CP:Can you explain to me how you combine digital photography with the viewfinder camera?
JN: It's a technique called "through the viewfinder." I bought an old Argus 75 viewfinder camera. When you look through the top, you can see the image, so I just pointed my digital camera into the top of the viewfinder camera, and it captures the glass, the dust, and the scratches; the dirtier the viewfinder camera, the better. I've been shooting in this method for about a year. You have to make your own little contraption to connect your digital camera to the viewfinder one and block out the light. I tried a variety of methods, but the one I like best is using a Pringles can and duct tape. It's not very fancy, but it works. I get a lot of strange looks when I'm shooting with it.
CP: How did you find such interesting signs? Did you go on trips to photograph them, or did you just happen upon them?
JN: I do both. I was living in Tucson, Arizona, where they have a lot of old '50s motels with these awesome signs. I noticed that more and more of the motels were being torn down and replaced with chains. So I wanted to capture the signs before they were all gone. Now if I'm going to a certain city or on a trip I try to look for the signs, or research them on the internet to find where the different ones are located.
CP:What do you think these signs say about the past?
JN: I think they capture the nostalgia of a happier time, a better time; the whole '50s optimism and car trips. They used to be cool places to stay at. I think that's what a lot of people like about it: this bit of nostalgia for a simpler time when things were more individual with fewer of the big-box places.