Things started off quite innocently for Haikal Noyes. His first photographs featured his parents’ cats. Today, the Berlin-based photographer and graphic design artist prefers portraying himself. In 2009, Haikal started off with his "365" project on his blog. Knocking out one experimental (often erotic) self-portrait each day, he caught the attention of the homoerotic blogosphere.
Much of Noyes’s work tends to be sexually explicit, inspiring the latent voyeur. Consequently, Noyes has been invited by the Organizacion Nelson Garrido to produce a photographic piece for its Sexpo Masturbable exhibition in Caracas, Venezuela, in 2010.
There is more behind Noyes’s self-exposures than just narcissism. His carefully choreographed concepts are a process of inventing new personas.
Noyes’s's first solo exhibition is scheduled to take place in Berlin later this year. Most of his work can also be seen on his website at http://haikal.de/. And to stay current with Noyes’s photographs and writing, be sure to visit his blog.
The Advocate: Why are you a photographer?
Haikal Noyes: I appreciate the aesthetic in any form. In a way, photography — or any other realization of art — is a mystery to me. Although I can get very excited about the worlds a single photo can create and capture, I don't see myself as a photographer. I am rather someone trying to solve a riddle, whose questions are, How can I reproduce certain emotions in a piece of art? How can I make something look as good as possible? Photography is merely my current chosen medium to express my creativity.
Tell us about your process or techniques, as shooting images of yourself has to be a bit complicated.
Basically, the biggest trouble is the right focus — but I think that's an issue for photographers in general. While being behind the camera for the set up I cannot be in front of it to set the focus on the object, i.e. on me. So that probably takes most of the time when shooting a picture, and it has often happened that I shot that perfect photo — great angle, beautiful surrounding, good expression on me as a model — but the picture turned out blurry.
Everything else is simple: coming up with some kind of idea for a picture, finding the right location, setting up the camera, getting behind the camera — and pose. I can release the shutter with a small remote control; having pressed the shutter release, I have two seconds to hide it until the picture is being taken.
Why do you focus on self-portraiture?
Mainly because of practical reasons: As a photographer, it's an ideal situation to always have my model around when the right mood or moment to take a photo has come.
Furthermore, this way I don't have to explain myself a lot. In a way, taking a picture is reproducing a very intimate vision. The most likely thing to happen when working with others is a loss of information while explaining what I have in mind. Apart from that, I still consider myself to be in the process of learning, and I simply haven't felt ready to include others into my work yet. But that seems to be changing. Witnessing my work evolve, I begin to feel more confident about it. Besides, I'm getting tired of self-portraiture. I'm curious to explore more the interaction with other models in my upcoming projects.
What artists do you take inspiration from and why?
There are a lot of photographers whose works I admire, but I try not to get too much inspiration from them, as I want to avoid copying anyone's technique.
Many ideas I get from things that surround me — things that are important to me. Some of my pictures are visualizations of lyrics by Kate Bush, whose work has probably influenced me the most — not just in an artistic way but also in various decisions I've made in my life. In a way, she also was the reason for me to do self-portraits, as she is someone who does everything on her own — from writing the songs to producing the album, from directing the video clips to doing the cover art.
Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley, a novel I read several times, also serves me as a inspirational source.
But even seemingly trivial things, like a flexed muscle of some stranger in the gym, an episode of The Sopranos, or a spider spinning its web, can awaken my desire to come up with something similarly beautiful.