Nicholas Pollack is a Brooklyn based photographer, and his interest for photography came from actively observing the world around him and a consequent desire to capture what he saw. His last project, Nothing Gold Can Stay, is a tribute to youth and its ephemerality, and photography is the perfect medium to try and capture that. Most of the subjects from Nothing Gold Can Stay come from complicated backgrounds, but intrinsic in their youth is an almost naive optimism, only present in those who still haven’t had their firsts real let-downs, heartbreaks... or faced any of the life struggles that come as we slowly but surely step into adulthood. The loss of that innocence is sad, and through this images we are invited to get lost in our nostalgia for a little while, and be reminded of our own youth and its endless possibilities, it’s awkwardness, vulnerability… and overall, its fleeting beauty amidst all the chaos.
First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself and your work. How did you first become interested in photography?
I first became interested in photography long before I ever really engaged the medium in a serious way. When I was in middle school I used to watch a young sapling that had been planted in a courtyard next to the library. I passed the tree each day at school, and witnessing it change with the seasons moved me to the point that I envisioned the cycle of its appearance through the seasons. I got a disposable camera to show this in its completion: winter, spring, summer, fall. As I reflect on it now, it strikes me more as an incident of “active looking” than a photographic impulse, but I guess the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
How did Nothing Gold Can Stay come about? How did you start with this project?
I was moving. I was driving my things between where I grew up in New Jersey and my apartment in New York, and I happened upon Branch Brook Park in Newark. I was reading The Cherry Orchard by Chehov at the time, and I was fascinated to learn that the park contains the largest number of cherry blossom trees in the United States. I envisioned some kind of survey of the Olmsted designed park, a series of landscapes maybe. While walking through the park with my camera making these types of pictures I began to happen upon particular places where people would congregate, and I would make portraits. One of these particular areas is where I decided to make the project.
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How do you choose your subjects? What makes you want to shoot a specific person or place?
The park as a place is the stage for the project. I establish a setting or an environment and then I can populate it. This park attracts me because of my background and my geography, and because of its inherent qualities and idiosyncrasies. In many ways this describes how I choose my subjects – it is an aura, an indefinable quality that speaks to me and compels me to photograph. In the context of this project I am looking closely at young people, expressions, gestures, thoughts and emotions that are not located in the picture frame. 
What’s special about Branch Brook Park and the people there?
Branch Brook Park is unique in that it is like a palatial garden set in poverty stricken Newark. The area where I photograph abuts a cathedral, a housing project, and a freeway. This confluence of features in the landscape informs the culture. The people who I meet in the park live in Newark, and they know the hardships of urban poverty. It is a hard life, but these people are often young and optimistic people who are able to play and let loose at the park. 
How do you approach your subject? And how do they react? Do you tell them about the project or just ask for a picture?
How I approach my subject often depends on how I perceive the person. For example, if I sense that someone is aggressive or hostile I may not choose to start a conversation with him or her about the project. Often times I ask people “may I take your picture?” and this is sufficient. I find that young people are generally more open to being photographed than adults. Sometimes if someone expresses an interest I will tell them more about the project. I always offer to exchange contact information so that I can give them a copy of the photograph.
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Do you learn about their stories? Is there any story or any Picture that you particularly like?
I do learn about their stories. Some people are more vocal about personal matters than others, but such is life. Manny is someone I have gotten to know over the course of the project, and he appears in a number of the pictures. I particularly like a picture of Manny with his friend Timmy on the steps of the cathedral. It was getting dark and they were shooting some skate videos of jumping the staircase. Manny always has his skateboard, and seeing him with Timmy working on the videos just feels right. They are part of my experience of that place. 
Why do you choose to photograph the youth? What do you think is so appealing from it? What does being Young mean to you?
Youth is possibility and youth is change. Youth is awkward and vulnerable. Youth is fleeting.
Photographing youth is like photographing wind, it’s so dynamic and constantly out of reach. The challenge of putting youth in photographs is appealing to me both in a literal sense but also in the sense that I can adopt a youthfulness of mind in my creative process. In the same way we are conditioned to the conventions of this life as we age, we are also conditioned to methods of producing art.
Being young is being true and unknowing – it is being who you are.
Young people are our future. 
What would you like for people to take away from this project?
I would like people to feel this youthfulness in all of its heartache and desire. We know that youth is temporary, and the loss of youth – of innocence – is tragic. I would like people to inhabit the energy of the characters in the pictures, to be interested in the place, to take a piece of the story with them.
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