Visual Story Teller

Despite her young age, the model-cum-photographer is climbing higher with her artworks that communicate the timeless beauty of her luscious style.

In the realm of fashion photography, Nicoline Patricia Malina is one of the very few born to create distinctive photographic artworks. With an artsy flair, she infuses raw and cinematic black and white into her unique aesthetic of photography that features rich colours and impeccable sense of details.

Still 27, but the Surabaya born photographer has earned several prestigious awards with her works graced in esteemed magazines in such countries as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, China and Indonesia. She has also participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions. The most recent one was “A Glimpse at Photo Vogue: 101 Photographers/101 Pictures”, which took place in Italy on 20 July – 10 August this year.

Her interest in photography dates back to the time when she was living in Amsterdam during 2002-2008. After embarking on a two-year modelling career, Nicoline in 2006 started her fashion photography business providing services to a number of clients in Amsterdam, Paris and Antwerp. The following year, she received her first award of the Iconique Societás Excellence in Fashion Photography.

Upon her return to Indonesia in 2008, Nicoline became an associate photographer at The Looop, which is run by renowned photographer Sam Nugroho. Now that she strikes out on her own, she has since last year opened her eponymous photography studio, Nicoline Patricia

Malina (NPM). Aside from having a number of life style magazines listed as clients, NPM has delivered services to business entities such as Coca Cola, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Senayan City, Immigrant, JJ Royal Coffee, and more.

In her studio in a South Jakarta’s strategic area, the soft-spoken yet outgoing Nicoline shared with JJK what set her in the journey of photography.

What is the essence of fashion photography in your own dictionary?

A fashion photograph should have the transcultural combination of the model and the setting to create beautiful composition. As fashion photography is about capturing the beauty and elegance, the use of colours is also important to create a good fashion photo. Yet, I personally like black-and-white photography.

veronika06Why do you favour black-and-white photography over colour?

Because the blend of the colours communicate a sense of timelessness. Black and white are the colours that feature the natural beauty of photograph. And natural beauty is what lies behind timeless quality. A black-and-white picture tells a simpler story with sharper focus. One example is my series of “HotelHotel”, shot in Amsterdam, Paris and Shanghai. The aesthetic of the black-and-white photos in this series lies in the sensual appeal of more focused object of female models smoking cigarette.

harpersbazaarhk06bI have seen that many of your works are colour photograph.

Yup. I have created many pieces of colour photograph. It really depends on the narrative choice of a photo. My shot for Harper’s Bazaar Indonesia, “Lust for Love”, features a set of images in full of colours unfolding a romantic story. The many colours in this set represent the vibrancy of touching and emotional images.

It sounds that creating a photograph is just like making a story telling.

Photography is an art of visual story telling. A good photograph always tells a story.

What makes a photo tell a story?

Good composition is a key element to create good picture, though others in consideration should include colours and photo story idea.

hotel02You were once a model in Amsterdam. What made you decide to embark on a career change?

I’m really into creating something, especially that with artistic value. Definitely it’s what the photography all about, creating new thing, but not with modelling.

I like the world of fashion, so I was enjoying being a model posing for catalogues during 2003–2004. Interestingly, the modelling career was what inspired me to get into fashion photography.

How did modelling help you become a photographer?

Being a model did not really help me in terms of enhancing my shooting style. However, my modelling career allowed me to meet more photographers whom I could learn from. As I was developing my interest in photography, I started annoying them with a lot of questions. Later in early 2004, I decided to get my first camera, Canon 300D Digital SLR. The easy-to-use features in this semi-pro camera allowed me to enhance my photography skills, especially in still life and street photography. But Nikon F2, which I bought a year later, left me with a better impression.

pf-olgajtlh03 copyWhat impressed you about the camera?

This professional level Nikon F2 is a film camera, meaning it can produce better result of black-and-white photos than digital camera. You know I’m a great admirer of black-and-white photography. (grin)

Is that the one your holding your favourite camera?

Yup. It’s my favourite. This Sony Alpha 900 produces detailed images with amazing colours.

Did you ever study photography at a formal school before embarking on a professional career?

I never formally studied photography. The only class I took was an introduction to photography short course in my first year of studying Fine Arts at Utrecht School of Arts. As a matter of fact, I didn’t finish my academic study. Much of my knowledge and the skills that I have honed are the fruits of my street education and my autodidact. My inspirations often come from interacting with people and surroundings, as well as the flicks on the silver screen. (smile)

007Are you a movie buff?

Not really, but I like to watch almost all types of movies.

What are your other hobbies?

I love travel…hmmmm….and sleep…but I don’t have too much time for it. (laugh)

What are your favourite travel destinations?

Shanghai is on the top list. Indeed, I travel to Shanghai a lot as I have my family and relatives there. My international representative, BNA, is also in Shanghai. The city is another face of European with the Asian feel. I admire the city’s old French buildings, suburban areas, as well as traditional palaces and temples. I like taking pictures of the city’s street corners and dark alleys. As for the fashion, I adore Tokyo more. The way the people dress up in Tokyo amazes me. They can wear about anything, yet they can uniquely carry themselves with high confidence. I was in Tiber for a week shooting, and suddenly fell in love with the place. The nature is colourful. The lake is green and the sky is very blue, and Tibetans like to decorate their houses with colourful black and red. I’m definitely looking forward to going back there.

immi05As for Indonesia, I really like Jogja for the temples, the markets and the people. Belitung Island is the country’s another beauty for the island’s pristine beaches and amazing ocean. I especially like Tomohon near Manado for its beautiful landscape, cool weather and the food is yummy. (chuckle)

What are your favourite cuisines?

I like most Asian food, from Chinese and Japanese to Indian dishes. I’m not into European and western food because they put a lot of meats on the dish. I don’t eat meat.

Let’s talk a bit about fashion. What brands do you like the most?

Comme des Garçons. The brand fits perfectly for both men and women. I wear Topshop. You can find very basic things out the collections. The design of Yohji Yamamoto is something else, very structural, very Japanese…and uniquely sexy! (smile)

To conclude this interview, can you share with readers the recipe to become a good photographer?

Don’t think too much. When you think too much, you will tend to worry with things. Just shoot it!

Text: Aulia R. Sungkar. Photos courtesy of Nicoline Patricia Malina. Published in Jakarta Java Kini, Sept 2012. 

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