Darkroom - Neil DaCosta
In this feature we keep a discussion with photographers about when they started out shooting. We´ll show some images from their early work and do a brief interview, first out is: Neil (Neir) DaCosta.
Neir is an amazing photographer with a very unique way of seeing things and has always gone his own way. Neir just relased a new website which you have to check out. Internet yourself to www.neildacosta.com ASAP.
What do you miss about shooting photos from back in the days?
I had it very easy. Got paid to travel with friends and play in the snow. The hardest part of my job was hiking and building jumps, which isn't really hard at all.
What are you doing nowadays?
I left snowboarding with the hopes of shooting editorial and advertising photos in different markets. I soon realized though that I only had photos that involved snow. The feedback I was getting from potential clients was "Great photos, we know who to call if we ever need snow photos". Which, outside of the snowboarding industry, isn't often. So nowadays, I am working hard at rounding out my portfolio. I just launched a new well-rounded website and am trying to get it out there in the world.
Who inspires you now, and who was your biggest inspiration back in the days?
Inspiration comes from all over for me. I continually get inspired by many random visual things... photographs, movies, paintings, old, new, words, professionals, amateurs, scribbles on bathroom walls, bizarre scenes I see on the street...
For snowboarding, inspiration came from Kevin Zacher. When I first moved West, I was his assistant and was constantly around his photos. I saw every one, not just the ones that got published. He showed me that a good photo could come out of any snowboarding situation, even if it wasn't someone on Burton doing a huge stunt.
What do you prefer now? Digital or Film?
Uh oh. I used to swear by film, but now I am going to have to go with digital. There, I said it, I prefer digital now. At least for color. However, I still despise black and white digital. It looks so shitty. Nothing beats a print from a big old b&w negative.
Elaborate on why you would prefer film..
You can't recreate grain in digital, yet. Check back with me in a few years and I might be shooting b&w digital though.
What was your background before you shot photos for living?
I was 16 or 17 when I started shooting photos. I went to university for photography and when I left, I moved to UT. Nothing to exciting before I was shooting snowboarding. Just random after-school jobs in New Jersey.
How did you get into it?
All my photo classmates were either going to NY or to LA to try and "make it big" after school. I wanted nothing to do with that. I had grown up snowboarding for fun and somewhere along the line I had picked up a snowboard magazine and said "I could shoot these photos". I started emailing photographers to see if they needed any help. I emailed Trevor Graves and he recommended getting in touch with Kevin Zacher. I emailed Zacher and he said "Yea give me a call if you ever make it to UT" A few weeks later I packed my van and headed West. I lived in a tent in UT for a week until I found a room to rent. I then called Kevin, who seemed kind of suprised but said "Come over, I am going to shoot something right now." And that was that. I bet I still have that first email somewhere.
Is shooting snowboarding something you get tired of?
For me, yes. I had a blast and really appreciate what snowboarding did for me, but I lost interest in it. But, after taking a year off, I would love to do some trips next year. Unfortunately, a big part of snow photography is being in constant contact with the industry. I haven't been keeping up with my contacts, and may have shot myself in the foot. Hopefully though I can re connect and get some snow jobs next season. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the offers will come rolling in after my Spatziba interview!
What was the day you thought you had THE shot that would make you the king of the world?
Haha, still haven't got that shot yet. I do take some "fineart" shots (on black and white film!) that make me feel like the king of MY world, but would probably just creep out the rest of the world.
What's the hidden link between shooting snowboarding and Playboy?
Layers and layers of warm clothing? I was never very good at getting girl's clothing off.