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Meet Nikki, black and white photography artist

profI am a fan of black and white photography. I find I tend to look longer at B&W photographs, especially good ones. They arrest my attention. They make me look deeper. There is a great quote by Robert Frank which goes “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.” B&W photography helps me understand that quote a little better.

This feature is about Nikki, one of my favourite B&W photographers. Check out her Instagram account @n1ks to find out why.

What do you do?
I work in the hospitality and travel industry, and my work takes me to many interesting places meeting many interesting people!

Describe yourself in a few words.
Introvert, Extremely nerdy, and a Go-Getter.

You have a great collection of black and white photographs on Instagram. What got you started?
Thanks! I’m really glad you enjoyed them! I’ve always loved the aesthetics of black and white photography, so it was only natural for me to shoot in black and white. I love how emotions, ideas and beauty can be expressed within the limited spectrum of black, white and the greys in between. Don’t get me wrong, I do love colours but I must admit that I’m partial to great black and white photography. 

Is this something you do with both a camera and a phone? Or just a phone? Does a lot of editing go into your pictures before you post them up?
I currently shoot using an iPhone 5 exclusively, and I started my portfolio with an iPhone 4 which actually had a faulty camera lens that couldn’t focus! It wasn’t till I was using a friend’s phone to take a picture that I realized that my phone was faulty. A lot of my earlier work featured that slightly hazy, slightly out of focus element that I think added a little bit of character to the photos.

In terms of editing, I use the Hipstamatic camera app, which shoots analog style pictures. The outcome is random based on the lens and film chosen, and there is little to no editing done after the photos are ‘developed’ in the app, apart from cropping. Lately though I have been experimenting with VSCOcam, and their black and white filters are awesome!

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What are three tips to a great black and white photograph?
Lighting. So so so important when it comes to B&W photos. Lighting really affects the contrast of the photos, so it really depends on what kind of photo you are going for.

Constant vigilance. Always be on the ready to snap a photo coz you never know when the right ‘Kodak moment’ will present itself.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try different angles, different editing techniques, different subjects to take photographs of.

Know the phrase "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"? Are you able to find beauty anywhere, in anything? Or are you selective?
Haha, who doesn’t! That’s a great phrase, and really encapsulates what photography is all about!

Shoot from the heart – shoot what you think is beautiful, and not what you think other people will think is beautiful. I am a little bit selective on my subject matter, I like to have a recurring theme in the photos that so that eventually people will recognize my photography style even without my name attached to it. One can only dream!

I love taking photos of light fixtures, small design details, and architecture. For my street photography series – I love capturing everyday life (subways, especially!) and things that we often overlook.

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What are personal creativity boosters and killers?
Fear is a definite creativity killer. I think if you have fear or hesitation in the things that you do, it really limits your creative expression. For a long while, I hesitated on what kind of photos to upload, and whether they were worth sharing, but in the end, I just went with it and uploaded them anyway.

Encouragement and acknowledgement from other B&W photographers has been a great creative boost for me. It helped me overcome my own fear of my photos not being good enough and gave me the affirmation I needed to keep doing what I do.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by the small things that we overlook, the everyday objects that people don’t necessarily perceive as beautiful.

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