Linda Lerner, March 5, 2001
Put Gail Nogle, a camera and people together in a studio or on location and all kinds of things start to happen. She is curious about people and loves usual and unusual settings. But even more, she loves to create an image of her subjects by adding props that say who they are.
“I draw from every shoot I’ve ever done and use my experience to look OUT of the BOX.” Nogle explains that she takes all that she’s seen and learned while looking IN the box of the camera, to create a bigger image that gathers what she’s seen OUT of the box into a specific image. “The payoff is that I now have the confidence to try all kinds of different things. I know what to do to get what I want.”
Nogle also loves to make her shoots fun, not only for herself, but for her subjects. Her sense of humor, warmth and acceptance of whatever they want to bring to project their personalities helps turn many sessions into a wild and crazy time. It’s hard to stop laughing when she drapes UPS delivery men or star football players, or landscape artists with all kinds of paraphernalia that project what they do for a living.
Nogle uses ALL of her senses to project HER brand of photography. She takes subject, lighting, weather, setting, even vibes… everything….into consideration. She invites the child, family, group, whoever the subject is, to add props that show who they are. That’s ONE of the ways she goes OUT of the BOX to create an image or impression, and not just a photograph.
After shooting families and children for years, it was an old carriage house in the middle of Dallas she claims was the turning point in her career. “Every year I used to photograph my daughter standing by the Wisteria Bushes in front of an old home near Presbyterian Hospital. Now there’s a bank on that property. The house was dilapidated, but not rundown.” Nogle describes the setting. “While taking my mother to the hospital a few years ago, I saw a sign that read “Up for Re-zoning.” The driveway gate was open and an open car was in it. I jumped at the chance, left my Mom in the car, and literally ran up the driveway to find someone who’d talk to me about that incredible house.”
“I found out It had been built by a man from Ireland. It was HUGE and so picturesque. But what I really fell in love with was the carriage house.” Nogle melts as she talks about it. “It was intriquing ( or haunting). ”
“I spoke to the caretaker and found out that the owner had just died. He put me in touch with the head of the Boy Scouts at the time, who was somehow connected to the family. That’s who understood what I wanted to do, and got permission for me to shoot anything and everything there. That’s what I did……EVERY DAY in every way, FOR SIX MONTHS!”
Nogle shot everything possible. Once her clients found out about it, they, too, came under its spell. She shot birthday parties, brides, guys and gals with their Morgan sports cars and Harleys, musicians (Gail’s husband is a member of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra), cowboys, grandmothers, mothers and children, ballet and flamenco dancers, her son’s eighth grade class, mounted police, actors in costume from Scarborough Fair, you name it.
“I had such a great love for the place that I just cried when it was torn down. That’s when I knew I had to find a NEW “Carriage House,” another setting that was as fascinating to use as a backdrop. That was the turning point for me. I strive to improve every day and have found it most rewarding to work for a stretch at one location with different subjects over and over again, simply to see the different results. My purpose is to create magic and delight and I have a passionate desire to shoot for the soul.
Nogle says one mentor, Jay Stock, encouraged her to make self assignments to photograph unusual people and places and things. He taught me that the more you see, the more you “SEE!”
Now, the WORLD has become my Carriage House. I’ve shot the beautiful orphan children in Romania, am about to go for a second time to Inner Mongolia to shoot the warm but captivatingly calm people there.” Nogle adds, “I shot the oldest family owned business in the US-a hat factory filled with feathers and straw and beads and hat molds in St. Louis. I waited for hours I England to shoot Princess Di’s funeral and the Queen’s first viewing of the incredible floral memorial to her outside Kensington Palace.” She solemnly details.
Nogle then changes gears and laughs describing how she captured a snow storm in Flagstaff, Arizona in May while staying out in a tent with a Native Navajo Indian guide in Monument Valley.” In the next breath getting more serious, “I captured a black and white ghost-like image of the capitol with a speck of a man carrying an open umbrella under snow laden trees in Washington, D.C. during a freak White Out.” Then changing gears again, ” I got up close and personal with wild animals in Africa, minus any barriers between us. That really taught me about animal freedom.”
“I guess in some ways I want to preserve history, by recording important events and by documenting buildings from past eras by making them come alive through my lens. For example, I want to record Nuns in Ireland in their traditional habits before they aren’t being worn any more.”
Being naturally curious, Nogle says, “I see intriguing places and people and I start to ask questions. I have to get inside. Seeking and seizing opportunities is important to me. So I invite anybody to let me in on unusual or common settings and events I can use to make my photographs more than pictures. Everything I do builds on everything else. A mistake in one shoot may be just what I need in another. ”
“I guess you could call me a modern day Impressionist I want to create my OWN impression of what I see. Everything I do, think about, live and breathe OUT of the BOX, goes INTO the camera to create MY eye view of the world. ”
“I have now been working out of the box for over 25 years, Nogle is emphatic, ” My philosophy and what works for me is to travel and teach and learn and see and experiment and experience and play; shooting all the while. What a Life!”