Interview: Celeste Noche on Travel and Food Photography, Books in Scotland, and Taking Your Time

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In one of my favourite interviews so far, I chat to Celeste Noche. She's an incredibly talented photographer, whose warm and inviting style captures people in their element, being comfortable in themselves. I was lucky to hear more about her project photographing books in Scotland (amazing!), and the travels her trade takes her on. 

Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Celeste! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, will you tell me a little bit about yourself and where you are today?

Celeste Noche:
Sure! I’m a photographer from San Francisco, living in Portland, but currently in Scotland for an artist residency taking photos of bookshops, libraries, and private collections all over the country. It’s hard to classify the type of work I do, but my range usually falls within food, travel, and weddings.

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your photography in three words, what would they be?

Celeste Noche:
Soft, quiet, real.


Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into photography? Is this something you’ve been formally trained in?

Celeste Noche:
My earliest memories of taking photos were during summer camp when I was 13. I loved that time and place so much, I wanted to do everything I could to preserve and remember it. So I started with disposable cameras and went from there. I was too afraid to study photography at university, so everything I know now is a mix of constant practice and learning from friends.

Magic & Musings:
Did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place where you could share your photographs?

Celeste Noche:
I was always okay sharing my photographs, especially when I started blogging in college, but mostly because I didn’t think of myself as a photographer. I felt unworthy of the title, so I just said I enjoyed taking photos and that seemed to take the pressure off. I think removing labels and recognizing myself as a constant work in progress was key.


Magic & Musings:
Of all of your projects, which are you the happiest with and why?

Celeste Noche:
Superlatives are always difficult and always changing, but I’m really proud of a piece on Filipino desserts I wrote and photographed for Food52, and I’m really excited about my photo series on books in Scotland that I’m working on right now.

Magic & Musings:
I'm sorry, you lost me at desserts...haha! I've got to say, your Scotland in books photo series is absolutely stunning.
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying or non-binary artists and their work. Which photographers, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Celeste Noche:
I have an endless list of female photographers who have been a great influence but lately I’m really loving Daniella Zalcman and Jenny Baquing, both WOC. Not only is their work stunning, but they use their art and platforms to have really meaningful discussions.

Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to?

Celeste Noche:
Before I began freelancing full-time, I had a day job and would shoot on weekends and edit at night, and I haven’t been able to shake the habit since. I’m my most productive just when I should be getting to bed, preferably with a snack and a favorite TV show playing in the background. Usually in bed!


Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Celeste Noche:
I try to distance myself from whatever it is I’m working on and try something else. Lately, for me this has meant taking a walk with some of my film cameras and practicing with those.

Magic & Musings:
What are some things you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?

Celeste Noche:
Sometimes it feels like I’m never not working, but I love reading, having picnics, taking care of my plants, and dabbling in Asian skincare products. Oh! And making music videos with my besties.

Magic & Musings:
I've got a soft spot for those Korean coconut water sheet masks. Baby soft skin in a snap!
What tools do you use to keep yourself organised?

Celeste Noche:
An inconsistent mix of bullet journaling, my google calendar, and impending anxiety.

Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in a medium other than photography? Is this something you would consider in the future?

Celeste Noche:
Sometimes I fantasize about other lives I’d like to have: a painter, a location scout for films, singing in a band. I haven’t really explored them or ruled them out, but I really love what I do now so I’m focusing on that.


Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out as a photographer?

Celeste Noche:
Take your time. Don’t be afraid to ask (the worst answer you can get is “no”).

Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Celeste Noche:
Book - In Altre Parole by Jhumpa Lahiri
Film - Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Album - Alvvays’s self-titled album

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? What’s on the horizon for you in the next few months?

Celeste Noche:
Don’t underestimate the power of what you’re doing and why you’re here! Recognize the value in your work and make sure you get paid for it.

I’m wrapping up my Scotland photo series but hoping it’ll be an ongoing project in the near future. I’ve got some open time this summer, so I’m looking forward to filling it with meaningful work and collaborations with like-minded people. (If you want to work together, please HMU!) As for finding me-- I’m all over the interwebz: my blog is celestenoche.com/blog and I’m @extracelestial on twitter and instagram :)

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