A Conversation with Nikki Clendinning: Street Photography, Analog Roots, and Embracing the Banal.
This was an enlightening conversation with street photographer Nikki Clendinning. Diving into the depths of her influences, techniques, and views on the art of street and urban photography, we learned valuable insights and tips.
Nikki's Path in Street Photography
Nikki boasts a unique style focused on capturing the banality of everyday life. Her journey in photography started with a Sony cyber shot 5.1-megapixel digital camera, a connection with her father who was a photographer, and a passion for seeing the world through a different lens. Interestingly, her handle on Instagram uses her initials, a deliberate choice to let her work be judged on its merit rather than her identity.
She developed her skills on analog cameras, eventually graduating to a Fujifilm XT 20 for her digital work. This move allowed her to take numerous shots without the expenses associated with developing film. Interestingly, she attributes her love for quick, candid shots to an offhand tip she picked up from the Lomography community: shooting from the hip.
Nikki's Influences and Style
Nikki's work is deeply inspired by two main figures – Vivian Maier and Robert Mapplethorpe. Maier's clandestine but vast collection of street photography from New York and Chicago in the 1950s hugely impressed Nikki. Mapplethorpe's studio-based photography also had a profound influence on her despite the stark contrast in their choice of subjects.
In tune with her influences, Nikki follows a unique approach of 'capturing the every day' – finding beauty in the mundane or the everyday, ordinary subjects that we tend to overlook. Using her camera, she's able to present dull, old buildings, or seemingly normal street scenes in an entirely new and beautiful light.
Finding Inspiration and Shooting Locations
While Nikki finds it exciting to capture new cities, she still appreciates her hometown, Auckland, as a backdrop for her work. Despite being well-trodden territory for her, the city's appeal lies in its ability to continually provide new experiences and perspectives.
She often finds inspiration to shoot in marketplaces. According to Nikki, such places are ideal for budding street photographers as people engrossed in their activities pay little attention to a camera, permitting truly candid shots.
Nikki's Perspective on Her Future in Photography
Nikki sees her future in photography firmly planted in the realm of the hobby rather than becoming a side hustle. She prefers to capture what interests and appeals to her, and she doubts if her style of photography would be something people would want to purchase. However, she has expressed interest in presenting her work in a photography exhibition someday.
Nikki's Tips for Budding Street Photographers
Analog roots are robust roots, according to Nikki. She encourages budding photographers to start with analog cameras to grasp their essential skills before moving to digital platforms. For street photographers, she provides simple yet potent advice – shoot from the hip. This technique allows for quick, unposed, and authentic photos, encapsulating the essence of street photography.
As we concluded our conversation with Nikki, her passion for capturing everyday beauty in the banal and her unique perspective served as a remembrance of the infinite possibilities that exist within the domain of photography.
You can catch her work on Instagram:
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