A Life in Progress
24 Feb 2007
We've all done it. Maybe it was the last shot on a roll of film. Or maybe you were just having a good hair day. Whatever the reason, you take your camera, point it at yourself, and shoot.
But not everyone's done what Noah Kalina has. He's pointed his camera at himself just about every day for the last seven years running. His position and expression stay the same, but everything else changes, drawing your attention to the little differences: the shirt of the day, the length of his hair, the shifting background.
When Noah made a video montage of the first six years of photos and posted it to YouTube, it made him a mini-celebrity.
We wanted to know what that was like, so we sat down for a chat.
Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Noah Kalina. I am 26 years old and I live in Brooklyn, New York. I am a professional photographer.
Why did you start taking photos of yourself every day?
I was a 19 year-old photography major at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. At the time, I was mostly just shooting with film cameras. In 1999, digital photography was just starting to emerge, and I was really attracted to the possibilities that shooting digital could bring. I coupled this with an interest I had in the subtleties of the aging process, and the idea was born.
Ever missed a day?
In the beginning of the project, I didn't think it would actually be possible to do it every single day, so I would forget or go away without the camera. But as time went on, it became more and more important, and it quickly became a routine for me. I haven't missed a day in over three years. In total, I have missed 22 days, and five days were lost in a hard drive crash.
What's the reaction to the video been like?
The reaction has been amazing and totally overwhelming. I have done television and radio interviews all over the world, which have been both fun and nerve-racking.
The day it became the number one clip on YouTube, I received close to 1,000 emails in less than 24 hours. People from all over the world were writing me and telling me how I inspired them to start making art again. A lot of people told me they were going to start doing the same project with their children. Some people told me it gave their lives meaning again. I was even described in some emails as the pioneer of a new genre of photography. I'm not sure how comfortable I am with all of the praise I've been getting, but it's certainly very flattering.
What's it like for you to look at the photos/video now?
I can't watch the video anymore. I have seen it hundreds of times and to be honest, I'm sick of it. I never really even looked at the individual photographs much when my project was just the website. It's just something I do. I'm not an egomaniac who loves to stare at himself.
Are you still shooting yourself every day?
Yes, I still photograph myself every day. The subtitle to the video is "a work in progress," so I have taken a photo every day since I posted the video and I will continue to for the rest of my life. It's too bad I won't get to see the final cut.
See what Noah looks like today at everyday.noahkalina.com.