Fishers photographer JD Nolan tends to attract an audience when he sets up his camera equipment, as people immediately feel drawn to his old-fashioned photographic process that dates back to the Civil War era.
Using a Wisner 4×5 large-format, box-style camera, with a black cloth draped over his head and camera, JD captures stunning black-and-white images of scenes he comes across on nature walks, in the mountains, or even inside England’s magnificent cathedrals. Today, the 78-year-old artist photographs the intricate details of florals inside his home studio.
“It’s the same type of camera Mathew Brady was shooting in the Civil War, only he shot glass plates in his and I shoot film in mine,” JD says of Brady, one of America’s earliest photographers best known for his striking images of life during the Civil War.
As someone who prefers standing behind the camera and not in the limelight, JD often uses his wife — Christine Davis, a fellow Indiana Artisan and Raku pottery maker — as a buffer.
“As I set up the camera, people start gravitating towards me, so I immediately get underneath the black cloth, and my wife does all the talking to them,” JD explains with a self-deprecating chuckle.
JD took his first photography class more than 20 years ago at the Indianapolis Art Center using a 35 mm camera, but later switched to the box-style, large-format camera after attending workshops taught by photographers who previously worked for Ansel Adams, an American landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white imagery.
JD says the large-format cameras fascinate him, and Adams’ photographs from the 1930s and 1940s continue to inspire him.
“They still have an impact on me. I can’t just walk by one of his pictures,” JD says. “You really have to stop and look at them.”
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