You wonder what you’ve been doing with your life when you come across someone as creative, dynamic and downright talented as Baron Chat.
The 38-year-old resident of LA is a photographer, writer and illustrator, who just happens to be directing a couple of music videos ‘one for an indie artist and another for a big label artist.’
Currently, he’s also working on a ‘digital, graphic-illustrated series’; he has a novel in the pipeline, a mobile app, and most pertinently for us, a new Tumblr blog of photos taken on his beloved Nokia 808 PureView.
Conversations caught up with Baron to ask him about his photography, his “One Was… One Wasn’t…” blog and we delve deep into his Nokia phone history.
What was your first Nokia phone?
It was the Nokia Xpress Music 5300. I can’t remember enough to tell you much other than it was a great music player with a truly loud speaker. I used that phone as my alarm clock and never slept through it once. I bet I still have it buried around here somewhere.
I understand it was the Nokia N8 that started your interest in mobile photography?
It was my second Nokia handset, the N8, that helped me become the monster I am today. I’d never taken mobile photography seriously until that point; I thought you needed a fancy camera to take a great picture, and fancy cameras were way out of my budget.
All of a sudden I’m looking at these gorgeous pictures and incredibly sharp video.
I no longer saw the phone as just being a communications or messaging device but a bona fide art creation platform in the pocket. I had to get one, so I did. In green.
Can you remember your initial thoughts when you first heard about the Nokia 808 PureView?
First, I thought that I’d read it wrong. Then, I thought it was a typo in the press release and that it should’ve been 14-megapixels, which made sense: the N8 had about 12, so 14 seemed like a logical upgrade.
Then I watched the Damian Dinning interview on Engadget, and the video you released, the one featuring Paul Hames, with Dinning, Eero Salmelin and Juha Alakarhu, and read the white paper they published.
And I saw the sample shots. At that point, my only question was what colour do I want this one in?
When did you manage to get your hands on the Nokia 808 PureView for the first time?
Early November 2012. There were no retail outlets in the USA that carried it, so I had to order it online. I took it out that afternoon to the Kenneth Hahn Park for some test shots and the image quality was stupefying; the detail is just tremendous.
It just never gets old, looking at some of the pictures, knowing they came out of a phone.
The N8 had that effect as well, mind you, but with the 808 PureView it’s just exponentially greater.
To what extent has the Nokia 808 PureView replaced your standalone camera?
My standalone camera is a Ricoh GR DIII, which I got a few months after the N8, when I wanted to explore photography more deeply. It’s a great compact prime lens camera, but the 808 PureView has almost completely replaced it. The image quality on the Nokia is absolutely superior.
I’m working on a project right now that we were sure was going to require the rental or purchase of a DSLR, but we took the 808 PureView downtown for a day of shooting and after reviewing the shots, realised the phone was more than up to the task.
When and why did you start the “One Was… One Wasn’t…” Tumblr blog? Tell us about the name.
I started that blog on Thanksgiving day, so it’s young. My friends had been incredibly complimentary on my photography, but I wanted to know how people who didn’t know me would react to them, so “One Was…” began. It has been well-received so far and I’ve even given an interview to the PureViewClub about it.
The name, One Was, One Wasn’t, is an English translation of a Persian phrase “yeki bood yeki nabood”, that a good friend taught me.
Old Persian stories or poems would begin with that phrase, in the same way we begin lots of ours with “once upon a time”, only this stretches that space-time paradigm by sort of saying, “once upon a time, not once upon a time”, or, “this happened, or it didn’t, or “it’s happening now, or it’s happening sometime in the future”.
It’s beautifully ambiguous, and ambiguities make life all the more interesting to me, particularly when they’re so elegant.
How would you describe your photography?
It’s probably odd to say this but I love the mundane. The everyday stuff.
I’m fascinated by the world around us, the stuff in our backyards, the things in our friends’ apartments, and so forth.
I’m very much into textures, surfaces, geometry, moods, moments. I’m largely a black and white guy, but occasionally I like colour as well, when it’s not too distracting.
I guess, with tongue in cheek, I’d describe my photography as Post-Impressionist, but I don’t really know.
Any thoughts on replacing your Nokia 808 PureView with the Nokia Lumia 920 perhaps, or do you think you’ll be keeping that for a while?
I admit that when the time came to pull the trigger on the phone purchase, I had a hard time deciding between the 808 PureView and the Lumia 920. I’ve been to a Microsoft store and checked out the Lumia 920 in-person and really liked it; they’re gorgeous devices and feel great.
Moreover, there’s an entire aspect to my life in LA that happens after dark, and I thought that the low light performance and OIS in that smartphone’s camera would make for some really great night photography, or creative dark photography. Ideally, I’d have both, of course!
As for replacing the 808 PureView, you’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands. I’ll be using it till it breaks.
Follow Baron’s blog on Twitter: @onewasonewasnt