Nick Zinner Shoots and Scores

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Published October 20, 2010

 

NICK ZINNER WITH SOME OF HIS WORK. PHOTOS BY JACK SIEGEL.

When we stopped by the Levi’s Photography Workshop on Wooster Street this week, Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner was busy with a hammer and nails, putting up photos for his exhibition that evening.

KEN MILLER: How many years’ worth of photos are in the show?

NICK ZINNER: I’d say 90% [of the exhibition] is from the last 10 years, with a sprinkling of black and white photos from the ’90s. One thousand and one photos is a lot.

MILLER: What have you learned about photography in that time?

ZINNER: My relationship to images is always in flux… Photos I think are great can turn out to be not so interesting five years later, and vice versa. I’ve learned there’s no thing as a bad photo—every one is a personal record of a time and place.

MILLER: Do you mostly tend to take pictures on tour or are you shooting all the time?

ZINNER: The majority are taken while traveling, because everything feels new and exciting initially. Taking photos is like a way to make sense of the overwhelming…

MILLER: You’ve captured some pretty insane moments in your photographs. Is it that you’re shooting all the time, or do you have a sense of when a good photo is going to happen?

ZINNER: No, I’m shooting all the time and then editing when I’m home.

MILLER: Do you tend to prefer “ugly” photos or “pretty” photos?

ZINNER: I like a combination of both.

MILLER: You’ve got a picture up here of some hyenas from your trip to Ethiopia. What’s the craziest place you’ve been?

ZINNER: Ethiopia, hands down.  It makes Tokyo seem like Boston.

MILLER: Was there ever a situation where you wanted to take a photo but were too nervous?

ZINNER: Yes! I wanted to take a photo—or have my photo taken—with Tracy Morgan a few months ago, but I was totally starstruck.

MILLER: You’re in the position of having your picture taken all the time—does taking pictures yourself make this any easier or less weird?

ZINNER: No, it makes it weirder, and [it makes] me more self-conscious, because I know almost exactly what the photographer is up to.

MILLER: What is your strongest memory related to taking a photo?

ZINNER: This is always shifting, but I have a photo of a smiling raccoon peering out of a shrub. I befriended him or her in a pecan orchard outside of El Paso and we hung out together for around an hour.

NICK ZINNER’S 1,001 IMAGES IS CURRENTLY ON VIEW AT LEVI’S PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP.