Through the Lens: Nick Joseph for Sneeze Magazine

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We sat down with our main man Nick Joseph to talk shop about his new ad in SNEEZE Magazine for the New Balance MADE IN USA collection. We met Nick years ago on a press trip to Dallas Cowboys Stadium, and we bonded while watching an episode of COPS on tiny bus TV en route to the airport. His unintentional, off-beat sense of humor and never-ending arsenal of inside joke-specific Youtube videos, combined with his knowledge of obscure wrestlers and love of cured meats makes us feel like we are trapped in an unwritten episode of a bad sitcom — and we absolutely love every second of it.

The thing that makes Nick so special, other than his ability to make us #flatline on the regs, is how crazy talented he is behind the camera. With little to no training, he went from a streetwear guy to a marketing guy to a curator to a full-on photographer. He has this amazing ability to capture the most profoundly subtle moments with his camera before you have even noticed him. Like any complex artist, he is one part wallflower and two parts voyeur, patiently waiting for the perfect shot to present itself.

Q. You are a self-trained photographer. When did you start taking photos?

Nick. Welp, when I was boy, my folks had some old Pentax and Olympus point and shoots and polaroids, so that’s my first time being exposed to cameras. I would mess around and shoot with them when I was a kid, but as I got older, I started to shoot for fun and then for blogging purposes. I would say that was like eight years ago. I started to get super serious with it about five years ago,then just kept learning on my own, and then with the aid of folks like Robbie Jeffers and other photographers. Also, I put on and curate photo exhibitions, so I am constantly forever surrounded by great photographers that I constantly learn things from.

Q. This shoot feels more like a storyboard for a film than a traditional ad. Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration?

Nick. The shoot is an advertisement for New Balance MADE IN USA that’s specifically shot for SNEEZE Magazine. It features Spring/Summer 2015’s 991 and 998 models. My friend Sam at New Balance is a fan of my photos, so we talked about working together at some point. She expressed a strong interest in getting down with SNEEZE, which all worked out because I work on the mag with the publisher, Nic Fensom. Sam came up with the idea to get a really rad looking older fellow and a steezy young guy, and pair them up to highlight NB’s timeless nature. NB, although it’s made a great impact in the sneaker and street style world the last few years, has that stigma of being some old dad shoe brand, so the shoot is kind of a play on that, poking fun at that notion.

Q. Can you tell us a little about the NB Made in the USA collection?

Nick. #iloveitandineedit. The shoes focused on here are the 991 and 998. Both are so incredibly great. NB kills it with these styles. It’s like no matter how many varying shades of gray NBs there are, they’re still always so thorough.

Q. What is the back story on these models?

Nick. They had a great connection on the shoot. They totally looks like a gramps and grandson connection, but the grandpappy role was played by this model named Max. Sam was crazy busy during the time of planning the shoot, but she wanted an older guy with character. My plan was to chill at Canter’s where I go for the early bird special breakfast at 5:30 a.m. That place is a gold mine for old guys, but then I started to think that if they’re not professional, they could totally flake on us for the shoot, so I hopped on the web and found an agency that had all these rad senior guys. Sam wanted Max, so we linked with him on this and he killed it. The younger fellow is Julian. I met him at Union’s holiday party. My friend Shin from Stussy Japan was there, and he met Julian in Tokyo, so he introduced us. I knew I wanted to work with Julian on something at some point, and then this NB shoot came about and he was down.

Q. The styling is DOPE. Who was responsible for that?

Nick. Elizabeth Birkett. She KILLS it. She’s a friend and co-owner of UNION Los Angeles. She’s just mad talented at styling. I had hired her for a shoot a few months prior with ASICS and she bodied that shoot with the styling. It was just so good, I had to get her on board for this shoot, especially given Sam’s direction and what she said she wanted. I knew Beth could deliver.

Q. The colors are incredible, so saturated and surreal. What kind of camera were you shooting with?

Nick. I used two cameras for the shoot: a Mamiya 7ii medium format range finder and the incredibly epic Sony A7 with a manual focus Konica Hexanon lens. I was planning on just shooting film, but I had picked up the A7 a few weeks prior to the shoot. I love rich color. I used to not be that into it, but the last few months, it’s become my jam. I love color pop, which is why I am so especially fond of the headwear in the shoot. The red and blue are electrifying to me.

Q. It must really cool to see these images in such a large scale for SNEEZE Magazine. How did you start working with them?

Nick. The ad looks fantastic. I know that sounds like I am blowing my own horn, but it’s rad. The colors are great and I am hyped to see my vehicle get some shine in it, too. We used my car as a prop. That ad is in the just barely recently released SNEEZE No. 24. “The Buried Issue.” Cop that:

I started working with SNEEZE loosely a few years ago. Bradley Carbone put me onto the mag a few years back and then while working with Oakley, I started doing ads in there. Bradley connected me with Nic Fensom, the publisher, and we became friends. He became a part of my “Under the Radar” photo exhibit that I do with Stussy, but then late last year, he expressed an interest in me coming on board to help out with the mag. I really don’t like writing at all and I can barely read, so like when he asked me to work on things like ads, special projects and photography, I was so ’bout it.

xx Jeanine