Friday, May 2, 2008

Friends in Thai Places: Matthew Nistor, Photographer

Kirsten is full of the ideas. Most of the time I'm just playing catchup. For instance, last week she wrote a blog about her dear friend Jay Lantrip, who handcrafts her own kick-ass, gorgeous and stylish clothing line, Jennifer Joy Creative, right out of her Lansing home. Kirst didn't do this because Jay needs the advertising - as it is, Jay's got custom orders coming out of her ears - she just did it out of pure admiration.

Naturally, I was jealous. Because I've got a lot of talented friends too, friends who I should be propping out on these web pages if I wasn't so busy wasting time. And so this week I'm going to make a concerted effort to write about some of them. In fact, I'm even going to create a special Wingstroke segment for this occasion, called Friends in Thai Places.

Why "Thai Places," you ask. Because I'm forever in search of the perfect name for a Thai restaurant, and when I've found that name I'm going to open my own joint and become a man of wealth and leisure. So far my top picks are Thai-lenol, Thai's the Limit, Thai One On and Live and Let Thai.

About four years ago my good friend Steven Nistor asked me to look at some photos his younger brother Matthew had taken and posted online. He said that he thought his brother had real talent and that, if I agreed, I should send Matthew a little encouragement. I checked out the photos and Steven was right - I loved what I saw. I'm not articulate about visual art - I can't explain why I like what I like. And of the visual arts, photography generally seems the least expressive to me. But Matt's photos are calm while also being full of energy and feeling and I just truly enjoy looking at them. In that way it's kind of a more pure experience of art, that my reaction to it is only feeling and no internal monologue.

In the beginning, Matt was taking a lot of shots of Detroit and New York architecture like these:

What I like about the way Matt photographs buildings is that he seems fascinated not just with symmetry, but how to destroy it. These shots have a built-in vertigo, a loss of balance.

The same could be said of this recent image of his of people lying on the grass of a New York park. It looks like it was taken from the point of view of an out-of-control kite.

He's great with black and white. He knows how to use it to make things seem stronger, dirtier, more monolithic. But he can do a lot with color as well, even when it's bleached-out and still leaning heavily on its silhouettes.

And of course, because the brother's got chops, full-color, vibrant pictures are also something he does beautifully.

My band ended up basing the artwork for our last record around Matt's pictures and, because of it, for the first time we were actually happy with our CD's packaging. I was proud to have this image spread out across the center of the booklet:

I think that shot of a new york alleyway splattered in graffiti gore is a great representation of one of Matt's strong suits, urban landscapes. So is this shot of soot-soaked Los Angeles, taken over the crest of what looks like a pile of ash...

...and this ground zero view, in glorious blends of brown.

I think that most of all what I appreciate about Matt's photography is its tone. It's classy without being dull; pretty without being Hallmark-ish.
He seems to be always trying to find the most interesting angle to look at something from, and yet he does it without interjecting himself or any pretenses.

These qualities were present in abundance at Matt's wedding, which took place in the historic Guardian Building downtown, and which Kirsten and I were lucky enough to attend. Matt and his wife Amanda planned the whole things themselves, from the flowers to the fabric of the groomsmen's ties, and it was easily the most elegant thing I've ever been a part of as you can see in these wedding photos, brilliantly captured by Jessica Johnston of Jessica Johnston Photography.

Matt himself has taken a stab at the wedding photography business and I know it's going to lead to bigger and better things. He's got an unstoppable eye. And having been photographed by Matt myself for rock'n'roll purposes, I know what the guy is like to work with. A consummate professional and a real agreeable motherfucker. He practically never stops smiling.

Of course, his website and blog are another annoyingly perfect exercise in taste and function. Visit them.

1 comment:

Balices Pieces said...

Matt - I enjoy your photography. Kirsten and Dan gave me the link after I noticed your cow picture on Dan's family blog. You have an eye to make ordinary into extraordinary. I like to shoot whenever I get the chance and will follow your work for my own inspiration. Again, thanks for sharing. I truly enjoyed this.

Nick Gregory