“Photo shoots are therapeutic to me. It is a form of self-expression and over coming things. Some people talk about problems and feel better. I photograph them.”
Justice ‘Nemi’ Bulat is one of those bewitching little talents that manages to create her own little worlds within our own. Working under the name Paramnesia Photography, her work has featured models such as Pete Bennett, Missa Belle, Jo Narcissa, and international performance artist Marnie Scarlet.
Beautiful and alluring, devilish, delicious and daring, it’s easy to see that Nemi’s pictures are connected to the universal energy running through us. They’re snapshots of that seductive little crawlspace between dawn and day, high and sobriety. Like sitting in a field surrounded by the sun coming up while still running on last night’s adventures; sleep deprived, happy, inquisitive, watching the world of animals and enchantments coming to life all around you.
But it’s not only birth and life commencing, Nemi’s photography has that enchanting feeling of death and life culminating, and the party that accompanies each and every one of them. It’s really captivating. Even in still form, these pictures have a sense of movement to them. Almost like your mind has simply focussed for a second on something that is always twisting and turning, dancing and moving.
Something that I love about her work is the way that her pictures and colours contain that acidic little hum of animal excitement that makes everything slightly more energetic than usual.
Featuring fierce and surreal neon bleaching, as well as dark and earthly textures, Nemi’s colours help to capture the vivid, natural decadence of her subjects, along with the drama, the theatre, the Shakespearean or operatic performance. In this sense, Nemi’s artists almost resemble bewitching little hallucinations or cunning and twinkling little tricks of the light. Once again, that little space in time when you’re just a little drunk or just a little high, but weirdly natural at the same time.
I’d say Nemi’s photographs have the feel of Victorian elegance, European surrealism, and opium dreams laced with the Devil’s fairy tales, all mixed with the worlds and wonders of Bram Stoker, Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allen Poe, and Aldous Huxley.
I think the sign of a great artist is when you can see how meticulous they are, and how thoughtful they are about their creations. It’s really fun and enjoyable to see how much time has been spent caring for the images. It’s easy to snap away like a Kodak fiend, but it’s harder to stop and take a few minutes to paint something that makes an audience curious and inquisitive.
What a wonderful talent to enjoy.
Nemi took time out from dancing around taking beautiful pictures to talk to MG about the magic and mystery of her work. This is what she had to say when we threw a bunch of questions at her…
Your pictures are very beautiful. How long have you been taking pictures and working as a photographer?
Ever since I was a kid I loved taking photos. Back then it was getting into my parents face and catching them off guard. Even then I love the absurdity of people shifting once you point the camera. My granddad gave me my first camera. It was a Russian Lomo Zenit, and it was glued to my hand. Was sort of like a friend you make memories with ( I was a lonely kid, ha!).
There were times in my life when I have put it on the side. At one point I had not taken a photo for years, and I was incredible unhappy. I am wiser now and the camera is something I could not live without. I have been working as photographer for about four years now.
What kind of concepts do you like to shoot?
I love to express an emotion. Not necessarily always a pretty one. Storytelling through dark imagery. I always had some fascination with things out of the ordinary. As a kid I was devouring horror books and films, and I loved being afraid. Fear can be quite exhilarating. I love fantasy, horror, the bizarre and macabre, and then mixing it with fashion.
What comes first – the model (or artist), the location, or the concept?
Every shoot is different really. Most of the times it starts as an idea, then I start building it from there. My mind is like an old attic, cluttered with all kinds of stuff that want to come out. Hardest for me personally is to find clothes. On quite a lot of shoots I have worked with my friends who were not necessarily models. It has taken me some time to convince them to stand in front of camera. We had so much fun and naturally the results were great.
Your work is very accessible but it also contains a lot of experimental touches (that’s a compliment). What excites you the most about art and photography?
Ah, thank you. It is the whole process of it. Pre-conceptualizing: choosing specific location, clothes, model etc., it is all very exciting. Putting something from my head into a physical form gets very consuming. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I love learning and growing with it. One thing I have learned is that things never run as you plan. There is always that element of surprise and sometimes not a good one, but it is what you do with it.
I love the digital era and being able to manipulate a photo to create world I would want to live in, but I do miss film photography. There is some intimacy that can’t be replaced as you watch them develop in front of your eyes. Never quite knowing what you made….
What challenges you the most when it comes to photography? And which parts of it do you enjoy the most?
Being limited. I am not a fan of shooting indoors, and I rarely do it. I feel restricted there. When I shoot I am all over the place. I don’t use a tripod; I roll around like I am in a jungle or something. The weather in England can be quite challenging. You can plan for a lot of things but not the weather. I have shot in the rain before, and, as romantic and eerie it might seem, it is also dreadful to me personally. I am quite … er … clumsy. I tend to walk into things a lot and fighting gravity can be tricky even when dry, so wet surfaces and me are not on very friendly terms. Ha!
Photo shoots are therapeutic to me. It is a form of self-expression and over coming things. Some of them are chapters of my life portrayed by other people (of my self portraits). Some people talk about problems and feel better. I photograph them. I love working with like-minded people that will do anything for a photo. Sometimes my requests can be … unconventional.
For example, I had Amy floating in a very dirty pond for the Ophelia shoot. There were “things” touching her from the muddy water and she remained calm. She was cold and had small fishes nibbling her but she stayed in the water for as long as I needed her. Make up artist Chantelle Quince also took her shoes off and joined us in the water without complaining. I could go on with this list, because there were other people willing to do things for the photo shoot. I have been really lucky with some of them. Those things are priceless.
I like the way that you manage to focus the viewer on both the model AND their
surroundings/what they’re doing and wearing. I think this is very skilful and almost like a portrait inside a landscape. How do you go about achieving this? Or is it just the magic of creativity?
You are such a sweetheart, thank you. I love nature – it is a background that tells a story on its own. I am a pagan at heart and I feel inspired there.
It looks like you put a lot of care and thoughtfulness into you work. How long does a shoot take from concept through to its completion?
Sometimes it all falls together and goes quite easy and fast. Other times it takes longer than I would like to. I have a notebook full of drawings and concepts that have been there for months – a few have been there for years. Outfits are quite important for creating the mood. You get the feeling through surroundings and model, but clothes helps paint it, too. That is what mostly gets in the way.
What’s good and bad about sharing your work with the wider world?
Hmm, I only recently found the bad thing about it. There is a guy selling my photos (and other artist’s too) which he had taken off Facebook pages. It has left me with no choice but to post lower resolution and quality photos. That makes me sad.
The good thing about sharing my work is that it keeps me motivated.
What camera lenses and equipment do you use and what is your favourite combination? (unless of course this is a secret!)
Haha, it is no secret. I have been Canon girl ever since I was a teenager. I love to shoot with Canon 5D Mark II and my favourite lens is Canon EF 24-70mm.
What creations are you working on at the moment or looking to do in the future?
Oh, I just got back from holiday so I am fully charged (and slightly fatter due to my mom’s cooking haha) and have lot of projects lined up. This weekend I will be taking photos of Brighton Pride. Next week I am again working with the wonderful Marnie Scarlet. Also I will be shooting a few drag queens this month, and working with Pete Bennett again.
Check out more of Nemi’s great work at Paramnesia Photography.