema Madoz and Dorothea Lange. I also love photo-journalism very much!
E.D. Thank you.