One post per day – a photograph on a white web page – of something Jason Evans has seen that made him feel happy/ feel positive/ feel nice.
Click images to enlarge.
The nice thing about it is that he wants to share that feeling. A play on and reaction to The Daily Mail, The Daily Nice delivers positive news on a daily basis to a thriving fan base. Simple ideas are the best ideas. i-D online asked the photographer about how he decides what constitutes nice, how he started and how this fantastic project has affected him on a personal level over the last eight years.
You started The Daily Nice in 2004, what prompted you? I felt that photographers were under-using the web and at that time technology was getting affordable enough and fast enough for me to make something, so I did. Most of my output is generated on film, but I’m also excited by the possibilities offered by digital technology. I wanted to send out positive affirmations and counter negativity that circulates in the media. My experience of the world is at odds with the scaremongering circulated as ‘news’.
There’s a direct email address on the site, what kind of feedback do you get? Have you formed any friendships as a result? I get people sending me their own nices, requests for secret shout-outs and even haiku based on pictures. I get anxious or depressed people reaching out for some discourse. And yes, I’ve made friends in the real world too. I once did an interview with a photography writer and now he and his lovely lady are good pals in Venice Beach, I’d never have met them otherwise. The most profound feedback I get is when people have told me I’ve changed the way they see the world.
You’ve spoken about it as a therapeutic process too, how has the site affected your life over the last eight years? Carrying a camera becomes a reminder to think positive. Small miracles are their own reward. I am consuming, but in a more sustainable, healthy way. The last 10-15 years has been a time when I’ve been learning how to live with my own depression and TDN has been a part of that.
What time of day do you upload? Usually at bedtime. It used to be something from that day, now I have a folder of potential nices on the desktop and I pick one out intuitively. If it’s been in the folder too long then it’s not nice enough I guess. The good news is that there is more nice than I can use. I try to be aware of becoming visually repetitive, I felt that I started looking for things that were potential nices, following a formula. I’m conscious of trying to ‘see’ again, to avoid becoming a visual formalist.
What tumblrs or blogs do you look at online now? I like Simon Foxton’s tumblr and also intelligent—–clashing. Truth be known I’d rather go for a walk in the real world blog of life.
The Internet has gotten so complicated, which just makes the simplicity of The Daily Nice stand out even more. Did you ever think of adding more layers? “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” There has been an attempt at making a physical version called ‘the daily nice takeaway’ at Kunsthaus in Essen. We printed up a load of old nices and each visitor got to take the next one from the top of the pile home. I like the idea that the gallery is a point of departure and the ‘exhibit’ of those images will just go on and on somewhere in Germany.
It’s a very pure concept, do you see photography as a pure medium? To capture something personal to you, without any interference? I think photography is a weird Victorian invention that suggested objectivity and serves up something quite different. I also don’t really know what ‘I’ am… a mish mash of lots of influences… I think the notion of purity is overrated, I’m an advocate of the melting pot.
The pictures disappear after a day, do you log them anywhere? Why do you like this sense of the ephemeral? Most of the first few years were lost on a melted hard drive. I’m not precious about archiving them, it’s not the point. It’s not about the pictures but what their content and display and disappearance suggests in a silly accelerated consumer society.
You were head of the jury for the photography strand at Hyères. What were you looking for? And did you find it? It’s hard to describe the selection process at Hyeres, it’s very sincere and organic. Michel and Raphaelle always get an amazing jury together: thoughtful, gentle people. The discussion about the 10 finalists this year took more than four hours of debate and gradually someone rises to the top. It was especially hard this year, such a range of work, from CGI to black and white analogue. We eventually got down to three and it was brilliant listening to the deliberations of my colleagues. It helped me understand my thoughts.
Lastly, tell me about your exhibition in Krakow? It is called Pictures for looking at and sculpture for photography. That’s exactly what you’ll find in the space. The Krakow Photomonth is a great festival in a beautiful city, see you there!
Text: Sarah Raphael
Photography: Jason Evans