Interview with the Nowhere Man, Andrew Stark

The first interview in months is an amusing one. Please enjoy an interview with Street Photographer Andrew Stark aka ‘Nowhere Man’ from Australia.

Tell us a little bit about Nowhere Man/Andrew Stark. Who are you, where do you live?

Ok, well I’m a native of Sydney, Australia, currently residing in the eucalypt strewn hill tops just up beyond Woy Woy. My parents are both English and divorced, and are quite possibly the only inhabitants of this great brown land who bother to tune in to Mother Windsor’s message each and every Christmas day. I’m pretty much a loner although somehow find myself living with a gorgeous girlfriend and three perky step kids (I think my book “Escaping Into Life” is a veiled attempt to better understand some of this).

I’m left handed, left leaning and quite often left over … I’m an Aquarian with a large slab of Taurus in my chart which basically means that I’m stubbornly whacky and curiously fixed – I don’t really know how to have ‘fun’, you know not in the generally held, contemporary society interpretation of the ‘fun’ concept. .. and yet I do find myself laughing way too much for my own good. I have tremendous trouble convincing myself that anything at all is terribly serious … street photography, art, life, football … nothing really…

What does Nowhere Man mean?

Well, breaking it down – ‘Nowhere’ means not actually anywhere, whilst ‘Man’ is a general term for a homo-sapien, or more specifically a male version of the same … oh, you mean like why did I specifically adopt this description for my blog …

Ok, well I guess I figured it summed up my lack of belonging and the overall pointlessness of all that I do. It was, and is a good fit.

Am I right when I say that you are a street photographer?

Yes that’s right – I’m one of them.

Can you recall the first photo you took that made you go WOW!?

Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves here – I’ve only been photographing for 25 years. However I will say that I’m quietly confident that that first ‘WOW’ photo is somewhere just up around the next corner.

Other people’s photo’s – now that’s a different story … Frank, Cartier-Bresson, Klein, Winogrand …. WOW! …

How often are you out on the streets shooting? What is your favourite time of the day photographing in the streets?

I do try and get out a couple of times a week. I go to Sydney which is an hour and a half away by train – I’m actually scribbling the answer to this question into a spirex notepad whilst sitting on the late running 8.13 from Wyong – it’s just passed through Koolewong, which is little disappointing as it was supposed to stop there and didn’t… if you’re interested.

As for the time of day I shoot, I tend to go hard early, which means I’ve usually run out of steam by mid afternoon – I really should take advantage of the late afternoon light but I do have terrible trouble sleeping in …

When you are out on the streets, how many pictures do you come home with? How high is your rejection rate and what is the most common rejection criteria, if you can distil it down?

It all depends – I mean like everyone, I have good days and bad. I guess on average I’d shoot 30 to 60 frames of which one or two might be interesting. I reckon if you end up with 5 decent pictures a year you’re going ok (6 and you’re on fire; 7 or more and you’re Trent Parke).

Rejection criteria – that’s difficult to crystallize – most frames of course stink horribly and are easy to reject, but then every now and then, just as you’re about to lament the whole days catch, over imbibe and wallow in a bit of Nick Cave moaning … there in amongst the horrid chafe sits a neg’ which manages to sing a little song of it’s own …

What is your opinion about taking photo’s of other, in many cases unknown people without asking them first?

Well that describes all my pictures – so I’m fine with it. Many of my anonymous subjects however are not so fine with it … and often let me know in no uncertain terms.

Please name three of your favourite places to take photo’s in your town.

I’ve had a good, long think about this one and have come up with the three Cs – Cabramatta, Central Railway and Circular Quay.

Cabramatta is a much maligned, working class suburb in Sydney’s south west which is the most gloriously multi cultural town in the whole of the country. I absolutely love the diversity of Cabra’ and also have a personal bond with the district as my dad ran the library out there for many years and I spent a lot of my childhood in the suburb.

Central Railway has been good to me over the years – both photographically and personally. I think it emits that whole ‘new
beginnings’ vibe that major transport hubs tend to do and the camera just seems to instinctively tap into the jangling jumble of passing emotion – it also happens to be the place where I first laid eyes on my partner Melissa.

And my last pick, Circular Quay is the tourist mecca of Sydney’s famous harbour: with her bridge, Opera House and Manly Ferry etc … there are always reams of people down there; which of course is a good start when contemplating an interesting street photo or two …

How do you feel about cropping an image?

I don’t, unless I absolutely have to. And then if I do I make sure that the finished picture maintains the original shape. I would never make a rectangle into a square.

Is there a type of photography that you absolutely dislike?

Not really, although wedding photography makes me feel just a little queasy in the tummy – you know all those fixed smiles, rented clothes, and impossibly high hopes … wedding photography; it really is the ultimate contrivance.

What do you make a living with?

A kindly smile and a natural ability to survive on tinned tuna and cask wine … I shoot a bit of junior sport during winter to support my lavish lifestyle.

What type of art is on your walls at home?

Apart from the obligatory 3 ducks flying south and that classy print of the dogs playing snooker, there’s a bunch of photo’s of my step kids: Jasmine, Senjay and Lexie – oh yeah, and I have a Doisneau poster (not the infamous kiss one) hanging on the lounge room wall which someone gave me back in the 80s (the poster not the wall).

Do you listen to music while photographing? If so, what kind of music is this?

I have done, but not usually. Music is however a huge factor in my life. I enjoy everything from the Velvet Underground through Joy Division and The Fall to Catpower. I love the great storytellers: Dylan, Reed, Paul Kelly, Leonard Cohen … and there were a bunch of brilliant Aussie bands that I grew up with in the eighties – The Triffids, Midnight Oil, The Go-Betweens, Died Pretty, The Scientists, The Church … I could go on…

How do you define “beauty” when it comes to photography?

Something someone else has taken… I really don’t think ‘beauty’ and street photography sit together too naturally…

honest, raw and poetic – yes; beautiful – probably not.

Thank you Andrew for taking the time to answer our questions.

starkstreetphotography.blogspot.com

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