Secret Music discovered in the Black Forest
A film on the beauty of slow sounds and images
In the summer of 2018, Nick was visiting his father in law in the Black Forest with his new-born daughter. Walking with family up a gentle slope, he heard the deep, soothing, but also eerie sounds of the Alphorn. The Alphorn quartet was standing, facing the vast view of rolling green hills, playing a melody which would reach the bottom of the valley.
As part of Channel 4's Random Acts series, Nick created a film that aligns with the moving observational and clean aesthetic of his photography whilst allows him to explore the effects of sound and time on his image-making process.
The Forest Sings is an exploration of the gentle unease and uncertainty built up in the Black Forest, like a storm brewing, as four men travel up a hill to play their alphorns. The notes blown have a soothing effect, calming the atmosphere and the tension, merging with the surrounding landscape.
Watch the film here
Copenhagen Suborbitals: A Volunteer-run rocket programme
Nick met the team behind the Suborbitals, at their warehouse in Copenhagen, where they are working on their next mission: Putting a human into space by 2030.
“We have engineers, metal workers, electronics guys, software guys – all sorts of skills,” their projects rely on crowdfunding, and their next rocket, Nexø II, is a mix of pre-existing components, repurposed for space travel.
This 6.7-metre-tall rocket, weighing 178 kilograms, will be fired 12.6 kilometres into the air, then float back down to Earth with a parachute. The computer used in the engine control system once was cashier’s terminal from a Burger King; the pressure regulation system is based on a scuba diving funnel; a previous rocket used a brake cable from a Fiat car to synchronise the opening of crucial valves. All driven by their love for space.
The story was commissioned by WIRED UK, published in their May/June 2018 Issue.
See the online story here.
Alone in the Åland Isles
Retracing the journey in search of contentment.
When The New York Times asked Nick to retrace the steps of a writer and mother who had visited the islands in search of isolation and contemplation he knew it would be a different kind of shoot than many of the others he'd been on.
There are 6700 islands of Åland with just 30,000 people residing there which for most of Nick's shoot was hard to believe having travelled for long distances by car and bike without seeing a single soul.
Surrounded by stillness and beauty the residents Nick did come across were more than welcoming and helped to give him access to parts that only locals would know.
View the whole story here.
Read the T Mag article here.
Surrealism by the Sea with David Shrigley
for BA High Life Magazine
On a commission from British Airways’ High Life Magazine, Nick went on a shorter kind of trip to meet with David Shrigley: one of Britain’s most culturally embedded, and most-loved artists. He is well know for having a combination of pitch-black humour with satirical scrawling.
A winter day in Brighton was the scenario for the portrait series, focusing on the artist new relationship with his adopted hometown. The artist moved in just a couple of years ago, and his bonding with the place continues to evolve as steps into the role of guest director at this year’s Brighton Festival.
Kenya, a Keen Sanctuary for all Life
Giving confidence to long lost travellers.
With beauty as far as the horizon and full circle, Nick was challenged to discover how conservation and safari tourism could go hand-in-hand. An animal orphanage, sacred deep water wells, and a truly epic landscape filled with protected wild cats, elephants, rhinos and fabulous birds, were all part of this once in a lifetime experience. The people of Kenya did not go unnoticed either, and Nick was able to capture some stunning portraits those living and working amongst the sanctuaries. A delicious feast for the eyes.
View the full story here.
Wind, Sand and Stars
The Atacama Desert for T+L Magazine
Nick recently spent a week in The Atacama Desert, Chile. This is one of the driest places on earth, and with the surrounding landscape one can get confused with Mars. From this great commission, he brought back a collection of images from treks lead by Explora Hotel, long drives through this remote stretch of Chile, and encounters with outer space machines: leading observatory complexes that are scattered over the desert to study the origin of stars, and the endless expansion of our galaxy.
The story was commissioned by T+L Magazine for their September Photography Issue.
See the full story here
A Meeting With The Peruvian Potato King
The 4000 year old treasure buried 14,000 feet up
Nick’s interest in South American culture and the uncovering and understanding of rarely seen communities this time has taken him to the Andes. Here he was sent by Patek Philippe to learn and capture a tradition and way of life that has hardly changed for millennia.
Without power or running water Julio Hancco, with his wife Rosa and their children, nurtures and creates new and unique varieties of potatoes that are sold in small quantities around the world as specialist ‘slow food’, grown in the purest of conditions.
