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Nina Papiorek: Elegant & sublime minimal photographic approach

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 24th of October 2022

What runs through all Nina Papiorek's work is a very minimalist approach. She likes tidy, clear images where the eye is led directly to the main subject and is not distracted by anything. As a result, the smallest things, like a single stone in the water, become the star of the photo in a unique elegant and beautiful way.  Nina definitely has her very own style.  Let's discover more about this great lady artist through her answers to my questions.

() (i) – Arnhem, Netherlands


Dear Nina, first I would like to thank you so much for taking the time to answer this questionnaire! To begin, please introduce yourself shortly and tell us more about you, your hobbies or other projects you are involved in?
Dear Yvette, thank you so much for having me here. My name is Nina, born 1979, mother of two.
I am working as a graphic designer and photographer. I am a coffee junkie, a music lover, and I have a certain fondness for design and minimalism. If you ask me about my hobbies, it comes down to exactly one: Photography. 


'Kunstpalast' – Düsseldorf, Germany


When and how did you start your photographic journey?
You will definitely not hear the typical story about my father introducing me to photography as a child ;) To be honest, in my family nobody had ever been interested in this topic or given it a single thought. So it was just up to me to find „my thing“.
I started getting serious about photography about 18 years ago. One morning, I just woke up with the idea. So I bought a camera to take along on a trip, a gift I had given myself after graduating.


You have your own style but your work is pretty diversified. I see architecture photography, street photography and more. Can you explain why this is? What is your photographic vision?
I would say it's a mix of street, cityscape and landscape photography - just what you usually capture on travels. So my first steps in photography still resonate in my work today. Depending on my mood, sometimes one genre gets more space, sometimes the other. For the last two years, however, my focus has clearly been on street photography, which is very line- and shape-based in my world. I like using architectural backgrounds or minimalist patterns, working with leading lines and integrating lonesome people into their urban environment.

What runs through all my photos as a red thread is a very minimalist approach. I like tidy, clear images where my eye is led directly to the main subject and is not distracted by anything. As a result, the smallest things, like a single stone in the water, become the star of the photo, and you recognize their elegance and beauty in a completely different and unique way. Thank you for calling it my „own style, in my eyes that is the biggest compliment for a photographer.

_(######i#######)_ - Copenhagen, Denmark



______Y__ - Wesel, Germany



/// I YYY – Nienhagen, Germany

For many of us photography is either a hobby or a way of life. How would you define your relationship with photography?
It’s a never-ending love story. That sums it up perfectly and needs no further words, I think.


What is more important to you, the mood/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
When I say it's the "story", I'm sure some will laugh out loud, because I don't think there are many photographers who also try to be as precise as I am in terms of the alignment of lines, placement of the protagonist, the person's stride, etc. I really like it when the line ends exactly in the corner, for example. Even though this is not important for the picture effect at all, for me personally it’s the icing on the cake and I am always very fond of details like this.


>>> i ___/  - Antwerp, Belgium

However, it is clear that even a technically imperfect image can convey emotion. Or even make you forget any technical correctness.
Generally speaking, a photo only works for me as a whole, and the more things fit together, the more coherent it becomes as a storyteller and emotion trigger.
A picture that simply offers a boring motif without room for a story will always remain a boring picture, even with technical perfection.

Finding one's place here is the task of every photographer.


'Elegant curves'- Lisbon, Portugal



'Spiral of love' – Berlin, Germany


What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
I like showing my protagonists as silhouettes or as unrecognisable as possible.
often combine two opposing elements, the big "metropolis" and the "loneliness".
I try to express, how lonely and lost people can seem in his urban surroundings - lost in thought or in the sleeping big cities. I have been following this thought for years, but in the time of the pandemic it has solidified due to the external circumstances.


___i_| |||| | || || | - Nienhagen, Germany


ooooo i ooo – Liège, Belgium

On one page my subjects appear completely interchangeable, like one of many. But on the other hand, it is exactly these individuals who tell the story, and I would not want to miss or replace a single one in any way. For me, these little storytellers mean the world in order to realize my photographic idea. They are something special to me and I like observing them from a distance for a longer time even after the shutter has been released, although I never come into contact with them.

Where do you look to find inspiration and what inspires you the most?

