Feeding It. // Interview with Nim Dw

"My name's Nim, I've been taking photos for a few years now, I have lived in Brisbane, Byron Bay and Melbourne and at first I found it really difficult to settle on my own "style".  I guess I just take photos of the things that interest me, some are candids and others are posed or set up "shoots".  When I was little I used to create super detailed fantasy worlds with their own governments and mythologies, I enjoyed it because it was often a kind of absurd take on the "everyday".  My photos are my current way of expressing that interest in the absurd, I like to explore the border between the normal and the strange or grotesque or unnerving or whatever you choose to call it.  The idea that our world is so much creepier and weirder than we give it credit for. 

There used to be defined stories behind my art or writing, I invented weird frog-headed gods that fictional people worshipped and giant fish whose sperm was as valuable as gold, and men who travel on the backs of gazelles, I made up fictional diseases and cities and cults and stuff, I've got whole books on it.  It has become more abstract now, I don't feel a need to express the specific details of the fantasies I try to create, more just the moods.  I don't really mind what story (If any) someone gets from my photos, I would much rather they are left with a vague feeling, or just the memory of the image.   I think letting people's imaginations do the work is way more powerful, and personal."

Hey Nim, how’re you going in these strange times? Has COVID affected your ability to shoot much?

I have found Covid surprisingly okay!  I'm usually Melbourne based but I have been lucky enough to stay in the Byron Bay area for most of lockdown which has definitely made things easier.  Covid put a solid damper on my ability to shoot while in Melbourne, I'm a (hopeful) director and it has been pretty impossible to run a film set which is a real shame.  Photography has been a real release for me during lockdown, I have been able to take lots of more candid/not-on-set photos which I have really enjoyed.  I'm beyond excited to develop the current roll in my camera!

As you’ve been in the game for a few years now, what was it that initially sparked your interest/got you into photography as a medium?

I have been doing visual art for a lot longer than I have been taking photos!  And I also write/direct movies.  I initially started shooting in order to design images for my films, I often have these really specific ideas of how I want things to look and I can't really draw them out, so I decided to take photos for reference.  I picked up my first Film Camera (Praktica TL3) for 20$ at an op-shop and just loved the medium so kept taking pictures.  It's definitely the combo of an intense love for film and for fantasy/fantastical art that got me started.

Although you’ve said you don’t have a defined photographic ‘style’, your images seem to have a very cohesive mood through their overall colour palette and lighting, linking your portfolio of photos in a very visually pleasing way. Do you set out to accomplish this deliberately? If so, what’s your process in doing this?

Ah yea, I guess when I say I don't have a style I mean that I don't really mind what I am shooting.  Any model is cool (I mostly just shoot my friends) and any style of outfit/location is cool.  They are all taken on the same camera so that definitely helps them fit together!  Because a lot of the images are directly or indirectly inspired by the films I write/direct they carry a similar aesthetic.  I write a lot of magical realism or "weird fiction" where I enjoy kinda playing on the borderline of what's normal and/or fantastical.  So naturally the images have the same kinda genre.  I am also currently and somewhat regrettably very fixated on the macabre, I can't seem to stop writing weird, pseudo-psychedelic, borderline-cosmic, semi-cerebral horror, so a lot of my photos are direct scenes from those stories. 

The image of the man in the long grass with the legs coming in from the left was inspired by the poster for Parasite by Bong Joon-ho.  The Girl with the butterflies on her face is a still from a dream sequence in a film i'm writing (she's meant to be dead and the butterflies are eating her by I decided to go with warm lighting for the shoot cause I felt like taking some more up-beat looking stuff at the time).  The two goths with the body bag were actually from a shoot for a band (@filthwizard) and the pictures of the blood-covered boy screaming in the shower are candids of my roommate after a cooking accident. Thanks for saying they're visually pleasing I really appreciate it !

Do you have a preferred medium to shoot? (e.g 35mm, medium format, polaroid, digital) Definitely 35mm. I shoot some digital on my Canon but I much prefer film.  There's this kinda other-worldly nature you get from the images that just doesn't happen with digital.  I like that they're less crisp.  I also like having to think about the photos I am taking more. I get too trigger happy with my digital cameras and end up with mediocre shit.

It's always interesting seeing how a person's influences affect the work they create - what would you say are your biggest creative influences/inspirations? Man so many people!  Roald Dahl's short horror stories are a huge thematic inspiration!  Directors like Danny Boyle, Bong Joon-ho, Denis Villeneuve, Céline Sciamma and Ridley Scott.  Authors like Tolkein, George Martin, Irvine Welsh, H.P Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe and Frank Herbert.  Photographers like Jeremy Snell, Brent McKeever and Matthew Thorne.  I love drawing inspiration from literary sources as well as visual ones, there is an awesome challenge in translating the verbal to the visual.

And lastly, what's next for your photography? Any new projects coming up or goals you’re working towards?

Lots of stuff!  I have got into a couple of mags (like this one!) and a few of my pictures are getting physical print copies in an American Mag which is super cool!  I'm doing a few shoots for businesses too.  Personally I am super keen to start working with larger groups and more public locations now that Covid (and Dan) are relaxing their choke-hold on Melbourne.  I want to stray more towards the extreme with my photography, brighter colours and weirder set pieces for sure.  I have a few shoots scheduled for the next couple of weeks that I am beyond keen for (One features another body-bag and another one is cannibal themed).  I'm only really getting started photography wise and I am just so excited to learn and shoot and grow.  I'm lucky enough to have loads of wonderful and stunning friends and acquaintances who are keen for me to put them in weird positions, cover them in fake blood, strip their clothes off, and stick butterflies to their faces which is awesome!  Growing my platform and and interacting with other photographers and artists has meant I have access to even more MUAs, Models, Stylists and equipment which I am so thankful for!  The short of it is:  Yes, lots of new projects with lots of awesome creatives, I couldn't be more keen!

IG//@nimdw

Interviewed by Ivy Rose