Audio feature: Interview with Leonard Nimoy

alt2014 March 13

By: Photography

Leonard Nimoy: Hello, this is Leonard Nimoy. 
Interviewer: Hello, how are yu and how has your your day been so far? 

Thanks to Grace and Bobbie for the  Link

Leonard Nimoy: It was wonderful except for that I've been terrified that I was not going to be able to reach you. I was terrified, I thouht this cannot be. What can I do for you today? 
Interviewer: I am interested in art and also about your personal work. Is it okay to ask some questions?
Leonard Nimoy: Yes.
Interviewer:  How did you first gain interest in photography? You've been doing it for quite som eyears. 
Leonard Nimoy:  A long, long time. I've been 11 or 12 or 13 years old when a neighborhoud friend showed me that it was possible to develop a role of film and make a print. That I did not have to go to the pharmacy with a role of film and wait three or four days to come back. And I was immediately intrigued with how it worked and I began making pictures.  I was very young, very young. 
Interviewer: You did it in the darkroom, it was involved, isn't it? 
Leonard Nimoy: The darkroom. It was in interesting process. We lived in an appartment. There were six of us: My grandparents, my parents and my brother and I. There was one bathroom and I used it as a darkroom. So I would be in there with the towels on the floor to block out the light and they would be pounding on the door to tell me to get out. And that was the beginning of my photography work. 
Interviewer: What kinds of cameras have you been using throughout your career? 
Leonard Nimoy: I have been using a lot of kinds of cameras. The first camera was a Kodak Bellows camera, probably from the 1930ies. And I have used Nikon, I have used Canon, I have used so many kinds of cameras I can't even remember, I can't remember how many kinds of cameras I've used. 
Interviewer: What is your particular favorite? 
Leonard Nimoy: I have used Hasselblatt. My Secret Selves Project has been shot with Hasselblatt. 
Interviewer: So, who were you inspired by photographically, then?  
Leonard Nimoy: Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon.
Interviewer: Any reason in particular? 
Leonard Nimoy: Newton for his sexuatlity, sensuality. Avedon for his energy. 
Interviewer: I can definitely see in your works that he has been an inspiration for you. 
Leonard Nimoy: Yeah.
Interviewer: How is it that the black and white you were particulary drawn to? Is it the darkroom feature or is it anything else? 
Leonard Nimoy: The darkroom was a big aspect, a big factor, but my most recent project that I produced, the Secret Selves, was shot digitally in color because the subject matter had to be done in color because the people were colorful people and expressed themselves in colorful ways. To do that in black and white would not have done them justice so I felt  I'd do that in color. 
Interviewer: Tell me about the project.
Leonard Nimoy: Have you seen it? Have you seen the work?
Interviewer: Yes. 
Leonard Nimoy: It came from something I came across from ancient Greece: Arestophenes a Greek playwrite, philosopher, who was postioning a very fanciful idea explaining human angst. And he said that humans at one time were people attached back to back. We had two heads, four arms and four legs. And humans became very powerful and very arrogant. The gods were very angry and sent Zeus to solve the problem. and Zeur took his bog sword and splitt everybody in two and sent them on their separate paths. So people were in a sense apart from themselves, from the opposite side or part of themselves. Arestophenes said that humans have been searching ever since that for the opposite part of themselves, trying to re-integrate, trying to become whole again. That sense of discomfort, that sense of loss, the feeling that you are not totally together, not totally whole. and I thought ths is an intersting idea that we are living with some fantasy ot dream to become aware of ourselves that something is not being expressed. And I wondered if people would come in and present themselves and be photographed as their secret or hidden or lost or fantasy self. And that's what I photographed. 
Interviewer:  .... 
Leonard Nimoy: Yeah! The additional work ia actually easier. Look, I have a condition known as COPD. Have you ever heard of that? 
Interviewer: Yes.
Leonard Nimoy: Cronic destructive pulmonary desease. And I was a smoker for a long time but I also spent a long time in darkrooms with chemicals. And that didn't do me any good, didn't do my lungs any good. Being out of the darkroom working with digital work is a much cleaner, a much healthier work amongst other things. I have enjoyed digital work a lot. I resisted digital work for a long time because I guess I'm an old fashioned kind of guy staying with the original kind of work. But when I realized that the digital work was coming along very well, the digital work was good work, and that I have accomplished some beautiful work using digital I've been comfortable with it. 

