Nicole Ngai (25 years old) is a very stereotypical Capricorn workaholic. Born in Singapore, she currently lives in London with her friends Wenchu (writer and a model) and Chantel (a modern futurist focussing on movement and speed)
As a young girl, Nicole dreamt to be an artist with her Grandmother who remained a constant presence in her life and has been her guiding light ever since. Before the lockdown, Nicole’s busy schedule included shooting sessions, meetings and darkroom days. Nicole loves to pass her spare time relaxing with her friends at the pub drinking a good pint.
What was it like being a rising photographer in a city like Singapore?
There isn’t much framework to support young creatives in Singapore. It’s quite stifling there (in many aspects) which was why I moved away.
How and when did you start shooting professionally?
I’ve been taking pictures since I was 18 and have always been doing bits, but I’d say I properly made a career out of it about seven months ago, after I graduated from the photography course at London College of Fashion.
What “THREADS” means for you and how did you conceive it?
The photo series “Threads” was my final major project in uni. I was very interested in exploring the interpersonal relationships formed between a photographer and their subject, an intimate photographic exchange.
Women and their nuances are your main subject, what do they convent to you?
While photographing the women in my zine, I felt pressured by the many pre-existing discourses regarding the depictions of young asian women. While these conversations are important, first and foremost these women were my friends, and I wanted to depict them on a more intimate, personal level as people whom I love!
Your photos convey a lot of femininity, what is your personal relationship with this attitude?
I identify as female, but my attitude has always been very boyish. Recently I’m becoming a lot more self confident and comfortable with my feminine energy, I’m definitely having fun and feeling powerful!
How do you approach your characters? And how do you choose them?
I mainly shoot my friends, or sometimes people I find on instagram.
What is one fun fact about you?
I may come across intimidating but I’m honestly really jokes!
What did you do yesterday?
There’s not much to do with London in lockdown at the moment – but my home developing kit arrived in the mail yesterday so I plan to start working on some self-portraits and developing film in my bathroom.
What is the purpose of your photography? if it has one.
It’s an excuse to have fun and meet people all while making beautiful work!
The best movie you ever saw and why?
My favourite movie is The Handmaiden by Park Chan Wook, it features one of the sexiest bath scenes ever.
Where do you feel the happiest?
Definitely alone in the darkroom, working on some new images.
What do you think about the ruthless competition in the world of photography? How to emerge?
I try not to compare or involve myself too much. I think the best way to go about it is to focus on developing your viewpoint and your work and naturally people will be interested.