Through the eye of a photographer, she captures life using light, a vista, or that unique look on a person or animal’s face. This is a talent not everyone possesses. One professional photographer who does it so uniquely is Nilla. Through her blogging platform, she inspires me and I am sure many more, to see a country and people in a different light.
In her own words, here is Nilla:
Thank you, Suzanne, for your kind invitation and this opportunity to share my work with your audience!
Nilla, when did you start to take an interest in Photography? Also, when and where did it become more than a leisure activity?
At an early age of around 10. I started taking mental snapshots of places that I knew would look great on film, then returned with my 110mm film camera to take the shot. It didn’t take long before I learnt to take my camera with me everywhere.
Remember those awkward little plastic cameras that produced a very thin strip of negative?
The fascination I found in the 110mm cameras was how such a tiny piece of transparent plastic negative could contain so much information of a split second in time. The way in which one frame could tell such an intense and whole story, but still leave the story open to everyone’s interpretation still fascinates me.
I progressed to 35mm film, which trained my eye to take only one shot. Film processing and printing were expensive in those days. I learnt the art as a self-taught photographer, whilst making loads of mistakes. Followed by a course at 19, which I dropped out of after one year, as it stifled any creativity.
At a young age, I also loved to sketch, paint the occasional oil, and inked many drawings. I guess this helped the natural progression to artistic imagery to photography.
Photography is in my DNA and something that I do instinctively – although, each time I go out, I still learn new things.
In 2011, whilst still travelling through Morocco and South America, I built my Nilla’s Photography website and started a FaceBook business page. Then on returning to Australia, I began entering photography competitions and exhibiting. A lot of hard work but all this escalated my photography to the next level as a professional photographer. With thousands of photos from 30+ years of travel on 6 Continents, I struggle to select photos for competitions, exhibitions, websites, or to share on social media.
Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect of a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
I don’t believe that locations and weather conditions are crucial aspects of a successful picture. Whilst important, I think the most crucial aspect is using your eyes, and I don’t think it really matters what photographic equipment you use either.
Many photographers nowadays seem to prefer ‘making’ a photo with software during post-processing, rather than ‘taking’ a photo with their eyes.
You can have the worst weather conditions, which result in the most sombre and moody photo. Weather is unpredictable, so you have to work with what you have to achieve the optimal result.
Tierra Del Fuego National Park – Argentina
What is your favourite subject? Nature, wildlife, objects, portraits?
I love the challenge of Travel Photography, which includes Street and Documentary – both are fast or you miss the moment. For me, these genres portray people in reality as opposed to staged photography, which is easier to shoot, as typically, conditions are controlled.
There are no boundaries or rules with Travel Photography.
As a Travel Photographer, I am drawn to documenting the social conditions of both underdeveloped and developed countries, providing visual evidence of social differences.
Hard Times – Venice, Italy
I love taking candid photos, whether it is a street scene but especially, faces. I see someone’s face and know what the outcome will be in a frame. It sounds kind of weird, but it’s hard to explain.
My portfolio also contains landscapes and the occasional still life shot – I like to experiment and learn.
Manhattan Cube, New York, USA
How important is it for a photographer to “connect” with subjects to bring out their true self?
This is a hard one for me as typically, I take candid photos.
I always struggle with the dilemma of whether to ask permission or not before taking a photo. Occasionally, I’ll take a candid shot first then ask permission. The difference in the two photos can be quite stark.
If you’re passing through a place, it’s difficult to connect for five minutes with a complete stranger enough so that they feel completely comfortable with you taking their photo. Sometimes it works, and other times it doesn’t.
Now and again, people can relax in front of a camera, and their true self is revealed in their eyes and face, but this is more conducive to a studio-style set-up that happens over time.
I find that taking a candid photo creates more of a mystery and although you don’t always see the person’s eyes, this is not always necessary. What do you think?
Hooded Man – Morocco, Candid photo
Burma Smiles – Myanmar (Burma), portrait photo
Who, as in other photographers, have influenced you the most?
I would have to say that greats such as Ansell Adams, Robert Capa, and Henri Cartier-Bresson are my main inspirations. These three artists cover landscape, documentary, and candid photography – my preferred mediums.
Considering the many decades ago that these photographers etched a mark in the world with the available technology during their era, you can’t but help admire their art.
Which one is your favourite lens and why do you prefer it?
As I’m travelling more often than not and for extended periods, I can’t carry a lot of camera gear with me, so I restrict myself to my Nikon D600 Full Frame a 28-300mm lens. I also replace this with a small Compaq camera on harder treks where weight is limited.
I don’t really have a favourite lens, but I do prefer fixed lenses for their superior optical quality and zoom lenses for ease when travelling. A lens also depends on whether I use a 35mm film camera or a digital camera.
A downside to my 28-300mm zoom lens is the lens produces a lot of distortion when taking photos of architecture. This is because of its focal length. The distortion drives me crazy. The upside is that I don’t need to carry several heavy fixed lenses.
I have a couple of 35mm film cameras here in Italy and also several in storage in Australia, which I only use on day trips or when away for several days. The cameras in Italy have a 35-80mm and 28-70mm lenses. Zoom lenses are great for candid work. Back in 2011, I travelled with a digital and film camera and 2 lenses for over 10 months in South America and Morocco. I had to post the film back to Australia for processing and scanning.
Nowadays almost everyone has access to devices with which it is possible to take pictures. What do you think is the difference between a professional photographer and any other hobby photographer?
You can’t beat an eye for photography – but this is only my view, and I’m sure loads of people would disagree, arguing that post-production produces the best photo.
More and more these days, the line is blurred between photography and digital art. And although I love both, the distinction needs to be made to an audience. Passing up digital art as photography is not being honest with your audience. I do minimal post-production (straightening, contrast, dust removal for negatives), so what you see is what I saw.
Opposites Attract – Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Typically, the label of a ‘professional photographer’ is when you start to sell your photos. I’m not sure if this is correct as to sell your photos, you need much more exposure to your work today than during pre-internet days. I think it’s harder these days with the internet as there is so much accessible professional and hobbyist competition out there. This is backed up by the abundance of paid and free photography competitions, something that hardly existed pre-internet days.
Although today’s devices make photography accessible to everyone, I can’t but help feel that the actual art of photography is diminishing.
Do you exhibit your work? If so, where?
I’ve found that exhibiting is the best way to gain exposure but also to sell my work – I should organise more…
My work has also been in a couple of Fundraiser exhibitions in Brisbane where I donated several large canvas photographs, which were auctioned off to raise money.
Waiting – Laos, candid photo
In addition to Group Exhibitions, I’ve had two solo exhibitions: one in Brisbane, Australia and the other in Cerisano, Italy – these are much more stressful and challenging to organise. Although, I do prefer solo exhibitions as I enjoy speaking with people that have questions about my photographs; it’s more personal and a wonderful way to get feedback or different views, whether good or bad. I enjoy listening to people’s interpretation of a photo or to see their first reaction.
If you’d like to see more of my work, then please check out my social media platforms:
Travel blog: https://imageearthtravel.com/