Interviewer: There are a lot of people in your work. What do you adore with people? 
Leonard Nimoy: I love people. I love people. I always loved people. People are terribly important to me. I love the human being, the human body, I love everything about it, I love everything about it. Working with people is more important to me than working with objects, landscapes, architecture. I am so interested in people working with people, psychiology, the way we live, we walk, talk, the shape and size of people. The cultural views of the human body has always fascinated me.
altInterviewer: You have got massive photographs as well. Tell me about an image of yours that has a particular memorable story. The one which really strikes me is a couple from your early work. It is in black and white and the dots stand out. What does it mean for you? 
Leonard Nimoy: That's my folk, my parents. 
Interviewer: And you shot this?
Leonard Nimoy: Yes. It is kind of a magical photograph bacause there is a lot going on for me. It tells me about the nature of those people. My mother stopped to look through these opening, kind of potholes. My mother was a very curious person. She wanted to know, she wanted to learn, she wanted to discover. My dad was much less curious, that's why he kept on walking. And that's what was captured in this photograph. And what was also captured is that he was walking to an ending. And he was the one who passed away first. He passed away first, he left us first. And that's all in into that photograph. 
Interviewer: ... shot from your points of view. 
Leonard Nimoy: Thank you. Thank you! 
Interviewer: Acting as well because you have met so many incredible people. 
Leonard Nimoy: Acting and photography is all about th einternal life. What's going on in these people, what are they thinking about ? What is who they are? What makes them function? What do they do? What are they thining about. Well, anybody can shoot the external, but their internal life...  If I had not been an actor I would have been an psychiologist because I'm so intrigued with the human mind. 
Interviewer: We saw that in the exhibitions, especially in the galleries. 
Leonard Nimoy: I hope you enjoyed it. I've done it because I want people to see the work. Have it hanging on the walls I don't particulary enjoy it. A very superficial way for people to  use the work. Rather choose one photograph and talk about it, explore it, examn it, trying to find out what's going on, what was happening the moment the photograph was taken. What do you see in th ephotograph? Discuss it with each other, as we have just discussed the photograph of my parents. But what's haning on the walls in a museum or gallery don't get the opportunity unless someone asks you a specific question about a specific photograph, then it becomes interesting. But to see people filing through, browsing through 20 or 35 images and then move about to have a coffee or a cigarette and have a conversation with somebody else about some party they are going to later or something they did last night - very unsatisfying.    
Interviewer: It is interesting to find out about the story behind it. Just like you said.
Leonard Nimoy: Yuh.
Interviewer: Would you like to do anything whiyh you haven't photographed but you wish to? 
Leonard Nimoy: I wish I would be the fist and only photographer ever to shoot dogs. If no other photographer had ever photographed dogs then I would shoot dogs because I love dogs, I think dogs have amazing personalities and are so wonderful individuals, every one of them, I wonder about their thought process, what their inner world is about, and if no other photographer had ever shot a photograph of a dog that's what I would do: I woould photograph dogs. 
Interviewer: Especially if tehy wandered around.
Leonard Nimoy: That's right. But I would have to be the first and only photographer who ever shot dogs. The first and only dog photographer. 
Interviewer: Thanks for your photography. Where do you see your photography? 
Leonard Nimoy: I'm exploring in my files what never has been seen. Unseen. Never before photograhed. I have files of thousands and thousands photographs that never has been seen. At the gallery Rich Michelson just put on a collection called "Eye Contact". 25 images which I believe is the first time that any one of those have never been seen. They go back 20, 25 years and never been seen before. And that excites me because looking back I have realized it had been overlooked. And anything which is overlooked has been a sad story. Now I'm trying to recapture some of the magic of photographs that never have been seen. 
Interviewer: It must be nice to go over these images "Uh, yuh, I remember that time" 
Leonard Nimoy: I love that, I made it three years ago and I loved going back in time. 
Interviewer: If you could go back in time what would you photograph then? 
Leonard Nimoy laughs. I'd pick out the time when I was about 25 years old. That was a good time. I have no regrets, I have had a wonderful life, wonderful life. 
Interviewer: About your carrer -what do you think? Has photography a big aspect in it? 
Leonard Nimoy: A photographer whose career I'd ever envy was Avedon. I think Avedon had a wonderful career doing all kinds of wonderful photographic work. He did energegetic and adventurous work. And then Newton who in his way put out some wonderful personal work which I admire. 
Interviewer: They stand out as photographers. Thank you so much for talking to me today. I really do appreciate you took the time to talk to me. 
Leonard Nimoy: Great pleasure. Thank you, bye. 

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