If Noah Kalina’s face looks familiar, it might be because you are among the 26 million people who have watched his 2006 You Tube video, “Everyday.” It’s a five-minute montage of thousands of daily self-portraits he shot over six years, beginning when he was 19, and it became an internet sensation. There was even a Simpsons parody. Laconic and low-key, Kalina declined offers to appear on Oprah and the Ellen DeGeneres Show, but the trajectory of his career as a photographer definitely took a turn. He went from documenting the interiors of New York City bars and restaurants for the early incarnation of Eater to shooting Mark Zuckerberg’s wedding portrait.Since then, Kalina has forged a body of work that straddles the line between art and commerce. His subject matter ranges from portraits and landscapes to erotica, and his corporate clients include General Electric, Disney, Levi’s and Google. Recurring series crop up on his heavily trafficked tumblr site and Instagram feed, which often feature images shrouded in smoke. (“My interest in pyrotechnics blurs the line between work and pleasure.”)
To escape the city, where he was “literally being poisoned” from exhaust venting directly into his Williamsburg loft, he began driving upstate, exploring little towns and staying in “weird motels.” After shooting an inspiring edible garden for a German magazine, thoughts of finding his own green refuge began to percolate.In 2010, Kalina visited his friend, Vimeo co-founder Zach Klein, at Beaver Brook, a 55-acre land preserve in Yulan, NY, and was taken with the natural beauty. Within two years, he had moved into a home of his own in nearby Lumberland. Ready access to nature is reflected in his work, especially what he posts on tumblr and in the slightly surreal Vines he creates. Residents of Barryville—or anyone driving through on Route 97—have seen Kalina’s transformation of an empty billboard that was an eyesore at the town’s entrance. He approached the owner with the idea of an art installation that would essentially serve to promote the area and a deal was struck. The advertising space now features two of his strikingly atmospheric photos taken near the Delaware River, one of his favorite shooting locations.
Kalina has forged a body of work that straddles the line between art and commerce.
Kalina recently collaborated on a project based on Cabin Porn, Klein’s popular site of crowd-sourced content that is edited by the residents of Beaver Brook. What started out as a scrapbook to collect inspiration for their building projects grew into a trove of images featuring rustic hideaways from all over the world. The book version, coming out in September from Little Brown, will include several of Kalina’s photos.
As for “Everyday,” it’s still a work in progress. In 2012, Kalina uploaded a version documenting an additional six years, and this past January marked 15 years of daily photographs. In the comments section of the original You Tube posting, the artist himself weighs in: “I would like to request that whoever is around when I die take my final photo.” No doubt there will be trees in the background.