10 quick questions, 5 professional and 5 random, with people you should know.
Brooke Nipar was born and raised in Southern California. An equestrian for most of her childhood she found a great love for the outdoors. She attended and graduated from Art Center. In 2002 Brooke moved to NY where she still maintains a home in Brooklyn. Quickly Brooke became one of the most sought after young female photographers. Sexy, Energetic, and fun is what clients such as Doritos, Converse, Lee, and Covergirl hired her for. Recently she has worked with Stoli, Saks Fifth Ave, Nordstrom, Gillette, Steve Madden, and Material Girl. Editorial clients include British GQ, British Glamour, Details, Esquire, French Glamour, Marie Claire, Sports Illustrated, Teen Vogue and Vogue to name a few. Her energy has also made her a favorite with musicians such as Pharrell, Rita Ora, Iggy Azalea, Azealia Banks and Sean John. Brooke is currently bi-coatsal with residences in LA and NY.
Q. What about this profession attracted you? Did you have a mentor or an apprenticeship?
BN. I have honestly never done anything else. I’ve been a photographer my whole life. I decided when I was pretty young, fifteen, that I wanted to be a photographer. I just decided to do it, and then I did it. I had another friend who was into photography at the time. We would dress each other up and take photos. I was really into fashion photography back then, in the 90’s, it is one of my favorite eras for photography. It was a completely different time and I’m so happy that I was able to experience that in my life and career and that I straddle this line of analog and digital. When I’m taking pictures I think in terms of shooting film. I don’t think in terms of shooting digitally. I try and make it as perfect as possible on camera. I’m coming from a film perspective in terms of exposure, contrast and color and how they relate to one another. I think it’s so deeply ingrained in me that I don’t know any other way. As for the second part of the question, I would have had a mentor or an apprenticeship, but there wasn’t that one person that I just clicked with in that way, so I just started working. This industry is interesting. There is no right way or wrong way to do things in how you want to pursue your career. You can go to school or not go to school. You can assist or not assist. It is really just your call on what you think you need to do. I moved to NYC in 2002 and I just started working. That was my plan and I stuck to it and I tried really hard.
Q. What about your work can’t you teach? What makes the work unique to you?
BN. Everybody always tells me when they look at my photos they see me in my photos. I’m not trying to do that, that is something that just comes across. They are always feminine and sexy, but empowering and strong rather than raunchy or whatever. I wouldn’t be able to teach somebody how to take a sexy photo of a woman the way that I feel I can. It’s just something that comes out of me and that I connect to because I’m a woman and I think that I understand what my ideal version of being beautiful and being sexy is. I hear a lot from women I photograph too that they love that about working with me. It’s that whatever they get is very feminine and it’s still very sexy, but not in this way they don’t connect with.
Q. What is your Spirit animal? Why?
BN. Leopard. because it’s my favorite animal. Since I was really young, I’ve always been really into leopards and leopard print and I just love them. I think they are a beautiful animal. Sleek and sexy and cool and I actually got to work on a shoot with a bunch of safari animals and I got to take a picture with the leopard and I actually got to pet her and everything. I was like this is actually meeting my spirit animal, this is so cool!
Q. What do you love about your job and your work? What do you find the most frustrating and/or challenging about the industry.
BN. What I love about this career is the freedom it allows me to live my life and I mean that on all levels. The freedom to create pretty photos or to have time to do whatever I want. I travel a lot, for work and for fun, but you know it’s to live a life where I can tell my agent “hey I’m going to be gone for this week” and I can just leave. I’ve never worked a 9-5 job at any point so I’ve never even felt what those constraints feel like at all, but I really can’t image doing it. So, I think the freedom and then also the access it allows me to work with so many different really interesting people from all aspects whether that be hair, makeup and styling, assistants that I work with or models and celebrities. The most challenging is that it is a very fickle industry and it’s extremely competitive and sometimes in ways that don’t really make sense.
The ups and downs of the photo industry, I think, are tough. You have to have a really thick skin to remain in this business. I meet people all the time or have known photographers who aren’t working anymore. They let the industry get to them to the point where taking pictures wasn’t fun anymore. It is the criticism and you get told “no” a lot. and that’s ok. you’re not going to be right for everybody or everything. and that’s ok. Being able to be objective about the photos and being able to know if your photos are good or not is important.
Q. Favorite City/Place in the world?
BN. This question is tough! I’ve been to some really amazing places in my life. What comes to mind initially, of a place I’ve already been, that was very special is Siem Reap in Cambodia. It’s where all the temples are and it’s a very special and amazing place. There is nothing else like it in the world. As far as places I’m obsessed with and really want to go, number one on my list is Morocco. It’s one of my main plans for this coming year.
Q. Would you rather be able to change the past or see into the future?
BN. If I had to pick, although I don’t think I would pick either one for different reasons, I’d say to see into the future. I don’t really think there is a point in changing the past, it’s in the past, it’s done. I suppose some version of being able to see in the future could be helpful at times, but living in the moment and having your life be what it is while it is in the moment, is really important.
Q. Last thing you took a photo of?
BN. I did a shoot out in the woods of New Jersey and the concept was based around the occult and the paranormal. I did a fashion shoot based on that.
Q. Best advice, personal or professional, you’ve ever gotten? What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to have your career?
BN. Stay true to yourself. Have a point of view and for that point of view to be consistent. Stick to your guns. A lot of what you see in the photo world, it is a lot of people doing the same thing because they feel like it’s working and getting them work. And that’s one way to approach it, but if you have an actual voice, if you get known for something that’s yours, a world you create, that’s a better way to go about it. It’s more important.
Q. If you could be equally as happy in a different career, what would it be?
BN. The only other thing that I have even considered doing is visuals, art designs for concerts and festivals. What plays behind the band. The design and imagery. It is a mix of photography and video work. It’s become the norm at any of these festivals you go to like Coachella. Every single act has visuals playing and it’s just really interesting what people are doing with them now. It’s so next level because technology has gotten so crazy. What you are able to do is pretty far out.
Q. Has social media helped or hurt our society?
BN. Ahhhhh. Hurt, I think. I have very strong opinions about this. (laughs) I said this to a friend a few years ago, that I love the internet, but it’s ruined everything. I’m happy that I remember life without it because it was different and it was a little easier and a little less crazy. The internet is this amazing resource, it’s the wild wild west, you can learn anything about anything and that’s a hugely positive thing, but then also the bad part of it is this huge resource and you can learn anything about anything. So, it’s one of those things where what is good about it, is also what’s terrible about it. I think social media specifically has clouded people’s minds…especially as a photographer, there has become this obsession, almost, with constantly seeing and knowing what other people are up to. It is the popularity contest that is taking away and devaluing rather than enhancing. I know photographers depending on jobs or brands, lose jobs because they don’t have a certain amount of Instagram followers and that is insane to me! and that, right there, is the number reason I feel this way. Everything is about marketing and it should be about who is best for the job. It’s impossible to not let it affect you. Everybody’s social media life is somewhat made-up and it is made-up to look better than it actually is so, sometimes we have to remind ourselves that this is not a real thing. This is just a place where people post photos.