Meet Photographer Neave Bozorgi
Neave Bozorgi (@sirneave) is a flourishing natural light photographer based in Los Angeles. In his artistic process, Bozorgi has evolved from documenting figures to depicting varying qualities of light. With each image captured on film, he attempts to separate from his surroundings and become still and formless—photographing and designing simultaneously. Neave is also in the process of publishing his first coffee table book.
Interviewer Mark Gelband (@markgelband) is Ello’s Chief Marketing Officer, an expert in container home construction, a long-time writer, and a local everywhere he goes.
Enter now to win a copy of Neave's book.
Can you tell us a bit of background? How long has the idea of the book been germinating? How long has the process of making the book taken?
When I dove into photography in 2012, I was heavily influenced by the likes of William Klein, Irving Penn, Saul Leiter, and Helmut Newton. My goal was to create photographs that would complement spaces. When I found "success" in the commercial/fashion industry, I chose to pursue capital and material instead of passion and developing a personal style. The sacrifice is that I let go of approaching photography with the innocence of an artistic mind and to align my vision with what could sell.
I hustled in that world until 2016.
As summer of that year rolled around I had already parted ways from some of my clients and was unsure where my life was moving towards. Ultimately with the motivation of friends, I decided to revitalize myself and revisit the idea of putting together a coffee table book; with the purpose of returning back to my original aspirations. By then I had created most of my sets with digital cameras and had accumulated a large body of work over a short few years. I had also gathered an audience and a following because of this body of work, so I was naively under the impression that I should publish "the hits" from those years and be excited about it.
The following Autumn I started making selections from my archive with the goal being to publish a book by December of 2016. I printed around 600 images at a local Costco and went about making selections. I put some foam boards on my living room walls and turned it into a giant selection board. I would pin photos up, move them around, you know, do the thing. While I was in this zone I had also switched over to shooting strictly on film. I was either walking around neighborhoods documenting light, or collaborating with muses using my home as a studio. Slowly the film images started replacing the digitals selects pinned to the wall. It became obvious that the photographs I had taken in my past were no longer resonating with me. They were from a different perspective, on both light and subject. I realized that having a deadline for the book's release was getting in the way of free-flowing creativity, so I dropped that notion entirely and went on to create an entirely new collection of photographs.
Somewhere I read a reference to painters and it went along the lines of "An artist creates only six or seven masterpieces a year. The rest are all research". So I moved forward with the same sentiment. I treated each frame as a canvas. It became all about research, experimentation and practicing the art form. The photos and sets in the book are some of the successes of this approach.
So the idea has been germinating for years and evolved through a number stages. it is at this stage where it has evolved to what I think is the most accurate depiction of what is coming through me.
All the pictures in the book are done with film photography – why film? What is the magic for you of film photography?
It was during a psychedelic journey where I started to examine vibration and its relationship to photography. It became my belief that by capturing light on film, we are capturing the actual vibration/energy of a moment onto a physical surface, whereas with digital photography we rely on a program's translation of light vibration into digital code. Through this conversion of natural vibration into digital code, something gets lost, which in my opinion is the soul of the image. I also eventually learned that purity of color translates better on film. Of course, how a film photograph is then presented is also an important factor. Eventually, this belief was strengthened when I started making the selections for the book and favoring the film photographs.
The digital camera did allow me to freely experiment, learn from mistakes and take on commissioned work without having to spend thousands of dollars on film, processing, and scanning. I appreciate its contribution to my growth.
Photography can sing to the soul as music does, its vibrations can cause a person feel; it could be very emotional, communicative and impactful. And to me, film captures vibrations in a more authentic state.
Did you process the photos as well? If so, can you talk a bit about your process in the darkroom?
I was processing my black and whites at home for a while, but I couldn't manage dust efficiently. So I trust a local lab to process the film. From the lab, I bring the uncut processed rolls back home and scan them using a flatbed scanner to archive. I choose the winners and send the selected negatives to Canada to get them drum scanned by specialists at Wetink Fine Art. It is a process that requires the right people to do their part, and thankfully I have found amazing people.
I would love to eventually bring this entire process in-house!
I get the sense that the generation raised on the immediacy of digital don't have as deep an appreciation for the book's unifying theme - light?
Light has been a major theme in the human story. Its influence can be traced through Eastern philosophies, spiritual practices and works of art from ancient to present time.
It is one of the unifying elements for all of man. We have all existed under the same sunlight, though its gift can be forgotten by a distracted mind that is overloaded with information in such a stimulated era. We are living in an age where there's more nervousness, which is caused by an overly active mind. When I was first putting this book together I was catching myself in bouts of restlessness. I was seeking immediacy. The process of creating the images and putting together this book taught me patience.
I could see the book being a challenge to some who are mentally at 100 miles per hour, but that could be a good opportunity for the person to check themselves. (Which is something I had to learn to do as well!)
You mentioned that none of the photos in this book have yet to be shared on social media. Is there something special to you about keeping them for the book?
It was partly to challenge myself, and those who chose to work with me, to not seek instant gratification for the work created. So by taking social media out of the equation, I took away an outlet that was serving my ego, which changed my relationship with such platforms as tools.
Another underlying key aspect is that since the entire collection has been taken with film, viewing them on a digital screen would not do the images justice. When a film photograph is printed on a textured surface, it breathes. This is not the case on a shiny digital surface. The presentation of these images has been an important factor.
The last part of it is exclusivity. I like the idea that out of the entire human population only a few hundred will get to see the photos. It's more intimate.
What are the positives and negatives of social media for someone pursuing a career as an artistic photographer?
It is still a fantastic way to connect with people and gather inspiration from trusted sources.
How it is used is key. You could use it as a tool and reach a group of people who are now connected with you for through your music, art, style, or any form of expression. But If the number of your audience and the reaction towards your creations get you feverish, then you can easily create a loop where you want to make more of the thing that gives you satisfaction. We grow when we break out of our self-made loops. This loop is a prison for artists.
I think it's important that we unplug from the stream often and allow the inspiration to come from within. It's easy to be influenced by trends or by seeing what other people are doing.
What do you hope the audience gets out of the book?
For each person, it'll be different. But I do hope that there's harmony between the viewer and the book.
You can follow Neave on Ello, Instagram, and Tumblr.