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Munchies

'Dinner with Igor' Will Make You Wish You Ate Brunch with More Porn Stars

The guy behind Driven by Boredom is crowdfunding a photo book of his celebrity diner dates.

by River Donaghey
Oct 26 2014, 12:00pm

UPDATE: The Kickstarter raised almost $6,000 and Igor's book became a reality. Buy a copy here.

Last month Nate "Igor" Smith—probably best known for running the party- and girl-centric photo blog Driven by Boredom—set up a Kickstarter to raise $1,000 for a book that would feature photos of his friends during meals. Amazingly, he hit his goal in a single day, and is now nearing the $3,000 mark with just a few days left. What sets Igor's photos apart from all those terrible foodie Instagram posts? Igor may just be shooting pictures of his friends eating, but his friends are all porn stars, actors, and celebrities.

We feel partly responsible for the project, because in 2012, VICE published a collection of Igor's photos called "Dinner with Porn Stars." An image of future VICE contributor Stoya drinking a milkshake went viral, and the internet erupted in demands for the photos to be turned into a book. Now, following the success of Igor's first Kickstarter (which raised $3,300 to print a book called Get Your Kicks), he decided to see if people were still interested in a "Dinner with Igor" book. They were.

Igor's Kickstarter rewards involve everything from copies of the book, signed prints, and even a dinner with Igor himself if you give more than $500 (no one's taken him up on that yet). He may have already hit his initial goal, but if he raises $3,000, he's planning to throw a big party in NYC.

It sounds pretty cool, so I got in touch with Igor to ask some questions. Igor answered them in the midst of photographing Iggy Pop in Miami. I need some different friends.

VICE: When'd you start snapping photos of your friends during meals?
Igor Smith: In 2008 I made an effort to start carrying a point-and-shoot 35-mm camera with me everywhere I went. I tend to meet up with friends over food, so I started shooting food photos pretty much as soon as I started carrying around the camera.

Who's picking up the check? Are you buying the burgers because you're taking photos, or are you guys going Dutch?
If I shoot a model or something and we go eat after, I will usually pick up the check. A bunch of these photos are from dates, so I usually pay then, too. But I don't think I bought anyone food specifically so that I could take a photo of them eating.

Don't people kind of hate to be photographed with their mouths stuffed full of food?
It depends on the person. Some people hate it, some people think it's funny. The better friends I am with them, the less I care what they think.

Instagram and Facebook are already full of shitty photos of people smiling over plates of eggs benedict. No one is giving those guys money for a photo book—but they're giving it to you. How'd you end up buddying up with so many porn stars and celebrities?
I shoot naked babes and music festivals and parties for a living, so I tend to hang out with a lot of interesting people—but not everyone in the book is a close friend. I just took a photo of Aziz Ansari eating a burger backstage at his Madison Square Garden show and I think I'm going to find a place for it in the book. I know Aziz a little bit, but it's not like he and I get brunch together.

What's the draw to seeing famous people eating? Does it make them seem more real and human or something?
There are people that probably feel that way, but those people are reading US Weekly and not collecting arty hipster photo zines. The celebrity shit is the media hook, but the book is less about famous people and more about sitting across from someone bonding over a meal... Then doing that 200 times and making a book out of it.

When you're not shooting porn stars drinking milkshakes, what kind of photography work do you do?
I like to think of myself as some sort of documenter of subculture. Really I just take photos of drunk people, naked women, juggalos, and whatever I can convince people to pay me to photograph.

You crowdfunded Get Your Kicks too, right? Tell me about how that went.
I wanted to do a serious photographic road trip, but I didn't know how to pay for it. I decided that if I brought some naked ladies along with me, I could get people interested. Really, I just wanted to travel the country taking photos and emulate people like William Eggleston and John Margolis. But the fans of my photography seem to be a lot more interested in naked women than roadside attractions.

I pitched people on the idea of doing a black-and-white photocopied zine with most of the donated money going to pay for a Route 66 road trip. I ended up loving the stuff I shot so much that I found a printer who could do short-run books, and I was able to print 250 copies of a photo book from the trip.

The book sold out in a month and inspired me to keep doing these self-published, small-run books. I also loved the crowdfunding experience, where I could gather a bunch of people who were interested in the project and walk them through the whole thing. I have backed a ton of photo books on Kickstarter and I love seeing them come together. It's been great being on the other side of that.

Donate to the Dinner with Igor Kickstarter here.

Follow River Donaghey on Twitter.