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five minutes with photographer nikki lake

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Nikki Lake's photos will feel strangely familiar to any Melbourne local. It's not because they feature touristy landmarks (there's nary a cafe, tram or laneway to be found in her snaps), but because Nikki has a knack for capturing the small and lovely details of inner-suburban life. If you ever see someone staring intently at a flowering tree in your front yard, that might just be her. 

Hi Nikki, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m trained as a graphic designer and work as an advisor in wayfinding design. Essentially this involves planning and designing information, signage and customer experiences for the built environment. Photography is also a big part of my life. It’s more of a passion project, but I do a bit of freelance work here and there.

When did you first pick up a camera and start shooting? I remember taking lots of photos on disposable cameras as a kid, but I think it was at university when I started to develop more of a serious interest in photography and experimented with different cameras.How did you learn your way around a camera? I did a little bit of formal study. I studied filmmaking at university and took a photography class as part of my degree. This was a while back now. At the time, my film school was still in this transition period where digital was emerging as the more prominent medium, so you could still choose to either use a digital or analogue camera for all of your assessments. I remember finding an old Minolta SLR at my parent’s house and I guess this was how my love for analogue began.

What kind of subjects usually catch your eye? I’m really drawn to colour combinations and detail. I like to photograph patterns and textures that stick out to me in otherwise ordinary scenes. I also love a good interior with popping colours.
When taking photos, do you have a controlled set-up or are you more spontaneous? Definitely more spontaneous. I think my style works best when the set-up is more natural and candid.

Tell us about a funny moment that has ensued during one of your photos. I take a lot of photos while walking my dog around my neighbourhood. I’m really drawn to manicured trees in front yards, but most of the time I don’t notice if people are present because I’m so caught up in the scene. I’ve definitely been caught photographing trees in front of windows, and at the last moment realised there’s someone staring back at me. One time a lady started yelling at me from a window and I was so shocked because I couldn’t actually see her. I was talking back to an invisible person trying to explain that I was photographing the trees, ready to whip out my Instagram account to show her as proof. It was fine in the end, but I felt horrible at the time.How do your photos reflect you as a person? I think my photos mostly reflect my considered nature. 

Why do you choose to shoot analogue? I love the aesthetic, but also how shooting film is such a considered and unpredictable process at the same time. You never completely know what you’re going to get back, and the imperfections are often the most rewarding part.Who are your favourite photographers? I have so many, but some of my favourites are Lina Scheynius, Nan Goldin, Maisie Cousins, Jasmine Deporta, Pia Riverola, Polly Borland and Nobuyoshi Araki.

What do you enjoy doing when not taking photos? I read a lot of books. I love going on long walks with my dog and boyfriend. And I love wine.

Where can we see more of your work? Over at my instagram @ladylake