Colour and intuition: a chat with photographer Nick Mckinlay

Blues Mountains-based photographer and videographer Nick Mckinlay is the kind of artist that makes you reconsider the way you visually process the world.

He has an incredible grasp on how to bring the vibrancy of colour out of every subject – whether it’s the neon of stage lighting or the cheery pop of foliage. In fact, colour is almost as much a centrepiece of his photography as the subject itself. And this makes you realise that there’s something beautiful to contemplate wherever you look – you just have to allow your eyes to see it.

We had a chat with Nick about his use of colour, how he’s pushed himself to follow his intuition, and how the Blue Mountains has influenced his work.

Julia Jacklin

We chat with photographer and videographer Nick Mckinlay about his use of colour, follow his intuition, and how the Blue Mountains has influenced his work.

Happy: How does where you live affect your work?

Nick: I lived in the Blue Mountains for most of my life, but I’m not really a landscape or nature photographer. I think having that around has been great, it’s just there are a lot of people already doing that kind of thing really well. It pushed me to work with more domestic and street themes.

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Happy: How do you know when a work is finished?

Nick: I’m not entirely sure! I remember hearing about an artist who was releasing an album, and they worked on it until the day it was due to be pressed. I guess when you feel good about and you’re ready to move on, or when you’re forced to be finished!

Happy: What are some themes or motifs that you find consistently crop up in your work?

Nick: Colour and people are probably things that follow me about. I’m just interested in seeing people fill spaces they aren’t normally supposed to.

Happy: How would you say your style has developed over time?

Nick: I’ve definitely become quicker at making decisions. I try to just go with my gut instead of sitting on something forever. That isn’t to say you don’t care about something, just that I found a project is better served if I don’t overthink it.

In the same vein, you might push or pull the colours ‘too’ much on a photo, and in the end, you may need to edit them a bit. But I guess I’ve developed the confidence (stupidity) to be bold about the decisions I make and find myself using the work that might be thought of as a little over the top.

Happy: Who are some local artists that you love that we should check out?

Nick: There are so many talents in Sydney that I follow the work of. A photographer would be Elize Strydom, who takes insane portraits and is a light wizard Twin Rivers. Musician-wise, Jade Imagine is doing great things for the Melb music scene.