Endless Expanses and Fascinating Landscapes | An Interview with Julia Nimke

Submitted by Benjamin Arntz on Sun, 01/03/2016 - 11:54
Julia Nimke
Julia Nimke

From the very start, landscape photography has explored the depiction of nature and the human environment. Along with classic portrait photography, it is one of the first and most fundamental genres of professional photography. Pioneers in the field – here it would only be prudent to name greats such as Ansel Adams and Hermann Krone – once placed a lot of value on depicting untouched nature. Nowadays, landscape photographers are tackling inhabited as well as uninhabited environments. Both then and now, mostly working with the natural light means that for the photographers, it often comes down to finding the right moment. This often has more to do with overly produced drama than with the relationship or personal connection to nature. In the age of digital photography and image editing, “natural” colors are rarely found in landscape photos. That’s not the case for Berlin-based photographer Julia Nimke. In our interview, the 25-year-old opened up about what inspires her, her opinion on what matters in the field of photography, and why she cannot imagine a life without photography.

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Image: Julia Nimke

Hello Julia! Please tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you take up photography, and what excites you about it the most? Julia Nimke: My name is Julia, and I live in Berlin, but I like to wander a lot. Here’s the cliché part: I started taking photos very early on and knew from the time I was 12 that I wanted to be a photographer. Back then, I retreated into photography like it was a paradise waiting to be explored. I spent hours in darkrooms, and every time, I stood agape as the image slowly appeared on the once-white paper. Photography gives my life so much direction, that I cannot imagine a life without it. It is my friend, motor, means of expression – and my life.

Some of your specialties include nature and landscape photography. How did you come to place so much emphasis on these themes, and what do you find fascinating about them? I didn’t consciously choose landscape photography. I am more interested in people in nature than in pure landscape photography. Capturing how a person feels in an endless expanse – how the perspective shifts and a person suddenly flows out from their personal space into something bigger.

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Image: Julia Nimke

You often travel for your images. How do you prepare for this, and what do your travels mean to you? I don’t like to spend an eternity preparing. Too much planning eliminates the possibility of adventures that can only arise when you come into unforeseen situations. I like to have a solid outline, but otherwise let myself drift, always following my nose and eyes.

Who or what inspires your work? Where do you get the ideas for your pictures? Everything around me can be a source of inspiration. A moment, a person, a song, a certain atmosphere in which I find myself. Photography is very personal – I guess I would say photographers will find the biggest source of inspiration in themselves – how they perceive things.

Your photographs are different from classic landscapes. What is it that you look for when choosing your subjects in order to make your pictures out of the ordinary? If I find myself in nature taking photos, I simply capture what moves me. Winding lines, how the surfaces arise, and how the light falls. I can’t say what it is that makes my photos atypical. It’s for the audience to determine what they see as special. I simply create without being mired down with the idea of creating something out of the ordinary.

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Image: Julia Nimke

What kind of equipment do you use? When I’m contracting, I shoot digital. In my little camera closet, I have a Canon EOS 5 D Mark III with a prime lens. However, I also like to shoot analog – lately with my Fuji Instax.

Digital photography usually leads to post-processing, and the results often seem a little bit artificial. How much digital image editing do you use? I mainly work with Adobe Lightroom, merely for color correction. Color is a very important means of expression in my work. It significantly influences the atmosphere of the picture.

In your opinion, what is essential to success in the photography business? There isn’t just one factor that guarantees success. In my opinion, it’s a well-balanced network of multiple aspects. You have to be passionate about it. If you’re burning to do something, that’s the best drive. There’s also a bit of luck involved, as well as making contacts and being honest in your work.

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Image: Julia Nimke

Where are you going next, and what are you expecting to find there? Next up is a week in Norway. Eight days of hiking somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Far from civilization and all its infrastructure. Yes – such places do still exist.

Any future book or exhibition plans for your work? For a long time, I’ve been toying with the idea of making a book. Sometime, somehow, something will certainly come of that. For now, there aren’t any exhibitions in the works. Right now, I am working a lot in commercial photography, leaving little time for personal photo projects.