NZ photographer Larnie Nicolson travels our country, visiting houses and offices made into amazing homes and studios, and the fascinating people who live and work in them. Dream job, lady. Dream job. Larnie actually started out as a graphic designer, but one who spent more time taking photos than anything else. So, a fair few years after graduating, she went back to Uni and 'started again', this time earning a degree in photography. Now based in Auckland, Larnie's photography portfolio spans over a decade, filled with shoots for our best magazines and creative agencies. Last year, she and LeeAnn Yare published their first book together - NZ Interior Style and are currently shooting for a second book, due out later this year.
The teeniest of selections from Larnie's portfolio
You've been a freelance photographer for over ten years now. What leaps of faith or challenges have you overcome?
Yes, so many challenges! I had been living overseas for several years after initially studying Graphic Design and I decided to come back and study photography. At 27 this was hugely challenging but I absolutely loved it and turned out I was a bit of a nerd who did quite well.
Luckily when I started my business I was completely naïve and the thought of failing honestly didn’t cross my mind. Saying that, there were many dark days when I was trying to start my business and didn’t really have a portfolio but I persevered – I had no choice! About a year after I graduated I spent a month in San Francisco and New York and shot 7 or 8 stories for Urbis and Architecture NZ and that kick-started everything for me. But yes, many, many leaps of faith are needed when you start a business and anyone who has done it will agree.
What would you say to others wanting to go out on their own and pursue a career based on passion?
Don’t expect to make any money for the first few years!
Sort out your systems early on when you are quiet. For me it was needing to bring order to the thousands of images which can quickly overwhelm. I also completed a business course and wrote an extensive business plan. This helped immensely because I then had a direction to take the business that had lacked previously.
on the job
Part of the co-working studio space with Supply. I'd bags the yellow chair during meetings.
What are you looking forward to at the moment?
Hanging with family and friends, diving, surfing and road trips over summer. I’ve just bought my first home so I'm looking forward to moving in in the end of this month!
My second interiors book with stylist and writer LeeAnn Yare is out this October so that is super exciting too.
Larnie's Home Sweet Home. Love those concrete-block shelves!
Pouf Envy (haha)
What is on your wishlist at the moment?
Practical things like a new kitchen and new carpet for my new place. Once I’m settled in I’ll be taking a drive to the SPCA to choose my cat which I’ve wanted for so long but couldn’t have in my rented place. I’ll probably come home with three!
What is your most favourite possession in your home? What about in your studio?
I share an office with Supply who are a Design and Interactive company (they did my website) and they are awesome! Apart from them it’s the pinball machine – it’s a good break from hours of processing some days.
At home I love my secondhand chair that I had recovered in powder blue material, my mustard yellow pouf that my Mum bought me, the Beast Rug, Sacrificial chair and Birdhouse Bookcase that I’ve just received from Thing Industries in the States which are in my bedroom. However this all pales in importance to my photos which are on hard drives and are very precious.
You've made a name for yourself as an exceptional interiors photographer. Aside from amazing homes, what do you most love to shoot?
Well any magazine art director will tell you I am totally obsessed with animals, so I make them model for me in any shoot I can. I love road trips and shooting landscapes but there might be something quirky that catches my eye. I like the everyday occurrences that just happen and I think photographers in general have a hyper sense of what is going on around them.
Commercially as well as interiors I enjoy shooting construction and working for design agencies but actually I’m just happy to work. It’s such a challenge running your own business that part of the fun is helping your clients fulfill part of their marketing brief which in turn helps grow their business which of course good photography does do.
L A T E L Y, I ' M L I S T E N I N G T O...
Foals, Killers, Lorde, The Shins, Arcade Fire, The National, old school music like Led Zeppelin and The Stones. Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday are so chilled and we play Bfm at the studio.
T A S T I N G...
The free-range scrambled eggs at Cool Food (in Bloc, Mt Eden) are sooo good, as are the corn fritters at Bambina café on Ponsonby Rd.
W A N T I N G T O V I S I T...
Diving the Poor Knights – I’ll be doing that this summer. The diving in Palau is meant to be amazing too but that is a distant dream for now. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Vietnam so that will probably be the next international place I go to. Can’t wait!