The views that were slowly revealed through the cloud were certainly worth the four hour drive from the nearest small town up steep hills, where Nick and writer Jorge E. Benavides often had to get out and push.
View the full story here.
Up in the Highlands of Scotland
A cover feature on Travel+Leisure Magazine
Nick went on an autumn road trip through the glens and moors of northern Scotland on a commission from Travel+Leisure Magazine.
He moved across the scenic wilderness, through historic estates, country cottages and nature reserves for a story of a 400-mile drive. The feature also became the cover story of the November issue.
Reach the Highlands
Three Video Portraits of People and Place.
Giving a voice to those who give to others for Facebook.
For Facebook’s 2020 F8 developer conference Nick was asked to profile 3 developers doing exceptional work for great causes in their home towns in the USA and Canada. Hali in Austin teaches creative expression using VR/AR tech to underrepresented communities, Jorge in Omaha teaches coding skills to homeless people and Lissa in Toronto develops VR experiences, giving remote access to mindfulness and therapy to those suffering from anxiety.
See Photo Series
'Ekeko' on Internazionale
Nick's personal project 'Ekeko' was invited for a feature on Internazionale, an Italian independent magazine.
It was published this November on their Portfolio section, right when the project was also on its last day of exhibition at Kiosko gallery in Bolivia.
We are really enjoying to see Nick's Ekeko travelling so much!
See the full project here
A Land Apart
A tour of Bosnia, through history and the wilderness
30 years since the war, Bosnia is growing in popularity as a tourist destination with its astounding natural beauty and historical tours. For this Travel + Leisure commission, Nick cycled, rafted, hiked and drove from the bustling Sarajevo city to the remote canyons and wild rivers of the nearby countryside, learning much about how the past and the aspirations of new generations are merging to grow a new Bosnia.
View the full story here
On the cover of American Chordata
A New York based magazine.
Nick’s image from his project ‘The Virtue of Wrestling’ was featured on the cover of American Chordata. This rather special publication is getting all the positive attention from their very start. It carefully blends in fiction, nonfiction essay, and poetry, with art and photography. Nick created this project as part of his ongoing collaboration with Art Director Gemma Fletcher.
Click here to get ahold of their previous issues.
Shooting at a denim factory for MATTER.
Nick went back to one of his favourite settings when shooting indoors: Factories. As he often turns to see the human aspect of these rather mechanical places. This time it was denim factory, and met with its co-founder David Hieatt, to shoot a story for the ‘Identity’ Issue of MATTER.
'David Hieatt is the co-founder of the do lectures and Hiut denim, a cult brand of jeans. Both the lecture series and the Hiut factory are based in cardigan, a small market town in West Wales, which has played a central role in Hieatt’s life. Now he is shaping the town’s identity too.'
See the story here.
Beauty On The Ground
Finding a purpose when air travel is on hold.
Dummy magazine in Germany has showcased Nick’s project Ezekiel 36:36 in their 68th edition. Before the negative force of a global pandemic Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (LAB), one of the world’s oldest airlines was at threat of closure but a team of 180 unpaid staff continue to train and work to keep the remaining cogs of the airline turning and their dreams of a golden age or airflight alive.
See the full story here.
Find the magazine here.
Clerks featured in Bloomberg Businessweek
Inside the strange world of London’s clerks and barristers.
On a negotiation of his own documentary style, Nick silently moved around from all hierarchies, spent time capturing portraits of the senior practitioners and followed the more junior ones as their performed the clerking rite of passage: Trolley-hauling around the Royal Courts of Justice and to the offices.
Click here to see the featured in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Click here to see the full project.
In Residence: Sophie Hicks
New film for Nowness architecture series.
We kickstart the new year, with this new piece. For the film, Nick was able to explore architect Sophie Hicks’ Kensington house, which she designed herself. Juxtaposing the surrounding stucco fronted houses, this one looks like a glass rectangular box.
The front room, dining room and kitchen are surrounded by glass panes which blur the distinction between the outside and the inside: Kensington’s trees and bricks cast reflections which seep into Hicks’ home. Nick captures this merging in all its mysterious calmness. He gently weaves in the humanistic nature of the building: the way in which this home functions not only because of its design but also because of the people who live and work in it.
In Sophie Hicks’ own words, Nick has“captured the atmosphere of the house so beautifully...all of it flows well and it is very calm.”
