The Notorious PUC: Photographer Nikolai Puc's journey from photo pits, to orphanages and fashion shoots
“My whole mindset with a camera in hand is to always ask to take a photo”
id="docs-internal-guid-54f235e6-7fff-84c0-a203-7dcd975d5999">Ask Nikolai Puc what his favorite thing to photograph is, and he’s at a loss. He shoots everything from live music to fashion modeling to travel and philanthropy — so, he says, it’s hard for him to pick a single favorite subject. It’s like choosing a favorite child.
id="docs-internal-guid-54f235e6-7fff-84c0-a203-7dcd975d5999">“I’ve had so many super fun moments at concerts. I just love live music so much,” he says. He shoots over 100 shows in a given year, photographing any- and everyone from GRiZ, to Afro Man and Judas Priest.
id="docs-internal-guid-54f235e6-7fff-84c0-a203-7dcd975d5999">“But the most meaningful is the travel stuff that I do because it allows me to work with charities and unique people and share their stories,” he says. “The charity aspect of it is a big part of my life.”
Puc has been immersed in photography all of his life. His mother is a professional photographer and photography teacher, so he grew up around the art and it was very natural that he found a love for it. Traveling around the world with his mother, she would encourage him to take pictures of the places and of the people that they saw.
id="docs-internal-guid-371bce20-7fff-877e-9466-6c068ac6e810">“When I was 12, I took my first international trip to Japan with my mom,” he recalls. While she was teaching, she gave him a little camera and told him to go wander the streets and take photos. “My mother is very trusting,” he says chuckling.
id="docs-internal-guid-371bce20-7fff-877e-9466-6c068ac6e810">His relationship with cameras grew from there, and so did his skills. Photography started throwing open windows of opportunity that wouldn’t have been there otherwise, and he found himself traveling, going to shows, meeting models and doing good charitable work around the world. All with his trusty DSLR camera in hand.
id="docs-internal-guid-371bce20-7fff-877e-9466-6c068ac6e810">“My whole mindset with a camera in hand is to always ask to take a photo,” he says. “Most of the time they'll say no. But when they say yes, it allows me to get something that's one in a million — whether that’s a life experience or just capturing a specific photo.”
However, when the pandemic ground life to a standstill last year, Puc had to change up his routine.
“The pandemic changed my photography in the sense that I didn't get to do all the concerts and travel that I had planned,” he says. “But on the flip side, my free time changed, which allowed me to go deeper into fashion and landscape photography.”
He shifted his modus operandi — adapted to changing times. He started exercising his skills in a different way — keeping them sharp, just with a different whetstone. Which helped him learn way more about lighting, color and tonality he says.
“That really allowed me to study and explore my editing capabilities,” says Puc. “Which is something that I'm very thrilled to bring back to concerts.”
Which should be really soon, he says. He’s already got a few Red Rocks shows on the books, and he’s already gearing up for traveling back out into a post-lockdown world. Life beckons! And Nikolai Puc is ready to capture whatever it throws his way.