You might not know Nabil Elderkin's name, but you'll definitely have seen his work as NABIL. The Australian photographer and filmmaker extraordinaire is behind some of the most iconic photos and music videos of the past decade, including Antony & The Johnson's Cut the World' and Frank Ocean's 'Pyramids'. Wonderland get into the mind of this image-maker extraordinaire.

frank ocean [pyramids] from nabil elderkin on Vimeo.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a couple of personal photo projects, going through my photo archive and I’m going to update my website in the next month. I’m working on some ideas for videos for Kanye and some others, a photo shoot for Jeremy Scott, reading movie scripts and stressing as per usual – but I’m still very happy.

Movie scripts?

Yeah, I’m just really starting to put my brain in that direction and connect the dots. It’s always been my goal. I like things to come together naturally and they are. It’s very early stages. I want to make something of quality. Basically I want to make a film that is emotional with a good story and great acting.

You work with a lot of big stars – do you get star struck?

Not really. I’ve had moments, but that was with people like Mandela and Michael Jackson. I was definitely in awe of those two. It was surreal spending time with them. I snapped a few photos but it was more of a moment to enjoy rather than capture.

Nelson Mandela by NABIL

How do you feel about online media?

It’s all good. The world changes; quality is quality and it will always filter. I can appreciate a good Instagram photo for what it is, but also for what is isn’t. Online media is amazing! There’s so much inspiration out there and access to information is just endless. I prefer to travel and see things myself, but I still look at well curated Tumblrs and random sites.

How did you originally get into photography?

I used to shoot surfing in Australia when I was young and then moved into all different types. I started buying all types of cameras and films and tried every kind of lighting and shutter speed so I could technically shoot and light whatever. From there I found different inspirations, and I love music so much that it’s a direction I really pursued.

And what’s your favourite camera to use?

It’s a tough question, especially in the digital age. Sometimes you just want an old camera and a 50mm lens to restrict you and make move you closer and further from your subject. I don’t like zoom. There is something about the dance of shooting and limiting yourself.

How would you describe your music videos?

It depends on the subject, but I’m definitely moving into more conceptual stuff. I like to respect videos enough to let people appreciate and understand how they want an image rather than bombarding them with fast edits and slick imagery. Conceptual is just a million ideas bouncing around in the brain. Those fast-edited videos serve their purpose I guess, but in general they get very repetitive and formulaic. It doesn’t make you go, “Oh damn, I just got to see something unique.”

What music are you listening to at the moment?

I’ve been listening to Antony and the Johnsons, some Bob Marley, some of Kanye's upcoming stuff, classical when I drive.. i'm pretty random.

Any other ambitions for the future?

My ambition is for global domination, or to keep working with great artists that inspire me and making good movies and interesting photos, and travel, and then take over the world again. And also to figure out a way to make cheese healthy.

Frank Ocean by NABIL

Tyler the Creator by NABIL

Kanye West by NABIL

Lil Wayne by NABIL


Words: Mark Izatt


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