The film was released on January the 2nd on Nowness' online platform
You can also see it here
A Haunting We Will Go
Searching for the lost souls of Leipzig.
In this month's New York Times T magazine the team chose an unusual way to explore a place for their travel edition, through tales of the otherworldly. Commissioning 3 short stories and accompanying photo stories we learned about the minutia of the everyday and every dimension. From the editor Hanya Yanagihara, “Every traveler knows that some of the most moving and profound encounters she has in a foreign land aren’t with the living, but the dead.”
See the full story here.
Find the magazine story here.
Cover story on TIME Magazine
A Portrait of Ireland's Prime Minister As a Young Man.
Nick was recently commissioned to shoot the cover story for Time Magazine's International Edition. On a quick trip from London straight to the Irish Parliament House in Dublin, he had the opportunity to meet and photograph the portrait of a new and rather refreshing name in politics: The Taoiseach, or Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar.
Inside the London School of Taste-O-Nomics
Nick takes a look at the Blue Mountain School in an article for GQ Style.
At the Blue Mountain School in the morphing “metallic novelty” of Shoreditch, the boundaries between fashion, food and design are broken. Nick takes a trip to this “art gallery meets fashion archive meets restaurant meets perfumery meets listening studio”.
The building covers six floors of retail space which often feel like a museum as the stored archive clothing requires an assistant and stairs-on-wheels to get down. The restaurant has an open kitchen where people can walk in and out to see their food being cooked. Like the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina, the Blue Mountain school offers a “new kind of arts education”.
This article was published in GQ style and commissioned by Photo Director Linda Denahan. Click here to read the full article.
Electric Daisy Flower Farm
The beauty of a Somerset Flower farm
Electric Daisy Flower Farm, are in their own words “romantic horticulturists, passionate about building a better, greener future.” Nick was commissioned by the farm to create a short film that presents the beauty of their Somerset location and Hampstead shop.
The film reflects the course of a growing season - from seed to bouquet, captured on multiple family camping trips to the farm. Revisiting the same scenes throughout a year was a rare and joyful experience for Nick, who had the opportunity to observe the hopeful energy of Spring and abundance of Summer, right through to putting the farm to bed in Winter.
This allowed Nick to create a film that evokes this relationship with the seasons, and which portrays the colour and awe of nature.
Watch the film here.
Talking trolls, sagas and Norse folk-tails around Reykjavik.
A story on Iceland's bestselling author, Sjón.
Commissioned by 1843 Magazine for its August & September 2017 Issue, Nick went on a photographic winter walk. He re-visited Iceland through stories created by one of its most well-know poets, lyricists, and novelists: Sjón. Influenced by David Bowie, the author was a pioneer of surrealist writing in the 70s, and often collaborates with Bjork.
Click here to see the story in 1843 Magazine.
Photographing Yinka Shonibare and his artwork for Christie's Magazine
Nick visited Artist Yinka Shonibare’s studio alongside writer Michael Watts, capturing his art, ideas and life experience. Nick depicts the way in which Shonibare’s work merges a simultaneously playful and intellectual look at colonialism and globalisation. The globe heads are “metaphors for humanity” and the colourful Ankara Prints question people’s ideas of “authentic African art”.
The article was published in Christie's Magazine and commissioned by BAM. The conversation with Shonibare ranges from Brexit to being a disabled artist and expanding his activities in Lagos.
Master of Form
Capturing designer Sonnhild Kestler's work and studio for The New York Times Style Magazine
Sonnhild Kestler’s company, S.K. Hand-Druck is a “one-woman textile manufacturer”. Kestler works alone, barefoot arranging and rearranging brightly coloured shapes of paper into new designs for screen prints. She is currently working on some designs for Maharam and Nick visited her studio in Zurich to capture the process.
The space of Kestler’s studio feeds her work; like a museum, it is a vessel for her collection of objects from around the world. As she moves around the room, often on top of the wooden tables, Kestler paints large strips of paper in gouache colours, drawing from the innumerate references surrounding her to create elaborate designs.
The piece was written by Alice Newell-Hanson, click here to see the full story.
