Where are you from and where do you currently reside?
I grew up in Western Massachusetts, in a small town. After a number of years bouncing around from city to city, I’m now back in Western Mass. in a slightly less small town.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
These days I look at a lot of painters, Thomas Eakins and Edward Hopper being my two favorites. They both had an amazing ability to put so much into simple everyday happenings, which is pretty much what I’m looking for in my pictures. As far as photographers go, I’ve always been Robert Frank fan. Larry Sultan was an amazing teacher and remains a huge inspiration. Alec Soth, Jack Pierson, the list could go on.
It’s hard for me to divorce myself from the people and places and moments and memories that are behind all the images, which is why I think it might be a document of my life. If you don’t know the people or places, then the story is yours to create and you are free to create your own truth.
Many of your photographs include bodies of water and bodies in water. Are you an avid swimmer?
I’ll just say that I swim. I’m no Michael Phelps. To me swimming and water are about innocence and a retreat from the world. I had been taking pictures of water for a long time before I saw Eakins’ painting "Swimming", but that picture really opened my eyes to what I was trying to do. Until then I just thought it was a good idea to go swimming on hot days, (which is part of it) but the metaphor of water and swimming becomes so apparent in the simplicity and ease of the boys in Eakins’ painting.
In the introduction of your book Pattern Language, you make a distinction between reality and truth saying that reality is what happened, whereas truth is how it was captured in one’s memory. Your portraits are intimate and familiar, and it is clear that the world depicted is your truth. At the same time, your work creates an alternate nostalgia and, in some ways, a fantasythe America you don’t know, the friends you wish you had, etc. Do you consider your work documentary or fantasy, or both?
It’s definitely both. It might just be documentary to me, but at the same time it is also a fantasy. Nostalgia is, in its essence, a fantasy – the wish for the good ol’ days. It’s hard for me to divorce myself from the people and places and moments and memories that are behind all the images, which is why I think it might be a document of my life. If you don’t know the people or places, then the story is yours to create and you are free to create your own truth.
What is something people would be surprised to discover about you?
Despite what my pictures might tell you, I can’t leave the house without showering and working on a crossword puzzle.
DISCOVER WORKS BY NICK MEYER