It’s world photography day, and in celebration we shared a cuppa with local film photographer Nathan Kaso and had a chat about all things photography.
Creative fuel of choice (AKA coffee order)? Black coffee
Favourite film? Fargo by the Coen Brothers
Favourite camera? His Hasselblad
Hey Nathan, could you introduce yourself?
I’m a photographer and filmmaker, shooting weddings and personal projects (on the photography side). I do commercial video, and have been working for six or seven years as a wedding videographer. Photography is a hobby turned passion, I mostly started taking pictures of my family when my son was born, which led into photographing other people.
Photographing on film came through having friends interested in film within the wedding industry. It really helped me to get back into being excited to shoot because my interest was trailing off when it came to taking photos digitally, despite the fact it used to be almost an obsession. I love it more than ever now, I can’t stop taking pictures. Having limitations on anything is good but especially with photography, which is part of the reason I love film so much.
How long have you been photographing, and how long on film?
I started shooting film about four years ago. I was working in video predominantly and was only taking photos of my kids, not anything professional, but getting into film kind of snowballed everything. It went from taking pictures of my kids to working on other personal projects, like the series Mid Century Suburban.
Can you tell us about your series Mid Century Suburban, how it came about?
I was working from a studio in Brunswick East and I’d drive in each day and drive through Thomastown or Reservoir to get there. Occasionally I’d just stop and take a picture, and then it started becoming more of a thing I’d plan my day around. I spent a year going on walks in search of those mid century old 1960s double brick houses. I took a whole lot of shots in different areas of these homes and one day when I was going through them I was like why do I like these ones so much more? The brick houses around Thomastown area, more than say the ones in the inner north. And I realised it was because all of the houses were so clean and in place. The gardens were perfectly manicured. It’s more of a I’ve grown to love those houses because I’ve photographed them type thing, not an I’ve always loved them and documented them for that reason. So I worked out all the elements I liked and then look for those elements when I go back.
The next step is hopefully to take portraits of the people who live there, which turns out to be a very difficult thing, because the residents are often elderly and are hesitant and confused as to why someone would want to take photos of them. The idea came from a portrait I took of my grandmother who lives in Viewbank and has since the 60s. Her house is mostly original. I took a photo of her sitting in a room in her house and the idea was; this is her home, she’s lived here for sixty years and is the original owner of the house. And when she leaves the house it will completely change.
The interesting thing is that a lot of the residents of these houses in areas like Thomastown are the people who built them, a lot of East European and Mediterranean post war migrants, and they’ve lived there and maintained their house beautifully and kept it the exact same for fifty or sixty years. And once they move out they’ll probably get renovated or bulldozed. It was a real working class generation and wasn’t people with lots of money, so they were very proud of their homes and maintained them so well. And today where we renovate things and update them they didn’t, so they’re in immaculate original condition from the fifties or sixties. There’s just something really interesting about that, and important, because many of these resident came at a time when we had a huge migrant intake after the second world war, and these people had a really big role in shaping Australia. But even if they bought the house in 1960 at only twenty they’re now eighty, so in another twenty years time a lot of these houses will be gone, and those suburbs could change hugely. Generally most people now won’t want to live in a house styled like the 60s. I’m still hoping I can find someone interested in being photographed to kick it off. Of course people in these neighbourhoods know their neighbours so once I find one person willing to be photographed I’m sure I can find more.
What’s your favourite thing about being a photographer?
Actually I did a podcast interview with John Dolan, and I don’t want to steal his line but I feel like I almost have to, because he says “I’m not a photographer, I’m a collector of moments”. And that’s what I love about shooting on film, every time I press the button it feels like I’ve got one, and it’s in there, on an actual thing. That’s what excited me most, knowing I’ve got something, even if it doesn’t work. It’s like you’re filling up a bag. That’s the thing I love the most.
You can find more of Nathan Kaso's work and reach out to him about being photographed as part of his Mid Century Suburban series via the links below -
more on the Mid Century Suburban series: https://www.nathankaso.com/suburban-portraits