Maharam 2021 Look Book
The spirit of Maharam through the lens of Nick Ballón
Textiles creators Maharam have recently released their 2021 look book, featuring photographs by Nick that illustrate the spirit and history of the company. Featuring three years of photographs for Maharam across Europe and America, the book includes visits to the studio's of Paul Smith, Sonnhild Kestler, Bertjan Pot and Hella Jongerius, details of Maharam’s colourful fabrics and images of the inner workings of their factories.
Now in their 7th year working together, Nick considers his relationship with Maharam as a true collaboration, offering him the freedom to express his own creativity, while highlighting theirs.
On the cover of Positive News
Nick’s portraits of Daphne Selfe.
Positive News honours ageing on its latest Issue, and Nick's images were the right fit to make the point. ‘The Age Advantage’ features Nick’s portraits Daphne Selfe ,the oldest professional fashion model in the world, in their cover of the magazine and opening of the story.
As part of a co-op media, this is a magazine that focuses on progress and possibility with a constructive journalistic approach.
The Eagle Factory
An English Company that transforms vintage automobiles into supercars
Nick was recently commissioned by Penta Magazine to shoot a story at the Eagle Factory. He went to a secret location in Sussex, where a small team of designers and engineers work on creating one of the world’s most exclusive supercars. Nick was able to see and capture craftsmanship defined, they truly hand-build and restore vintage cars to the owner's unique specifications. Every component—from the tiniest bolt and battery clamp—is scrutinized to see whether a fully renovated standard part is optimal, or whether they can make them better, lighter, and more durable. The vast majority of parts are improved or made in-house at Eagle.
See the article here
See the story here
Made in Scotland
Telling the story of cashmere & knitwear company Begg x Co
Begg x Co are a Scottish cashmere and knitwear company, who make and design their beautiful collections at their mills in Ayr and Hawick. Nick was asked by Studio Small to produce both stills and a short film for the company, which represent Begg x Co and their connection to both people and place.
As well as telling a story of the care, dedication and love that goes into their clothing at the mills, Nick carefully captured the endless skies, beaches, mountains and lochs of the rugged landscapes surrounding the mills.
The imagery was captured over three days in June 2021, during which time, the mechanical sounds of the mills and natural sounds of the environment were collected, and used as basis for the unique soundtrack, designed by Viljam Nybacka.
Watch the film here
Take a look at the stills series here.
Portrait of Maria Balshaw, Tate Britain's Director.
Nick recently met Maria Balshaw at Tate Britain for a portrait session commissioned by Bloomberg Pursuits. She became the museum's director last June, and has brought an energized and politically active approach.
“The Tate has expanded the landscape for art in this country. Now it needs to ensure that that expanded landscape is shared with the widest community of people possible." She adds during the interview.
Click here to see all portraits.
The great model train robbery
A mystery in the depths of the English countryside.
An endearing story about Britons train enthusiasts turned into a dark mystery of theft.
On a commission from Bloomberg, Nick headed to a location closer to home: The Gravesend Model Marine & Engineering Society (GMMES), a 66-year-old British railway club.
Nick rode at the back of a scaled down trains, photographed the club regulars, their love for locomotives and the unsettling feeling left after this crime, which still lingers in the air. The Mayflower, Simplex, Speedy, and the John Milton Metro are gone.
See the publication here
See the story here
Nick Ballón x Alma Haser
Maharam 2021 Print Campaign
Images from a new Maharam print campaign that Nick collaborated on with artist Alma Haser, have begun popping up in art and design magazines around the world.
The project began while Nick was working on his short film for Electric Daisy Flower Farm in Somerset. His eye was drawn to the eerily diffuse daylight of the farms poly-tunnels, which lent the flowers a scientific quality, as if they had been propagated underground.
Working at home during lockdown, Nick and Alma layered the resulting photographs taken in the poly-tunnel over Maharam textiles, scoring and peeling back each image to reveal the tactile surfaces below.
Through sculptural contrasts of texture, form, light, shadow and scale, the final images invite a closer look at each fabric.
Damien Hirst for The Sunday Times
Nick met artist Damien Hirst at Newport Gallery in South London, the artist very own museum.
On the time allowance, Nick had the opportunity to work with the pills inspired space in the Gallery's restaurant, and then had the artist lay on the floor at the bottom of a staircase as Nick hung with his camera from the very top view above.
The images were featured on the cover of The Sunday Times December 17th Issue. The story described the artist's latest show as 'the shipwreck of his career', a bit of his past, future and current position in the business.
Inside the Maharam Warehouse
Back in New York to capture humans and textiles.