I can't say exactly what really inspires me. But as I mentioned before, it's often foreign places and cultures. New territory can be very satisfying and refreshing. Sometimes it's a film scene, a certain look or simply the aesthetic of minimalism, which I find incredible.
But what I've learned over the past few years is that I see a huge danger to my own creativity when I'm constantly looking around on platforms like Instagram to find so-called "inspiration". If I have too many images in my head related to a certain place or a certain point of view, it limits my personal creativity. Sometimes I feel that IG has developed a kind of photo tourism in certain places and some people are only interested in ticking off a certain place on the map.
In my opinion, photography should not be about copying other styles and photos, but about developing your own point of view. As a photographer, you should not only be concerned about the people you are photographing, but also show respect to other photographers. Otherwise the "inspiration" can quickly backfire.

Like probably every photographer, I go through certain creative lows that occur every now and then. Then you start doubting your images, doubting the editing, doubting the subject. In the end, you probably question yourself and your photographic work completely. What helps me to find my way back to creativity is to simply keep calm, put the camera away for a few weeks and occupy myself with completely different things.

Sometimes it is a single moment or a small leap of thought a few weeks later that reignites the fire and, above all, the desire to photograph. Then the inspiration bubbles out of me again as if by itself. For me, it's a kind of "free your mind" thing. But it's a learning process to keep calm in such situations that has taken me years to not fall from one low point into self-doubt to the next, even lower point. I have learned to accept and deal with a certain period of uncreativity in order to become ready and receptive for new creativity.
Okay, that sounds very poetic ;)


##Y#i# – Lisbon, Portugal

Many are of the opinion that the gear is not very important when the passion for photography is strong. However, can you please share with us what gear you use (camera, lenses, lighting, tripod, etc.)?

With today's technology, the manufacturer is certainly not the deciding factor.
Nevertheless, I am a total Canon fan, as I have been taking pictures with this brand since my early days. I like everything about it, from the form of the body to the sound of the shutter... I know my technique, I know how it reacts in different light, I know which of my lenses serves me best in a situation and I can operate everything blindly while half asleep ;) 
In my eyes, this is the greater success factor, especially in street photography, where things sometimes have to happen very quickly due to the situation.

My equipment is not the most up-to-date. I am not at all a fan of "newer, bigger, better" and consider it partly overrated, a waste of money and not very sustainable. On the other hand, I can understand how much you can fall in love with a new "toy" at first sight, which is always a bit better than the previous one.

I currently shoot with a mirrorless full frame, the Canon R, and adapt various Canon EF lenses from 14-200 mm. I am probably a very "unusual" street photographer in the eyes of most in my choice of lenses, away from all the usual paradigms, as I actually use mostly zooms.

I see my equipment first and foremost as my tool - and a prime lens often doesn't help me. I always have the wrong lens on the body and could get more out of a situation. If I have to walk to get the composition I want, the situation I've seen is long gone and the photo opportunity lost. Personally, I get on much better with zoom lenses, I feel free with them. But that's how everyone finds their own way over time. There is probably nothing more debatable than equipment.


| i \\\\\ - Liège, Belgium


What would be your favourite photo? Please tell us the story behind.
There are actually two.
The first is objectively probably not the best photo the world has ever seen, but I love it for a completely different reason.
After the birth of my eldest daughter, I had to take a long break for health reasons. What was previously unimaginable to me turned out to be the beginning of a long photographic abstinence of about 7 years... No thought was "wasted" on photography - I actually delayed with other things that completely absorbed me during that time.
One day, my husband mentioned in an offhand sentence that I might as well sell my camera. That one sentence changed everything, a small spark that reignited the passionate fire from nowhere.

Less than 48 hours later, I drove to a spot I knew well and took my first photo in 7 years. Everything was like before. I composed my picture as a matter of course, I knew every button, I waited for the right protagonists. I can't understand how I could voluntarily and consciously do without my camera for so long and this photo therefore stands for my new beginning. Therefore it has has a special meaning to me.


'Under my umbrella' – Düsseldorf, Germany


The second picture is a photo from my home area, taken during the Corona pandemic. School was closed, contact restrictions pushed my family and me to our limits, my photographic creativity was at a low in pandemic times.
And so, in
deep snowfall, I grabbed my two girls and we drove to a large lake with a long impressive row of trees swinging over its banks.


