Interview: Nicolette Thai

Nicolette Thai is a self-taught photographer based in Toronto. In this interview, we ask her about social media playing a big role in the photography industry, how she got started, her style, and how she prepares for a photoshoot. 


Did you go to school to study photography? 

No I didn’t, I’m currently a marketing student. I’ve had a really messy relationship with school. Similar to a lot of fresh out of high school students who don’t know what they want to do for the rest of their lives, I changed from a lot of programs from Nursing to English with a lot of time off in between. (Sorry mom and dad).


What got you into it?

Instagram really got me into it. I followed a lot of street photographers four years ago on Instagram and picked up the camera to take a shot at the hype of street photography. Rooftopping and photographing buildings soon died out, that’s when I started directing and styling small creative shoots.

How do you prepare for a photoshoot?

I prepare A LOT for a photoshoot, it can take up to weeks. Multiple mood boards for every member of my team (MUA, stylist, set design), folders of reference photos for myself and a lot of time sitting on the train thinking of further concepts. My models and team are always surprised at how fast and efficient I am at shooting, once I get the shot I want we move on. It’s all in the preparation, with the help of three coffees prior to the shoot.


Do you prefer film or digital? Why?

I prefer digital, I enjoy manipulating my photos in post to have a more film-like aesthetic. In digital I can control the outcome (I am such a virgo) and to be quite honest I’m really comfortable with digital. 

Shooting in a studio or outdoors?

All depends on the concept of the shoot, but I have no preference.

How would you describe your style of photography? 

It’s feminine. No matter what the model looks like, if the concept is more edgy and boyish, I always want it to encapsulate female energy. I can’t state exact words to describe my style, but that’s my best way of putting it.

Do you use your Instagram as your portfolio? 

I do!! Instagram is great because you can upload and curate your work within seconds for the world to see. It’s also important to have a website where you can showcase your archive, but Instagram is a great place for first impressions.

Do you think social media plays a huge role in the photography industry? 

Social media is a huge part of the industry. Most of my jobs have actually come from people I’ve met on Instagram and from agencies viewing my page. You see bloggers, influencers, photographers dominating the creative industry in fashion and photography. Having a great number of followers and a large audience can take you far into the industry, but I do think that there is an expiry date. Talent, hard work and a little bit of luck that you make for yourself, makes you stand out from the rest in the long run.


What camera accessories can’t you live without? 

Honestly, just my camera strap and lens. I’m a simple and clumsy girl.

Do you think gear is important? 

No, I don’t think so at all. You can produce great photos with your kit lens and DSLR that your uncle passed down to you. It is all in the preparation and what you want to conceptualize in your photos.


What’s your editing process like? 

More coffee and a lot of time wasting on youtube. I like to use Lightroom for any edits to the photo then Photoshop for fun collages. 

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start doing photography? 

You won’t see growth in your work without practice and patience. You will always be your biggest critic...So just keep shooting.

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