Greater New York Area
Born in New York City in 1946, Nick Levitin’s first love was the movies and the theater. At an early age he was deeply affected by the plays and films he saw and even then wanted his work as an adult to have a comparable impact on others. The world of film and theater provided Levitin with an education in the visual and emotional life around him. This led to an exploration of still photography with his parents’ cameras. By the time he was 18, his father bought him a 35mm camera with three lenses and his passion for photography was awakened. The powerful draw of the theater however proved stronger. He determined that he wanted to pursue acting and studied theater at Boston University’s School of Fine and Applied Arts where he received his BFA.
After working for several years as an actor in regional theater and in New York City, he felt photography’s pull again and studied commercial photography at the German School of Photography. Shortly thereafter he began a photography business taking headshots of actors. This eventually led to family and corporate portraiture. He abandoned acting and expanded his focus to documentary photography and videography. He spent over a decade as the New York Foundation’s in-house photographer and in fact had his first solo show there entitled “The New York Foundation at Work”. The first video he directed was also at the Foundation and was entitled “Making the Census Count”.
Most of Levitin’s photography work for the past several decades had been individual, family and corporate portraiture. He recently felt a desire to do more personal work. He wanted his work to reflect the world he sees around him and now devotes himself exclusively to documentary and fine art landscape and portrait photography. His photos are all in black and white and are informed by his background in theater. They have been described as “evocative, soulful, and intimate.” Levitin has had a number of solo shows in New Jersey and his work is included in several private collections as well.
He has taught photography workshops to young men and woman who attended the Dream to Achieve summer camp at Bard University in upstate New York and is currently taking photographs for a non-fiction book project with author Janice Cohn.
In May he will be on a panel of artists at the Montclair Museum, Montclair, NJ. The subject is artists, aging and exhibitions.
My first love was the theater. I started out as an actor. There is a moment before a play begins, there is a hush, then the curtain rises, and we see something. Our imagination takes hold and we are off on a journey. That’s what I try to do with my photographs. I make documentary and fine art photographs, all in black & white, that go inside the moment and try to savor it.
As a young boy, I was very fortunate in that my mother was an Art Director for Time Inc., publishers of Life Magazine. At the time, it was one of the premiere photo magazines on the stands, with photos taken by the finest photographers in the world.
When taking photos, I am guided by a concept articulated by the photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, “A photograph is neither taken or seized by force. It offers itself up. It is the photo that takes you.”
I strive to find a theatrical moment in every photograph, and cumulatively, my photographs attempt to tell a story, whether the focus is on people or nature. The subject can be a man on the street, or a boat on the beach. Even in nature photography, there is something that evokes an emotion or a memory, a sense of participation or solitude. I am drawn to what is happening within the frame of the photograph – the relationship between people and the space they occupy – whether it is isolation, a sense of loneliness, or peace in nature. I yearn for connection and I think my photographs reflect that – whether the subject is people or nature, I seek engagement. The goal is a photograph that evokes thought, emotion, and memory.
These days my photographs are all in black & white. Often, I find color distracting. For me there is something mysterious, sensual and engaging about a black and white photograph. That is why I prefer it over color. Photographer Dominic Rouse, puts it well, “Color is everything, black and white is more.”
Having studied theater and photography, I bring to my work a sense of the theatrical moment, often with a focus on solitude, moments of contemplation, and a yearning for connection.
My first love was the theater. I started out as an actor. There is a moment before a play begins, there is a hush, then the curtain rises and we see something. Our imagination takes hold and we are off on a journey. That’s what I do with my photographs. I make documentary and fine art photographs, all in black & white, that go inside the moment and savor it.