Moonlighting with Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy, the actor best known for his role on 'Star Trek,' talks about his other passion: photography.

About 64 years ago, a neighborhood friend showed me how to develop a roll of film and make a print. My family had a camera – it was a Kodak Bellows camera, typical of the period in the 1940s. I put a roll of film in it, shot some images, went into the bathroom with chemicals, and locked the door. And I began learning how to make pictures. I've been in love with it ever since.

I've always been fascinated with the making of an image, the taking of an image. Years later, some 35 years ago, after I'd spent time working in television, I went back to school at the University of California at Los Angeles to study photography. I took a serious interest in the making of fine-art photography images. I was no longer terribly curious about candid camera shooting – vacations, and parties, and that sort of thing. I became much more interested in concept photography. I began working in that territory and then about 15 years ago, after I had finished with my "Star Trek" work and working on directing some films, I decided it was time to concentrate totally on photography – and that's what I've been doing.

I had been working almost exclusively in black and white until very recently ... I've begun to work in color. I shoot color when it's appropriate. I will still work in black and white when I think it's called for. I still do my own prints from negatives I have and have shot in the past, but I am shooting digitally.

The first major dig project that I did was about four years ago in Los Angeles. My wife was a trustee at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum was celebrating its 25th anniversary and, knowing that I was a photographer, they asked me if I would shoot portraits of the 25 first founders and funders of the museum. To shoot those portraits was appropriate in digital and in color. So that's what I did. More recently I've shot some other color work and some other digital work.

I published a book about four years ago called "Shekhina." It's about the feminine aspect of God. It's all black and white, and the models that I used were typical, classic models in terms of shape and size. I was showing some of that work at a seminar and a lady approached me and said, 'I'm of a different body type, would you be interested in working with me?' So [my wife and I] photographed her at our studio in northern California. I included a couple of images of her the next time I exhibited, and she seemed to get more attention than anybody else. I realized this issue of body image, particularly among women, is pervasive. There's a tremendous industry built up in selling women on the idea that they need to make changes in their bodies ... to try to more closely approximate what the culture calls beauty.

Photography is very gratifying; there are immediate results. I can get up in the morning with an idea, and by the end of the day I have made an object. It's very fulfilling, very exciting at times.

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