Nina Strategier is an Amsterdam-based photographer and goldsmith. Nina frequently carried a camera with her but did not start thinking about studying photography until she was 17. A self-taught photographer, Nina has an exceptional eye for brilliant composition and style. She is one of very few photographers who skillfully photographs across many genres, including nature, people, travel, and portraiture. She loves to travel and capture interesting portraits and beautiful places around the world. Aside from photography, Nina is also a successful goldsmith. This week, Nina speaks to atlas about her recent travels in India and reveals how she connects with strangers before taking their photographs. (Editor’s Note: We are revisiting one of our favorite posts this week that capture the beauty and essence of people from around the world. Enjoy!)
How did you first become interested in photography?
Nina Strategier: Since I can remember, I often took a simple camera with me wherever I went. When I was about 17 years old, I was thinking about studying photography at art school but they did not accept me. I decided that it would not be a good profession as it is so expensive and really hard to make a living out of it. Over the years I was still taking pictures and getting more and more into it. I actually did not study that much (yet) but just learned by doing. I still have to learn a lot.
Your street images from India are both powerful and compelling. Can you tell us a bit more about these photos? What inspired you to travel there?
I am really into traveling and Asia is always a colorful destination. I had not been to India yet and decided to check it out. It is such a big country with so many people! This time I am only on the road for two months but that is not enough. For good portraits, I try to go out when the light is nice. Mornings and late afternoons are the best moments but I am never searching for something particular. I mostly encounter nice situations coincidentally. I do not know why my compositions come out so good. I am a good observer and I like to watch people. It must be a natural talent, but I do try to stick to the rule of thirds.
What was your experience like photographing people in India? Did you encounter any obstacles or was everyone receptive to having his/her photo taken?
The first time when I am in a new country I always have to ‘come into it.’ With this I mean I need some time to find out how the people are and get over the fear of invading someone’s personal space, especially with portraits. I try to take pictures without asking so I can keep the moment as it was. But if I feel a person is skeptical or insecure, a smile can help a lot. In India most people like to be photographed. It also depends a bit on where you are. In very touristy places people are understandably a bit more negative towards ‘another tourist with a camera.’ In more remote places, most people are more open to be photographed and sometimes even ask for it.
The photography industry is historically male-dominated although more and more women are entering the field. You have found success as a photographer. Do you have any advice on how women can break into the photography?
First of all I think it is not about whether you are a male or a female. It is about your pictures. I am not dependent on my photography as I also work as a goldsmith so I am not experiencing any pressure or inequality. My tip for other women is: do not be afraid to show your work. Use social media. Offer your work to other people starting with your friends. If you are good they will ask you to takes some photos of them. That is how it started to roll with my own work.
You shoot in both color and black & white. Which do you prefer?
I really like black and white. Why exactly I do not know. It gives something extra to a picture.
Are you working on any new projects?
I am planning to travel on the Trans-Siberian Express this summer and hope to shoot some beautiful photos in Mongolia. There is a Fairmined (responsible mined gold) goldmine in Mongolia which I would like to visit for a photo shoot. As a goldsmith, I use Fairmined gold and it would be perfect to combine my photography work with my jewelry work. Currently, however, I am in Nepal photographing the local people.
Thanks for being our featured photographer of the week, Nina!
For more information about Nina, visit her website. All images © Nina Strategier.