Nelou Zikas is photographer and a military wife currently living in Europe. Her dog is her favorite person and her passions include photography, graphics, architecture, and design. Nelou easily spotted wearing some random shade of green with a cup of coffee in hand. Flea markets are her teensy obsession. Oh, and she tends to get a little “shiny penny” when she sees a pretty chair. It has been a great pleasure for us to take an interview with Nelou Zikas who shared some interesting facts of her biography. We wish you a pleasant reading of Nelou Zikas success story and viewing of her tender photography.
AP: Nelou, tell us about your first works. What did they look like?
Nelou: Honestly, where to begin? I suppose you could say that my imagination was sparked by my wedding photographer ten years ago (wow, has it really been that long?). His vision was so different from what a lot of others were doing at the time. However, as I look back, it’s clear that I’ve always had a love for photography… Even when all I had was my handy dandy point and shoot. Some of my favorite images were taken with that camera, and they still hang on my wall to this day! My passion has always been more geared towards the fine art side…but a little over a year ago, and after much prodding from family and friends… I decided to try my hand at the portraiture side of things. It has been a wonderful learning experience, and it has challenged me more than I thought possible.
AP: Do you have any formal education in your sphere or were you self-taught?
Nelou: I went to the University of Oklahoma (Boomer!) where I focused on architecture and art history and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design. We were a fairly small class, and you want to know what the funny thing is? There are several of us that are now focusing on photography, so it must go hand in hand a bit, or so it seems… Design school taught me a lot about working with my colleagues, encouraging each other, and continually striving to be better. After graduation, I worked as an Architectural Project Manager. Then as things go… My hubby got orders to Germany, which left me in a gorgeous place with a lot of free time on my hands. So you guessed it… I upgraded that point and shoot and got down to business. I am self-taught by trial and error, lots of research, and a little guidance from a great friend (I’m especially grateful for all your support Laura!) not to mention she’s also wonderfully inspiring by the way…
AP: What genre are your works?
Nelou: I love the phrase “life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself”. I’ve struggled to find what I thought fit me best… and through trial and error, I’m realizing that you have to go through and just try everything until you have that ‘ah hah’ moment. You’ll feel it when it happens, and everything will start to fall into place. My personal style is a reflection of the world through my eyes, where I tend to focus on candid photography, rather than posed. For me, it’s all about capturing the moment… I agree with the idea that there’s a story or emotion behind every photograph, and I love that I get the opportunity to create a cherished memory which will forever be frozen in time.
AP: How would you describe your works?
Nelou: I would describe myself as a quirky American girl with affection for retro or vintage styling, so I suppose you could say that is reflected in my photography. It’s what speaks to me… how I see the world.
AP: What kind of equipment and techniques do you use?
Nelou: I currently shoot with a Nikon D5000. (Oh, and I must mention I love my phone, along with a little app called Instagram, when I’m on the go!) I go back and forth on which lens is my favorite, and I would say right now I’m back to my 105mm macro. As for post production, I use both Photoshop and Lightroom. Although for me, it’s important to get it as close to perfect straight out of camera. I don’t do too much cropping or touch up work, other than the occasional blemish. I try to envision the end result and shoot with that in mind.
AP: Would you consider yourself as an expert in photography?
Nelou: Ah yes… the ‘professional’ question… I don’t know that I’m quite comfortable with that term at this point in my journey. I much rather the term ‘artist’ or ‘enthusiast’. After all, shouldn’t we all be excited about what we do? It’s when we lose focus of this and put too much emphasis on catering to the client that we begin to lose ourselves and what we loved about photography in the first place. One thing’s for sure… I will continue to let my imagination run wild and create what’s in my mind’s eye, so long as it brings me happiness and joy.
AP: Is there someone who supports you in your creativity?
Nelou: My hubby and my family have always been supportive of all my endeavors, and they continue to push me toward discovering my hopes and dreams. In addition I’ve managed to meet several wonderfully talented photographers, some of which I’m incredibly lucky to call close friends. We critique, and help, and encourage one another, which is refreshing because I feel this is extremely important in making me better at what I do.
AP: What is your success formula?
Nelou: Keep moving forward!! It’s very easy to get discouraged, or to make the mistake of comparing yourself to someone else… A friend recently said it best: ‘If you’re your authentic self, you have no competition!’ (thanks Christina!). Be unique, and focus on learning to better yourself. Keep trying. Your idea may not always come out the way you saw it in your mind, but I feel that these missed moments can become opportunities for growth and improvement. One thing I love is that no two photographs will ever be the same, just as no two people are… We are all truly unique, and I enjoy seeing things differently than the next guy, I’m the only one with my eyes after all… Composition is so intriguing to me. It’s what draws me into an image… If you get nothing else right, that one needs to be spot on. For me, that’s one of the major aspects which sets apart a good photograph from a great photograph.