TRUE VISION: Conversation with Photographer Nikka Lorak
To label Nikka Lorak as just a “female photographer” would be doing her an injustice. This jet-setting photographer has immortalized personalities from the worlds of music, entertainment, fashion and philanthropy.
With the speed and bustle of today’s world, photography has never been more important, and to succeed in such an important field, you need to be exceptional.
Some would say that Nikka Lorak is exceptional. The internationally published fashion photographer and educator is known as a visual creator who brings product branding into a visual dimension. Whether the client is a fashion brand, a private individual or a magazine editor, Lorak, with her background in filmmaking, reveals the brand’s message through images and film.
Raised in Egypt, Lorak discovered cultural and social differences very early in her life. Her father, a Belgian diplomat, was commissioned to Egypt and her mother, a Russian painter followed him to the country of pharaohs.
She had a healthy, cheery childhood of endless beaches, climbing trees and attending an international school. As a teenager, her father sat her down and explained how lucky she was to be born into a privileged family and that such a fortunate social status implies responsibilities that inevitably come with it. She learned how important it is to give back to society. Working for Club Med in her early 20s, Nikka always insisted that the members of her team had to be paid equally, regardless of their origin.
Being trained in both disciplines, filmmaking and business development, Lorak recognizes the equal importance of the business side as well as an imaginative side in the life of an artist.
“I’m eternally grateful to my mother who had introduced me to the world of creativity and arts from the very young age both by sending me to an art school and mentoring me through my whole life,” Lorak explained.
After graduating from the film and TV directing master’s program in Westminster University London, Lorak has directed and produced films, including the short film “The Outsider,” which won an award in Cannes. After being numerously approached for advice on the practical side of the creativity, Lorak founded “On Set Experience,” a unique educational journey for aspiring fashion photographers that takes place in the most exciting world’s destinations.
Lorak creates visual concepts and captures still and motion pictures across the globe. The list of Lorak’s shooting locations circles the globe, including cities like Havana, Mombasa, Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Berlin.
Lorak describes her photography as “diverse,” explaining that she aims to create a different style for each collaboration. She says she is currently drawn to “colorful visuals that embrace exotic tribal costume and totally different, grungy black and whites that route back to the rebellious era of ‘80s-‘90s.
“What makes a powerful image is the confluence of several key elements, such as composition, design, and emotion, in a pristine moment that reveals a deeper truth,” she says.
As Lorak continues her career in fashion photography, she credits her previous mentors and inspirations for paving her way through the photography world.
“I was taught the craft from Oleg Tityaev, a brilliant NYC photographer who became my mentor,” Lorak says. “Later, I met university professor Barry Vince who worked as Stanley Kubrick’s film editor. He taught me how to work from the bigger picture towards the details and once being precise working on details, never lose the concept of the bigger picture.
“I was a huge fan of Mario Testino when I was younger. His love to life that bursts through his images and vivid colors had inspired lots of my projects. Now I’m fascinated by dreamy images of [photographer] Paolo Roversi and looking up to [photographer] Patrick Demarchelier for mature and elegant style.”
Of course, with the growing popularity of social media and the accessibility of the Internet, the fashion photographer has morphed. Lorak says, “Fast fashion and social media have created the perfect storm.” According to her, consumers are absorbing fashion and images faster than ever, creating a shorter lifespan for images.
“Our attention span has become the duration of time it takes to click,” Lorak says. “With that in mind, brands need images done quickly and do not need the same length of use they once did.”
“Therefore, they are willing to sacrifice production value in order to stay within their budgets, which have been spread more thinly. It is really driving down the rates and the creativity. But I have seen video start to really take off, so hopefully, that will become a way to re-direct the creativity and budgets.”
Unlike other photographers, Lorak refuses to sacrifice production. In her next photography project called “Drugs, Sex, Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Lorak collaborates with internationally acclaimed entertainers.
“I seldom have a plan, and I feel that the times that have been the most fun and productive have been those where I literally just get up and wander around, looking for situations and subjects to shoot,” Lorak says. “It’s amazing how things just magically happen and pictures reveal themselves.”