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Nico lives – or is it just a voice from the past speaking? One thing is for sure, in the promotional trailer, the legendary singer of Velvet Underground, with her inimitable dark timbre, drawn-out timing and typical accent, invites listeners to get to know Curiosities by Daniel Efram. In truth, it is the type of rare discovery that can probably only happen thanks to the endless possibilities of the internet. Launched as a kick-starter campaign, the New York photographer was delighted at how surprisingly fast the necessary funds came together, allowing him to fulfill his dream.

Daniel Efram is a story-teller – each of his pictures transports the viewer into a unique world. And always in black and white – which is hardly surprising as the photographer has a weakness for film noir. He found some of his motifs while travelling but, above all, in his hometown of New York. “Its sidewalks are my catwalks,” explains the photographer, who cites Weegee, Brassaï, Diane Arbus, Sylvia Plachy and Garry Winogrand as his sources of inspiration. Just like those legendary photographers, he sees himself as a hunter and collector of the strange, the unusual, the dark. Apparently spontaneous encounters, curious places, suggestive moments: the scenes thrive on the atmosphere of the elusive and ensure an enthralling undertone, which first emerges with the overview and the sequence of the images. “This project is a black and white, fictitious, 24-hour scene-by-scene film noir of a day-in-my-life,” is the strikingly simple way the photographer describes it.

Efram’s images are defined by their fascinating timelessness – not least due to the use of vintage lenses: with their slight unsharpness and dark tones, they ensure that the images create the impression the photographer is looking for. “The dirty, grainy look of film, using vintage lenses, all those imperfections make me happy,” he admits. “Most contemporary photography just feels too clean and precise. I’m more interested in the distance between the subject and observer -- and seeing what I can get away with.”

In the photo book, we accompany Efram during his photographic research, discovering a very subjective documentation of everyday life; however, it is precisely this spontaneous photography, apparently lacking in direction, that unlocks the actual secret of the medium. The statement saying that, at times, it is only after the picture has been taken that you actually know what you were looking for, seems to apply to the photographer. As open as Efram is to his surroundings, the images always reflect his own mood.

“The images in Curiosities may have come from New York, Paris, Barcelona and Lisbon, but strung together, they whisper and enchant like a long and luminous string of black and white pearls,” is the poetic way in which Nicole Blackman, who contributed the introductory text to the book, evaluates the work. “When a photographer catches the right moment, he tells us about everything – even things that aren’t actually there.” Or what was it that Nico (who was brought back to life by Nicole Blackman’s voice-over imitating the singer in the promotional trailer) said: “If you spent enough time in his world, you just might change your way of understanding.” We would be delighted – and the first step is taken with the appearance of this new photo book.  (Ulrich Rüter)

Daniel Efram: Curiosities, 62 pages, 60 black & white pictures, 19.5 x 28.5 cm, English, Tractor-Beam (self-publishing). Edition: 500 copies
© Daniel Efram

Daniel Efram

Daniel Efram, was born in Poughkeepsie, NY, and worked in the music industry for over 25 years, taking on the production and management of artistic projects, primarily in the music area. He was involved in the marketing, promotion and development of numerous music albums, television shows and live productions, before discovering photography as his own creative passion. He has already had the first exhibitions of his work. Curiosities is his first photo book, and is bound to bring him additional attention. He lives in New York City.

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