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Exploring The Works Of Elke Numeyer

How did you get into photography?

Taking photos for the first time coincided with my first overseas travel experience during university back in 2011. I ventured on a Euro Trip – the classic 12 destinations in 12 weeks tourathon – and found myself paying attention to people and also the different natural light Europe had in comparison to Australia. The photos weren’t anything particularly noteworthy and my editing choices were, humorous.

How would you describe your visual style?

I was hell bent on analogue film for many years which produced a few of my proudest images but also a lot of average work. I also began shooting what was available naturally to me in public, making a lot of travel albums and destination-based submissions. Now I shoot more portraits and often use a digital camera but I still get the same kind feedback: ‘cinematic’, ‘intimate’, ’emotional’.

You’re clearly well travelled. What are some of your go-to locations for inspiration?

I heard a friend say once that you could drop your camera down a flight of stairs in India and if the shutter went off along the way, you’d still capture worthwhile images. India is a stunningly photogenic place and locals love inviting you into their lives and being photographed which is motivating. I learned about composition but I also learned life lessons in tolerance and gratitude. It’s healthy to be challenged though – Japan was a very difficult place to roam with a camera, beautiful though it is. A seemingly restrictive destination can force you to observe more actively. I’m currently obsessed with capturing my own home.

How would you differentiate the creative industry in Europe comparative to Australia?

I haven’t lived in Australia for the better half of ten years so I don’t know the personal experience for creatives living there, but the work itself looks ripe with intention and integrity. I remember feeling so lonely as a young creative in Sydney wondering how I’d make ends meet with my meagre experience and the cost of living definitely puts pressure on freelancers – on everyone – which I think has resulted in some attitudes that I don’t really identify with anymore. There’s naturally a ‘scene’ in Europe and the UK – who produce work between the countries and I think having many varied cultures and history to reflect on makes the work diverse and investigatory, and the ‘fairer’ a country is tends to mean more initiatives, grants, opportunities and events for emerging creatives, with diverse qualifying measures. I see a lot of trends shared between Australia and Europe (especially in fashion imagery) which is somehow a shame – Australia has such a unique cultural and physical landscape to inform its work. I’d love to see more local references there!

You’re now a magazine editor. Can you tell us about that project and where to find your work?

Yes, during the pandemic I was fortunate to have some stress-free time off – a fair country luxury – which I used to manifest some creative ideas I’d held onto for a while. If Not Now was put together during this time and is driven by people’s intentions for better environmental and social circumstances. I perceived a gap in local media for telling authentic stories and sharing impactful work (creative, or otherwise) and wanted to create a platform that inspires thoughts, conversations, engagement and maybe even some new projects. I just launched the second installment, The Surface Issue, which dives deep into our experience with Earth’s tangible, physical layers and positions objecthood as inspiration for finding meaning in our daily experience with our environments. I reached out to many local companies and individuals making promising actions within their fields and I was graced with many submissions from around the world who produced some incredibly beautiful and complex creative work.