Interview and words by Shristi Jaiswal
With photographs underlying a sense of dreamy aura, Nesrin Danan brings us a collection of pictures that parallels a day well spent with friends accompanied by a camera and strings of easy conversations. Whether it is on a roof of a friend’s place, a park under the golden rays or even at a concert with neon lights dancing over a crowd, her work never fails to authentically capture moments that would later make for stories encapsulating the days of transient youth. Based in Los Angeles, she has been successful in making a name for herself and continues to gain well deserved recognition by prominent brands and individuals alike. During our call she talked about her journey, her love towards her profession and the opportunities that steered her ship in the right direction.
You go by your alias Black Prints? Is there a story behind it?
Not really! I had just started Tumblr and found it to be a place littered with extremely creative usernames. I really liked the word blueprints but sadly that was taken so I tweaked it a bit and went for Black Prints! I was posting my photography on that platform so eventually the name stuck.
Your pictures, I noticed, emits a soft pastel aura. Is it something you deliberately focus on or is it just serendipitous?
It’s pretty deliberate. I don’t like to over edit my photographs. Sure, I enhance colours and clean it a bit but my end goal is to capture a photograph that is as close to reality as possible. I like to keep it simple and love the vibe that I end up with that’s soft, dreamy and pastel.
You have travelled widely. So which city in your opinion could be considered a photographer’s paradise?
I loved Bangkok, Thailand. It felt like everywhere I turned in the city, there was an abundance of colour and vibrancy that was just perfect to shoot in. It was absolutely gorgeous. I feel like anywhere that’s vibrant and has a really rich culture could be considered a paradise of some sort.
I’m proud of the fact that being a woman of colour, I have been able to build a brand and make a name for myself.
You’ve been on quite a few music tours, what would you say, as a photographer, is the best part about them?
I really like waking up somewhere new every day. Additionally having a subject to follow gives a documentary element to it that compliments the artistic component of being a concert photographer. I grew up not being able to go to a lot of concerts so when I was old enough and had the means I was pretty excited to explore this genre of photography.
What do you miss most about Portland now that you have moved to Los Angeles?
The weather! In L.A I never know what day it is and somehow it is always eighty degrees outside. I also miss the food. Portland has an amazing food and restaurant culture. L.A has that too but it’s just not the same.
What captivates you most about film photography?
Oh I absolutely love film. I started shooting film when I was in high school and funnily enough that’s how I actually got into photography. For me film is fun. I don’t do work assignments on film, I just take my little camera and take random pictures of my friends or snaps of shooting behind the scenes. It’s a personal thing that I do and I think that’s what makes it fun for me. I also enjoy experimenting with different types of film. I love real, raw photography that you cannot really manipulate as much as digital.
Would you describe film photography as a personal project or something that has the potential to develop into something lucrative?
Yes and no. I always thought about creating a photo book with my film photos. I know a lot of photographers who exclusively shoot on film so maybe somewhere down the line if a brand or a client would like that then I definitely could. But for now it’s just a little fun thing for me do that started eleven years ago in my sophomore year of high school.
I think that’s how you really grow as an artist – just go where the wind takes you.
Other than being able to do something you are passionate about what would you say you gained from practicing your profession?
A lot of friends! Furthermore, I get to travel a lot which I always think is extremely lucky. People fly me all over the place to take pictures and it’s absolutely insane! I really appreciate it. I’m also really proud of the fact that I have been able to build a name and a brand for myself. As a woman of colour in the US, it’s not that easy so I’ve been really lucky to be able to do that.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
Keep shooting! You never know what your niche is going to end up being or who might want to hire you. Finding you editing style is the most important thing in photography. I have seen people go into the profession saying that they only want to shoot a specific genre like concert photography. I really grew as a photographer once I branched out of that mind- set. I told myself that I’m going to do portraits and product photography and brand campaigns and now I shoot just about everything! Now anyone can come to me with a photography project and my answer’s always going to be yes. I think that’s how you really grow as an artist- just go where the wind takes you.
In what ways would you say living in LA has affected your photography style?
I’ve been working between Portland and L.A for about six years now. I don’t know if moving here has changed my style as such given the fact that we are still living in a pandemic and I’m mostly at home. I feel L.A’s photography has its own style. When I was in Portland I felt it was very casual and candid given that it was a relatively slower city than Los Angeles. Here, the pictures hold a very high fashioned, sunny, altogether that Californian look. Nevertheless since my move I have had so much more access to models, artists and certain connections for which I had to previously fly down for. I feel like it has opened so many doors for me making me busier and it has been fun so far!
I want to keep working with cool people and create cool photos and just do that for as long as I can.
Do you have any long term goals that you wish you accomplish in your profession?
I would love to publish my own photo book some time in a couple of years. However I don’t know what its subject will be or where I want to go with that. I just want to keep working with cool people and create cool photos and just do that for as long as I can.
An artist living or dead you admire the most?
I know my answer should be Van Gogh or Monet but there is this guy I follow on Instagram by the username @dovneon and I just love his work so much. He creates digital art but combines natural elements like the ocean, clouds and such. He juxtaposes the same with neon lights and it absolutely insane. I’ve been following him for a year now.
Do you prefer the hustle of the city or the quite of the country?
I would say hustle. Even Portland was a major city but was relatively quieter than L.A. I like that better than the town that I grew up in which was small and quiet. I love being in a city, it has so much more opportunities.
What would you describe as your big break that pushed you to where you are right now?
I wouldn’t say that there was a specific “big break” but I had people who took a chance on me very early in my career like G-Eazy! I even met Drake’s manager who invited me to shoot a show. It helped me be taken more seriously as a photographer with viable connections. So, I’m really thankful for those opportunities because well… that’s how we got here!