Girls in the Morning

Nikki Van de Poel a 28-year-old Utrecht based film photographer currently living in a tiny, cozy apartment with her talented husband and their cats Yoko & Zuzu. Nikki fell in love with analog photography a couple of years ago, and about a year ago she started working as a full-time photographer and she absolutely loves it. Natural light is a really important element in her work, Nikki loves playing with it to get the perfect shot. She loves shooting outside, surrounded by nature (autumn colours & winter light are her favourites). Nikki gets a lot of inspiration from the seventies; the clothing, the music, the colours. She tries to capture this vibe in her pictures.

How did the idea for the series come about?

Last year was filled with lots of sleepovers. My husband was on tour quite a lot, so I spent some nights at my friends‘ places. I started noticing how much of a difference there was between the morning rituals of all my friends. It inspired me to start my ongoing ‚Morning Rituals‘ series in which I follow girls around with my analog camera while they get ready for their day.

How do you approach these intimate shoots?

Since this is a personal project, I love to get to know the girls I’m working with. Before every shoot I have a little chat with them in which they tell me a bit about themselves and their morning rituals. I want to portray them as pure as possible, so I just let them get ready for their day and let them do what they usually do when I’m not around. During the shoot you’ll find me standing on chairs, laying on the floor etc to get the right angle hihi. The only time I tell them what to do is if the spot they’re standing in is too dark, but the rest of the shoot I’d just let them do their thing.

Can we photograph the female body differently in a more powerful way?

Yes, I definitely think we can. I love portraying women the way they are, no photoshop, no layers of make up, just their natural, beautiful self. I love the diversity of all the different women I work with. Through my work I try to create a pure and real reflection of that person and show that everybody is beautiful in their own way.

What inspires you?

Oh, I get inspired by a lot of things, I recently started going for a half hour/hour walk every day before work to clear my head. I discover so many new things along the way, crooked windows with cute old curtains, beautiful doors I never noticed before, sunbeams collaborating with shadows to create beautiful patterns on the floor, etc. If you just walk and take in the surroundings, you’ll see what you’re missing when you’re always in a hurry rushing through the streets. So much beauty to discover.

How would you define beauty?

I think beauty is not just something physical, it’s much deeper than that. Beauty is seeing someone’s personality shining through.

Film or digital?

Film, always film. I learned how to shoot on film, because I absolutely loved the mood it gives in the images. I also love the fact that you only get a few chances per film to create the images you had in mind. It keeps you really focused on what you want to tell with your pictures. Despite knowing your camera in and out it’s always a surprise how the pictures turn out, waiting for the film to get developed is always exciting.

What makes you happy?

My husband and our two cats, spending time with friends who bring positive energy to my life, going on adventures/traveling (Scotland and the USA this year!), music, old people in love, the first sunbeams after a long, cold winter, the calming sound of the sea. Oh and alpacas, definitely alpacas.

What’s next for you?

I’m going to continue this series and I’m currently working on making it a traveling exhibition! Aside from this project my husband and I are in a preparation stage for the book we’re going to make together later this year (it will be released in 2018). So lots of exciting things are happening, loving 2017 already.