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Interview with Nolan Lister | Fashion Photographer

Nolan Lister is an extremely gifted South African Fashion and Fine Art Photographer. He recently joined the DPC ranks and we had Deon interview him. Today, we will talk mainly about his Fashion Photography. Read all about it…

Nolan-Lister-Fashion Photographer


We would like to welcome you as a valued member of the DPC team and we know that you will be enjoying our students and especially teaching them your craft and shooting philosophy. You have so much to add and we can’t wait to learn from you, lecturers included! 

In order to introduce you to our students, we would like you to answer a few questions: 


Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Nolan Lister. I’m a graphic designer and photographer based in Pretoria.


If you could live anywhere on this planet, where would that be?

That is a difficult question… there are so many amazing places I could see myself in. But one place does stand out and that is Denmark.


Did you go to school to study photography?

No. I had a very basic photography class when I was studying at Wits Tech. It revolved around black and white film work… way before digital. After studying, things become very much self-taught.


How long have you been a photographer?

I started shooting at the age of 13 and seeing that I’m almost 40, that’s a good 27 years…. WOW!


As a young man, you have had the privilege to work with some of the best fashion photographers in Europe. Tell us about your time with them and how they influenced your style?

I was very fortunate to have assisted a few top fashion photographers in the UK. The most influential photographers I have worked with are, Rankin, Nick Knight and Bob Carlos Clarke.

With all of them, I learnt a lot. The great part of it all was that they were all self-taught too. They spent hours in the studio working with, understanding and learning about light. During this time, the fashion bug bit me… the glitz and the glamour. The interaction between photographers, models and creative directors was great to watch and experience. The respect for each other was the most important part of all and it’s sad how it lacks in today’s industry. 


How would you describe your style?

This is always a tough question for me. Let me try… Here goes. I see my style as underexposed raw emotion. A lot of my work feeds of what the model brings to the shoot… not clothing wise but attitude. I try to create a feeling of mystery through the poses and facial expressions leaving the viewer with his/her own thoughts. My photos are the introduction and the viewer’s thoughts are the conclusion…


What is your take on the Canon / Nikon debate?

The age old story… like Mac or PC. To me, a camera is just a tool to help you capture your vision. At the end of the day, the best camera is the one in your hands no matter what make it is…


What is your favourite fashion photography accessory, other than your camera and lens?

I would say my Profoto lights. They are workhorses!!


If you had to choose one lens, which one would it be and why?

Hmmmm… that’s like asking a fine art painter what is their favourite colour. I am going to be a bit cheeky with my answer for this question. As I do fashion/beauty and landscape photography, I’m going to give you two choices. For my fashion work I’m going to say the 70-200 f2.8 L II and for landscape, my current favourite is the 17-40 f4 L. Both lenses allow me to cover the field of view I desire and achieve my vision of what I’m trying to create.


How important is Photoshop in your final images?

Photoshop is very important in my workflow. It helps me bring my vision to reality.


Are you a Mac or PC lover?



Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on?

I think it is the curse of being a photographer… You always want more gear! Ha ha ha. The one thing I’m eyeing out is the Phase One medium format setup. 


What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such awesome imagery?

The one thing, and it’s one of the most important aspects of being a fashion/beauty photographer, is keeping up with the current trends in the industry. Other than that I would say movies, studying the works of photographers that inspire you and even a new colour you see can trigger ideas for a beauty shoot. A big influence is what attitude the model brings with to a shoot… this helps me get a feel and direction of where the images will go. Another great inspiration is chatting to like-minded photographers or models. Often I sit with friends and we bounce ideas off each other. You’ll be amazed at how your initial idea grows.


How do you keep educating yourself to take better pictures?

By practicing. To me, it’s one of the best ways to learn and grow. 


What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing fashion?

Keeping your client happy. To me, the biggest challenge is the logistics of setting up a shoot. It can sometimes take months before you finally shoot.


Give us the top three fashion photographers that inspire you.

Nick Knight, Craig McDean and Daniella Midenge


What single piece of advice can you give our young aspiring fashion photographers just starting out?

Work hard and practice! Keep things clean and simple in the beginning. Treat your model with respect. A model appreciates the guidance from a photographer so talk to him/her during the shoot… tell them they are doing well and always keep them in the loop as to what you’re going to do next… if it’s a change in lighting, clothes or location…


Which five words will your friends use to describe you?

I would hope they would say… loyal, funny, creative, inspiring and passionate


What would you like to be doing 10 years from now?

Creating photos…


Here’s a Collection of 18 images to show Nolan’s versatility. 

Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister


Nolan Lister

We are honoured to have such an accomplished artist and photographer on our team! Check out more of Nolan’s work on his website

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One Comment

  1. Warren James
    Warren James 2016/03/30 at 17:32

    Thx for the share, much appreciated. I have followed your work for some time now Nolan and look up to your natural flair.

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