Dutch photographer and dreamer Nikki Van de Poel loves to find magic and beauty in daily life, especially from herself and the people around her. Mostly shot on film and under natural light, her portrait style is modernesque yet the compositions are similar to the softness of Pictorialism, thanks to her knack for a mute and earthy palette. There's an on-going 70s vibe to her overall composition as well, as she prefers the elements of her image to be more raw and organic.
Hi Nikki, welcome to Lomography Magazine! Firstly, what got you hooked on film photography?
Hello! Ever since I was little I was interested in film photography, in my teen years me and my friends always brought our disposable cameras with us. Bringing it to the shop and waiting for that moment the pictures got developed and you could finally see what you photographed was the best. About three years ago I found my photography spark again. I was running my own fashion label and it just didn't make me happy anymore, I started trying to do new things, Making jewelry and drawing, but it didn't feel right. Then one day I picked up my camera again and it was the best decision I've ever made.
I started shooting film daily and it brought me so much joy, really being in the moment and capturing it with my camera. The moment of waiting for your film to get developed still feels as exciting as it used to feel in my teen years. I love finding magic in everyday life — the way the sun slowly lights up the endless mountain views in the morning, the way the rain makes everything sparkle, the wind making it look like all the leaves are doing a little dance. Taking pictures is like creating my own little dream world.
You have an overarching theme of having your subjects portrayed 'bare', especially in portraiture. What's the most important element to consider when shooting portraits?
Portrait photography to me is capturing someone's true self. Let a little bit of their personality shine through — in order to achieve this you have to make the people feel at ease when you're taking their picture. It's a challenge, but a really fun one, ’cause when it works, you'll get some awesome portraits in return. That twinkle in their eye for example really lifts the portrait to a whole new level.
That's awesome, Nikki. Being in front of and behind the camera are two different roles. What urged you to be the subject of your very own camera as well?
I started taking them when I wasn't feeling comfortable in my own skin. It's my own way of dealing with my insecurities, I photographed them and it made me look at my body in an entirely different way. I was focused on making a beautiful picture, choosing the best light and creating shapes instead of looking at all the flaws I usually see.
We love that in your Instagram handle it says “photographer for the lovers and the dreamers”. May you share to us more about this?
In my little place on the world wide web, I like to create a dreamworld through my pictures, a place where you can dream away for a while. Filled with tiny treasures, playing with sunlight to create beautiful shapes, love, I capture the things that put a smile on my face and I hope it makes everyone that sees my work feel touched by it too.
Do you have some favorite portraitists or artists you draw influence from?
I absolutely love the photography work of Sarah Eiseman, she creates a dreamy magical vibe and all of her pictures tell their own story. Nirrimi Firebrace is also a big inspiration for me, especially her writing. Her stories are so beautifully written, full of emotion.
Moving on from photography, what are you up to on days when you’re not working with your camera?
When I'm not with my camera (which happens rarely, oops) I'm probably thrift store/vintage shopping, visiting a museum, going to the movies (big source of inspiration for my work) and I also love carspotting — cycling/driving around to find some awesome vintage rides.
What's next for you, Nikki?
I'm currently working on my 'Morning Rituals' series again. I started this series last year when my husband was on tour a lot. I spent some nights at friends' places and started to notice how different all of their morning rituals were. So I decided to capture them and turn them into an ongoing series. My husband will be away for two months from next week on so I'm planning some sleepovers already which means I can shoot some more morning rituals as well. It's so much fun to see the difference between them. They will be published in an online magazine I'm creating, so I’m really excited about that!