Nick is always excited about working with Maharam, as he gets to document many aspects of the life behind this very special textile company.
On this trip, he visited their main distribution centre for North America, a 95,000-square-foot facility in Yaphank, New York. For this story, he is also able find the human side to 9000 samples, yards and yards of products and a massive infrastructure that ships to a long list of clients and manufacturers.
It almost feels as if like the rolls of fabric are looking back at you.
This shoot became part of Maharam’s lookbook, alongside Nick’s other images from their studios, artists, and factories.
See the story here.
'Armada' on the big pages of GDF Magazine
Nick was invited to showcase his work on the biggest magazine we have ever seen: A3 sized pages, filled with art and zero ads. Is not a usual combination we get to see these days.
Global Design Firm is launching their project this month, for which they created a big format publication that's been circulating around the Creative industries in New York. Nick picked his project 'Armada' to be featured, along other artists like Todd Hido, Mark Leary, Lucas Foglia.
See all the project here.
The Olivetti factory town of Ivrea, Italy
An abandoned, modernist utopia for designed living
"Ivrea, an Italian town run in its heyday by the typewriter manufacturer Olivetti, was once a model for workers’ rights and progressive design. Now, it is both a cautionary tale and a vision of an abandoned utopia — and evidence of a grand experiment in making labor humane." TMag
Nick revelled in the geometries and faded grandeur at the remains of the glory days of the Olivetti empire in Ivrea. This series focusses, as Nick's work often does, on the imprint left behind when people have abandoned a place and what these remnants might tell us about the ideals of the architects and workers who, for a time, called this place home.
See the article here
See the story here
Film & TV Director Armando Iannucci
On an editorial portrait commission from The Atlantic magazine, Nick met television and film director Armando Iannucci in London.
Just on the time for his film release 'The Death of Stalin', for which Iannucci turns to the Kremlin, satirizing the political struggle that followed Joseph Stalin’s demise. The film was shot pre-Trump, however events from the 1930s seem to match with the current political scene around the world as he comments during his interview.
Click here to see the full story.
Capturing snake venom in Liverpool
Inside the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
For this story on the Wellcome Trusts' Mosaic Science news website Nick went to visit Nick Casewell and his team who are working to understand what makes up the venom in some 49 different species of snakes. Feeding time at the herpetarium involves 163 snakes and the team there work to make antivenoms more effective and affordable for those around the world who simply can't get access to them. Nick entered the venom extraction room in order to photograph this series where snakes are free to roam.
See the publication here
See the story here
The Royal Academy's 250th Anniversary
for The Big Big Black Book by The Esquire
At the end of 2017, Nick visited The Royal Academy of Arts to capture it on its 250th anniversary. It was also the big day of the RA's Christmas staff party, talks on the halls made it sound like a memorable tradition.
Nick met with Artistic Director, Tim Marlow, in the drawing room as he reviewed some notes for a coming speech and shared some anecdotes. He was later joined by the Head of Collections and the Head of Architecture, who toured him around the areas under renovation of The Burlington House, a place that holds the most august institution of the arts in Britain.
The story was published in The Big Black Book, the Esquire's twice-yearly guide to the finer things in life, with their very stylish spin-off.
See the story here.
Visit a vision of eclectic minimalism
A tour around a French interior designer's 17th century chateau
After making his name in Paris designing menswear for Pierre Cardin, Pierre Yovanovitch opened his own interior atelier and his own home is explored in Nicks latest film for NOWNESS' 'In Residence' series
"A place where everything goes...naturally"
It was hard to leave once Nick settled into this palatial masterpiece of minimalism. With its outdoor pool, an immersive experience of exquisite furniture and art housed in an immaculately restored chateau.
Meet the man behind the mansion on the lastest Nowness commission by Nick.
Published on NOWNESS here
See the story here
for The Guardian Labs Commonwealth Series
On an editorial commission from The Guardian Labs, Nick met some interesting key characters involved with the Commonwealth Games and also Olympic Athletes currently representing Britain around the globe, like champions. This came out as part of 'The Home Team' series.
One of the subjects was star gymnast, Max Whitlock, whom he photographed doing some stunning acrobats on the pommel horse. This shoot felt like a proof of what has made Max a five-time Olympic medallist, a six-time world medallist, and Britain's first ever Olympic champion in artistic gymnastics.
See the story here.