Jason Nocito is a photographer living and working from New York. Since the release of his recent book Loads - one fifth of a curatorial collaboration between Tim Barber and Aperture Books - his presence in the art world has shot to new heights. Jason is in the midst of preparing for his latest show at the Taxter and Spengemann Gallery in New York, so we thought we'd have a catch up with him.
Hello Jason, what have you been up to recently?
I've just arrived home from a three week trip to Vancouver.
For business or pleasure?
Pleasure. My wife is from there so I've spent the past four years between there and New York until she moved here with me.
Did you shoot any pictures whilst you were away?
Yeah, loads. I've been shooting there for years and years, since before my wife and I started dating. Back in 2003 I went out there to meet up with Tim Barber because we had planned to drive across the country.
Wow, so you owe meeting your wife to Tim...
Yes, to put it simply, but no. I also owe it to a friend who got married there in 2005 where we hung out the whole weekend. After that I started to visit monthly. They also have good weed out there, so that didn't hurt either.
How was the trip across America?
It was interesting but we started to get on each other's nerves after having spent too many continuous hours together. We kind of rushed the second half of the trip to get out of each other's hair but I did get some hilarious photos of Tim. I also had a broken rib the whole time which I managed to do skateboarding before we left. Not a particularly romantic experience.
What made you decide to take the trip?
Well I was really poor at the time and my life was kind of a mess, so I took that trip to try and figure it all out.
So this was just before photography started taking off for you?
Yeah, I'd say it was just starting to happen. If it ever happened, or happens [laughs]. I started to make a living from it for the first time soon after that.
How did you get in to photography?
I think I was thirteen when I first knew I wanted to be a photographer. At the time I had just been kicked out of middle school for failing and disturbing classes, as well as looking like a punk; needless to say, they weren't stoked on me.
What did you first start shooting?
I would go to punk shows with a guy I had met at school with a Pentax K1000 I had been handed down and shoot pictures of the bands or just me and my friends getting fucked up. New York life was rocky at that point, I was living alone at the age of 16.
How did the photos turn out?
For me, they looked awesome. The teachers were stoked on them too.
Do you still have all of those?
Well this is the problem, when we had finished school, I went into the darkroom to get all my negatives and every single one of them had vanished. One of the teachers said another teacher had stolen them because she thought that I might become famous one day; but I just think the janitor threw them all out.
Yeah, it was awful. I owe a lot to both of those teachers, they were very sweet to me because the knew I was having a hard time. Sorry, I'm being sentimental.
Just to zoom this forward some years, you now shoot a lot of editorial and commercial work alongside personal projects right?
Last year I shot quite a few things, less editorial in comparison to other years though.
How do you find shooting commercially as opposed to for personal projects?
Well, the two are very hard to relate, I used to think they weren't related at all but they are for the most part. When you're working under someone's brief, it changes the dynamic. I use a specific style for my commercial work but that's the point, it's all style and style is something that changes. My personal work is not defined by its style.
At what point did you feel you had nailed a personal project?
I'm not sure really, the first project I felt like I was developing a style was when I was shooting portraits at my brothers place and in Vancouver. I would spend a lot of time getting to know the subject and build a level of intimacy, after that the spontaneity starts to occur.
What was the first magazine that you had work published with?
Nylon Magazine back in the year 2000, it was great working with them. They gave me a lot of great opportunities when I had no idea what I was doing.
I'm sure they must be proud...
Probably not, but I'm ok with that.
Righto, what was the first book you did also?
It was a long time ago when I was sleeping on Kenneth Capello's floor; we hung out every day for about three years. I made a little hand made zine about him.
How many did you make?
Ten copies all printed on nice paper which I would sit in the basement for days making. I wish I still had one.
I wish I had one...
I think Ryan McGinley has one but I might be wrong.
Presumably Kenneth has one too?
Yeah, he got one but someone stole it from him.
Shit. Maybe you should make a second edition; up the print run to 11 this time?
[Laughs] Maybe not.
You made a book with Aperture recently called Loads, how did that come about?
Tim Barber came to me, having always been supportive of my work and asked if I wanted to do it, which I initially declined as I didn't feel ready for it.
What was the idea for the book?
it was based on a blog I worked on at the time called The Ego Has Landed.
What was Loads about?
Like the ones out my _ _ _ _?
I don't think I get it.
A four letter word at the end.
Oh, I see.
Is it a secret or something?
No, think more filthy.
[Laughs] There you go.
I see, are some of the images in that book found on the web?
No, they're all shot by me but it's funny you say that. It's basically my blog in a book and each page of my book has its own personal narrative...
Based around 'Like the Ones Out My Dick'?
Maybe a handful of them are. Wait let me think before I say something dumb again.
I feel like Loads was the beginning of developing more of a unique photographic voice for myself but in a non-concious way at the time. Everything at the time would be uploaded to my blog which I've grown to neglect.
For any particular reason?
Not really no, I just wasn't sure why I was doing it anymore. The stuff I was shooting felt very throwaway like most other work that lives on the internet.
You wanted a little more stage for your work?
So what does the future hold for Jason Nocito?
It's all a secret.
Righto, thanks and good luck with the show.
You're welcome. Thanks.