You wouldn’t know it from her wistful photography, but Natalie Nikitovic is a young woman that makes decisions. For instance, one day she decided she was going to be a photographer, and now she is. She decided she would also be a stylist, and now she is. She decided she was going to release a book, and now she has. We can all learn something about determination and resolve from Natalie, and it’s something along the lines of “just get off your ass and do it”.
So for all the dreaminess of the imagery she creates, there’s something very matter of fact about the woman herself, despite her propensity for telling long-winded, impossible sounding stories. She’s a concoction of contradictions that’s hard not to become entirely addicted to. Natalie cloaks the heart of a lion with a soft-edged aura of romance, and a boundless love for the simplicity of every day. We talked to the Australian artist about her deeply personal, quietly intimate photographs and the grace with which they allow us to experience her life with her, sometimes to the point where we feel that we know and love her subjects as recklessly as she does.
Portable: How did you get into photography? And what keeps you coming back to the medium as a means of expressing yourself?
Natalie Nikitovic: The moment I decided this was the direction I wanted to take was when I used to work for a publishing house a few years ago. I took a photo of my friend Andrej at the beach, they used it for one of there online magazines. I remember one of the directors sent me an email telling me that he liked the shot. That literally was the beginning of the end.
P: Your photos convey a sense of quiet affection for the everyday; how does your daily life inform your work?
Natalie Nikitovic: Sometimes when I retell stories to people I like to make them more ‘interesting’ to listen to. A good friend ‘s choice of words is that I like to “extend the truth”. Only sometimes though. When I see something I want to photograph, I only take a portion of a situation or scenario. In my mind I’m making what ever it is more interesting or highlighting something that is usually overlooked or just seen as mundane. During the promotion of this book, one journalist labelled me ‘the moment stealer’. I like that.
P: You have a new book out; tell us all about it!
Natalie Nikitovic: Yes, this is true, I am now a proud owner of a book! This would not have been a possible project with out the help from a few genius humans: Lora Ward (Graphic Designer extrodinare), Linda Nikitovic (most supportive person in my life) and Joe Miranda (Creative Director and Founder of the Independent Photography Festival that just came to a wrap on Sunday!). All I will say about the book is, it’s my life on 48 pages. Nuff said.
P: You visited New York last year; how did the subjects of your work differ from what you’re used to shooting at home?
Natalie Nikitovic: Before I got to New York a friend told me that the first time I get off the Subway I’ll feel like I’ve just stepped onto the set of Seinfeld. My eyeballs were exploding from all of the amazing things I saw. When I got back home to Australia I developed all of my rolls of film, and there was one roll that consisted of 36 shots of different mail boxes. I think this says enough about how I saw my ‘subjects’ in a different city. I think about moments in NYC everyday, and fortunately I got to photograph my favourites. I think documenting our lives has become such an important aspect of this day and age. My mum and dad always tell me stories, but sadly they don’t have physical proof of any of these events. I believe them though, but I will say with their older age, their stories are seemingly more ‘interesting’… Maybe that’s where I get it from?! Hahaha…
P: What other art forms do you indulge in? You do some styling too; how does photography inform this and vise versa?
Natalie Nikitovic: For as long as I can remember I have always used some sort of medium to express slash entertain myself; in high school it was painting and drawing, then playing the trumpet (which failed after four months), then for five years I assisted a Melbourne designer with their collections. Which eventually led me to photographing. Styling has become just as important to my work and the way I see myself develop as a person. I have been working alongside a dear friend of mine, who I may even go so far and say is my mentor, Gen Kay, an absolutely inspirational photographer that has most definitely moulded me into the person I am today. My first styling job was with her, and we have worked closely ever since. We both love untucked shirts and drinking jugs of chai tea.
I think it’s important to be open to different mediums in your life. What I see when I’m photographing is different to what I see when I’m styling an editorial or campaign. I love the aspect of collaborating with people; there is nothing more refreshing than having finished a project and you know it wouldn’t have been possible with out other people’s talent and involvement.