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The Radiant Lenses: Interview with Nikole Ramsay

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Being a household name in Australia’s photography scene doesn’t make Nikole Ramsay lose her radiant down-to-earth personality. Now a prolific travel photographer (plus mom and wife), she took some of her time to walk us through her brilliant mind, sharing stories of career milestones to her love of ocean and holiday bliss. Hellobali got the rare chance to chat with Nikole and discuss some of her most vibrant behind-the-lenses experience, including her latest work of Robinson House Gili Meno and her fondness of Indonesia, especially the charm of Bali that has drawn her back from time to time.

Photo Courtesy of: Nikole Ramsay

The photograph of Nikole Ramsay is a collection of captivating passion. Each one of the image she snaps brings about a crisp, vibrant energy that visibly emanates to its viewers. Yes, it is definitely the cumulative from years of experience, hard work and creative tenacity, but most importantly: love. “I have always loved photography and telling stories with my pictures. I love the way photography connects me to people and places” said Nikole. But then she also remarks that the field she worked in requires a lot of efforts and hard work to strive, as the process towards success is far from easy. “Becoming a professional photographer wasn’t an easy path…but I’m so happy I’ve given everything and made a success out of it!”

But being a professional photographers means that she has to be able to adjust to her clients desire, and Nikole doesn’t have any problem with finding the win-win in every projects she work upon. “If the next project is for a client, it’s important to make sure we are aligned on our vision. It also helps to have similar drive, passion and work ethic” she punctuates. “(But) if it’s a personal project, then it’s got to come from the heart”

Nikole’s last project brought her to experience one of Indonesia’s best tropical getaways in Gili Meno, just off the shore of Lombok, where she was tasked to capture the beauty of Robinson House and its pristine surrounding, and she personally loved every moments of it. “The Robinson House, Gili Meno shoot is what I call a ‘dream job!’” said Nikole, with a genuine joy in her voice. “It combined my love of interiors, design and an opportunity for travel. Gili Meno is a special place; it feels like time is forgotten. The pace of life is slow and you feel in tune with the rhythm of the day. I woke before sunrise most days, to watch the sun come up over the mountains of Lombok, enjoyed breakfasts of delicious fruit, swam, laid about for naps in the hammock and rode on a bike around the island. I was in bed early each night…in tune with when the sun went down”

Her knacks for tropical atmosphere explain her answer when we asked what she would do in life if not being a professional photographer. “Maybe a professional surfer….so I could be in the ocean every day! Please note, I’m not a good surfer at all, I just love being in the ocean!” she added gleefully. With a bright tone on her voice, Nikole further describes her personal experience during her photo-shoot project. “I loved the snorkeling, you can go on the beach in front of the Robinson House or you can take a boat out to the deeper part of the reef where it drops off on a huge deep blue shelf. The turtles come in there and you can swim really close to them. It was amazing!”

“I think it’s the perfect tropical get away if you want to escape from the fast pace of everyday life and just really unwind for a week and get back to basics….eat, sleep, swim, discover, relax….” The conversation then flows pleasantly as we ask Nikole to explain the reason she gets so fond of Indonesia; and Bali in particular. “I only started visiting Indonesia about 4 years ago and have found it to be really magical. It is different to what I expected, as being Australian”

“I had heard a lot about the “typical” Bali holiday. I was surprised to find it was quite magical and so many parts of Indonesia, like Gili Meno and Gili Air, are still relatively undiscovered. I particularly love the Indonesian people, who are so gently, kind and offer wonderful hospitality”

Being a top-level professional photography, Nikole has tried and owned some of the most sophisticated equipment, but she never forget the one that ignite her interest in the world of light- painting. “My first camera was a Minolta X-300 and it had my name engraved down the side of it. It was a gift from my dad, who was a keen amateur photographer. Sadly, I sold it when I was travelling in New York when I was 25. It’s out there somewhere….I would love to find it again and buy it back for nostalgia!”

In the world where everyone can take beautiful pictures with their cellphones, and showcase it on their personal social media page, Nikole has a different, deeper perspective to value each images more than it meets the eye. “To me, the images that stand out most are images that connect with you on a feeling level, rather than a visual level”, and she also sees the rise of picture-based social media like Instagram as an opportunity that can broaden the range of photography. “Instagram has completely changed the face of travel photography in that so many people can self- publish their own journeys and adventures around the globe without the need of a “publisher”. Travel photography used to be more elusive. Remember those exotic, mesmerizing images you would see in National Geographic Magazine? Or luxury accommodation in double page spreads of beautifully researched travel magazines? Now all of that kind of content is available on Instagram and travel blogs worldwide” she analyzed.

A choice of career aside, Nikole also see photographer as her way to connect deeply with all the people around the world, as a grand vessel to surpass every barriers through visual wonders. “With the introduction of digital cameras, photography is so much more popular now and there are so many more photographers than there used to be. I find that people shy away from cameras more these days, so now I keep my camera in my bag before I start conversations and would only ask to shoot someone’s portrait if we have a good connection first”

“When I was younger, my camera was a tool I used to connect with people, places and cultures. In my twenties, one of the first places I travelled was through Mexico and on that journey my camera enabled me to connect with the people up close, it removed a language barrier and gave me a reason to approach people”
Although her work has been considered as one of the best, Nikole admit that she still looks up to other photographers that inspire here to give the best in each and every snap. “I have a number of photographers whose work I love. Jock Sturgess for his incredible portraits and visual studies of communities, Sally Mann for her raw and intimate images of her family, Olive Cotton for her tenderness with light….oh there are so many!” she remarks.

As a photographer who travels a lot across countries and even continent, we are wondering how Nikole can successfully maintain the perfect balance between her work and family, and she said that it will always be a work in progress (she’ll gladly do) “I love being a photographer, but I am also a mum so my family time is important too. I try to keep a good balance by taking on a mix of local work and occasional projects that involve travel. I re-evaluate my work load every 12 months and focus on work that compliments my life at home – it’s always a work in progress to keep the balance right!”

It’s been a pleasant chatting session, and Nikole put the cream on top with her importante message for all aspiring youth who wish to be a full-time photographer. “Focus on shooting what makes you happy, build connections, collaborate and just keep shooting to keep that passion and vision alive! It takes hard work and commitment but it’s all worth it, photography can be a fun and exciting career!”
Notes taken, dear!


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