'Baldeneysee' – Essen, Germany


The resulting photo may look posed at first glance, but it's actually a completely spontaneous situation. My children had incredible fun in nature without the feeling of being confined. They are holding hands on the photo, because they were afraid of slipping on the icy ground and landing in the lake finally. I watched the scene from afar and was touched that they were able to forget the stress of homeschooling so quickly and enjoy snow so light-heartedly in their childlike care freeness. It is self-explanatory that I love this picture.


Who are your favourite photographers or mentors whose works have influenced you and your photography?
I feel deeply touched by a lot of photographers from different genres. There is Fan Ho, of course, whose lines, shapes and minimalist style have always picked me up. Then there is Elliot Erwitt, who must have had an incredible sense of humour that is reflected in his images.
And there is the Austrian photographer Josef Hoflehner, whose long exposures I encountered again and again in my early days. He had a great influence on my style at this time.
Unfortunately, I never had the benefit of a real mentor, and I'm still looking for one today :)
However, in the course of your photography "career", you always meet old and new companions, who can broaden your horizons in inspiring conversations and exchanges about things. I am very grateful for these companions, with some of whom I have developed really deep friendships over the years.


Now, since we have almost reached the end of this interview, I would kindly ask you to share with us your plans or photographic projects you would like to be involved in.
I've never been a fan of long-term plans, this is like New Year's resolutions for me, which I never stick to anyway. I'm more of the quick sort. Thought up, quick collection of ideas, implementation.
Since I
mostly photograph alone without a companion, this is the right way for me and I can react spontaneously without making plans in advance.
Nevertheless, an idea has been maturing in the back of my mind for years. I would like to publish my own illustrated book someday. So it is more a wish than a concrete project.
An overarching project that is very close to my heart is "Soul of Street", an international magazine for street photography that I work on in my spare time. We are a team of five, none of whom had any experience in editorial work or magazine design, but it is incredibly fun and grows out of pure love for street photography.

Thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview, I really appreciate it. It is a great honour for me to be considered by 1x.


((( i ))) - Antwerp, Belgium



|||||||| i |||||||||||| - Wiesbaden, Germany


\\==__/i/_ - Porto, Portugal



###i#### - Paris, France


My website 
My IF profile


Many thanks for your fine collaboration, your interesting and enriching answers and last but not least, for publishing your beautiful and strong work on our site, dear Nina. 

I just came across your photography Nina and I absolutely love it. So much of what you say also fits in with my photography although I do a wide variety.
After reading carefully, feel inspired! Excellent interview and excellent collection of the beautiful and artistic images! Learning!
That puts a really big smile on my face :) Thank you!!!
Stunning gallery! So much purity and poetry!
Big honor, thank you Ludmila :)
Fantastic work and interview. We share similar styles of street photography.
Huge thanks Martin :)
Fabulous inspirational work !!!!
I am blushing :) Thank you Colin!!!
Great, I love your pics. My compliments Nina
Many thanks Roberto!
Love your work and you❤️❤️❤️
Aaawwwww :) I can only give that back unreservedly ❤️
spannender Artikel über eine bemerkenswerte Fotografin, dazu eine sehr schöne Bildauswahl. Gratuliere Nina. Many thanks as always to Yvette
Ganz lieben Dank Hans-Wolfgang, da werd ich ja rot ;)
Very beautiful ,serene and peaceful images Nina, congratulations
Thanks a lot Anita!
Very beautiful inspirational photography and story, thank you very much Nina, and thank you too Yvette I appreciate your effort!
Heartfelt thanks Wayne!
Love your photography, it's amazing! Congratulations
Too kind, thank you Thomas!
Kompliment Nina. Immer wieder tauche in dein Portfolio ein, das gibt es so viel zu entdecken...
Allerliebsten Dank Adam!!!
Great interview, just love your work. Congrats!
Thanks a lot, Patrick :)
nebula PRO
Deep tranquility. This is what am feeling, when i take a look at this amazing portfolio. Exceptional is the keyword. My compliments.
Thanks so much for your words !
So good interview!
I have really made an effort ;) Thank you Jorge!!!
Una intervista nella quale mi rispecchio. Complimenti per i tuoi super lavori
Many thanks Francesca!!!
Enriched, Thanks Nina
All my thanks Pinu!
congratulations dear Nina. Very worth reading :-)
Ich danke Dir, Renate !
Complimenti Nina.
Thank you dear Massimo!