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Nikki Toole

In their own words

Recorded 2017

Nikki Toole
Audio: 2 minutes

The way I approach a subject and the reason my images, I think, look like they do in terms of lighting, depth of field, facial expression is because I come from that cinema background. I like photography but I’m not as interested in it as I’m in – like if you asked my favourite people they’d all be directors. And when I had to think like, how am I going to photograph Rosie, I wanted it to be really natural and I always go back to cinema.

With Rosie I was thinking of these Italian, ‘fifties, quite strong women. ‘Cos after reading her book, I thought, ‘This is like one of the strongest people that I’m ever going to meet’, ‘cos she’s incredible. And I just thought I want her to look really strong, like she’s owning her own, you know, self and her own power. It seems really in-depth for what’s a very simple photograph, but in my head, I saw that kind of Charlotte Rampling strong type of woman and having a photograph and I just wanted it to strip down and be really simple.

And when she got here, her eyes were incredible, ‘cos she always wears glasses and I hadn’t really noticed she has these really, like, crystal blue eyes – just so blue. I just said to her when she sat down, I said, ‘Oh How about we try without the glasses?’ And I think she said, ‘Oh, that’s how people kind of recognise me.’ And I said, ‘Well let’s just try without because your eyes are incredible, why would we not take advantage of it.’ And we didn’t do any shots with the glasses at all because I just thought she just looked amazing. And she had this kind of power, even though she was quite relaxed.

There was no conscious decision, I didn’t want to make her look vulnerable or exploit the situation, I just wanted her to be herself, because she’s strong and she’s funny. She’s so light-hearted. I wanted that side of her to come through but just in a really naturalistic way. And Rosie had such a good energy when she sat down and I think you can see that, you know, she kind of exudes it when you meet her.

Acknowledgements

This recording was made during interviews for the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Stories series.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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