Nikki Zakkas is a young up-and-coming photographer from Johannesburg. She studied fashion at Lisof before moving into photography, it isn’t surprising then that her interests lie in ‘fashion portraiture and street style”. Zakkas is one of many photographers focusing her lense on the cities vibrant streetstyle, what sets her apart though and really establishes her as someone-with-something-different to contribute is the softness she brings to a space mostly romanticised for its chaos and intensity.
I spoke to Nikki about her latest project (a collaboration with fashion designer Thebe Magugu) and being a finalist in Elle Magazines annual style reporter competition.
Jamal Nxedlana (JN): How did you come to work with Thebe Magugu on these images?
Nikki Zakkas (NZ): I have been friends with Thebe since our studies at Lisof and so working together at some point seemed inevitable. I am also a big fan of his designs, which I find to be exquisite, culturally progressive, high and yet accessible/wearable.
JN: What was it like being a finalist in the Elle Style Reporter competition ?
NZ: Being a part of the Elle Style Reporter competition was a wonderful experience from start to finish. My favourite part of it was getting to meet the fellow finalists, all of whom were exceptionally talented in telling visual stories. I also appreciated the opportunity to talk to the Elle staff members who I admire so much for the creative work that they do at the magazine.
JN: What mood or feeling were you trying to get across with these images?
NZ: I was inspired by simplicity. I wanted to incorporate a minimalist style in my approach to shooting the collection so as to keep the focus on the model and the garments as opposed to a chaotic background.
JN: When I look at these images I see a softer side of Johannesburg, was this your intention or was this an idea developed specifically for this particular shoot?
NZ: I am very drawn to romantic imagery and so I suppose that this tends to reflect in my style and aesthetic. Most of my images have a sentimental and nostalgic feeling.
JN: Besides you living and mostly working in Johannesburg – what is the relationship between the city and your work?
NZ: As someone who likes to take pictures, I am highly sensitive and reactive to my environment. Given that Johannesburg is the context that I live in, it would be impossible for the city to not inform my photographs to some extent. That and the aesthetics of Johannesburg are truly unique in terms of its urban landscape. I am also constantly inspired by the interesting cross section of people that coexist in this city.
JN: What about shooting fashion interests you in particular?
NZ: I studied fashion and my work experience thus far has been in that industry. I am passionate about fashion and view it as an aspect of art, a visual language and a discourse. I love shooting fashion as it is powerfully expressive; clothing can evoke so many qualities. I also love street style photography for how it can signal a person’s identity through their presentation and style.
JN: What are you plans moving forward, any exciting new projects?
NZ: My plan moving forward is to hopefully travel for a while and practice my eye by shooting as much as possible. I am also interested to start assisting more experienced photographers as I am still young in my photography and would love to refine my work and expand on my technical skill set.
Photography: Nikki Zakkas
Styling and wardrobe: Thebe Magugu
Model: Melissa Orren at Boss Model Manangement
Make-up: Sancia Naidoo