You may recognize Noah Kalina. Or, at least, a more baby-faced version of him. In 2006, the photographer went viral with “Everyday,” a video that condenses six years of daily self-portraits into a five minute time-lapse. This early taste of online success—at a time when many of today's “creators” were still in Huggies—opened Kalina’s eyes to the career-making potential of the internet. He's since fashioned himself into something of a digital Renaissance man, with a popular newsletter, an equally popular Instagram, and a podcast with the tongue-in-cheek premise of direct-to-consumer product reviews. Ironically, for someone so very online, Kalina lives a Thoreau-like existence in upstate New York with a rooster named Marcel. We caught up with him (the man, not the poultry) to talk about the tension between his onscreen and offsceen lives, his ambitious work goals, and bamboo toilet paper.
Hi Noah. Let's start with your newsletter. It's so gosh darn creative. How do you come up with your ideas? Is there a process involved?
Well, sort of... I have a piece of paper that I just have jotted down concepts, so I'm slowly checking those off. But then, there'll be times when a new idea just comes to me and I'm like, "Oh, that's what I'm going to do!”
And of course, the way you write is hilarious. I'm sure people tell you this all the time.
Yeah, sometimes. Thank you. I find that compliment amazing because I barely know how to read. Someone once said my writing is like an adult children's book. My natural impulse is to just fuck around and to tell a joke and fail. Now, I’ve developed a formula that I kind of go to. I mean, I think I've always been a funny person, but my photography isn't necessarily funny. So I'm kind of exposing a part of myself on the internet that I never really have before. Just within the last two years, so much has changed in the world and with my career. I got to the point where I was like, ”I just have to do what I like to do and express myself in ways that make me feel most comfortable."
In your first newsletter you said something along the lines of, "This is to showcase my photography." But clearly, the concept has evolved…
Is that what it says? I couldn't even look back. They're too embarrassing.
Do you consider the newsletter your main job at this point?
Oh, yeah. Maybe not my main job, but I want it to be the main thing that I do.
More than your photography?
Well, it’s like, what's the better goal? To be a commercial photographer or an artist? The answer is obviously an artist. I want to just make my own work on my own time. And the newsletter is ... I wouldn't say it's my art, but it's my own self-assigned project that is almost always built around a series of photographs. In terms of income, the newsletter is not enough right now on its own, but it's starting to feel like, maybe very, very soon, it can be. And I'd much rather run the newsletter as my job than anything else I’ve ever done in my career.