NIGHTED Introduces:: Nikki Greene

Who are you?
I’m Nikki Greene. I’ve lived all over California and most recently moved to Oakland via San Francisco. Nothing too exciting. Look up the video “Charles Manson’s Epic Answer” - that’s how I should ideally answer this question in the future.

What do you look for when taking photos?
I often don’t really look for anything in particular but I find a lot. I’m less concerned with good lighting and the rule of thirds. I’m more interested in the subject matter and often no one finds it very impressive but me. I can be pretty annoying to hang out with because I’m constantly stopping to take photos of random shit. Every time I go outside I find people or trash or signs that give me a chuckle and I take a photo of that. During this past summer, I spent a month in Berlin for a residency and when I felt uninspired, I would just hang out in front of the most enticing places I could find - sex shops, casinos, etc. - and wait until I saw something worth photographing. A lot of solitude, a lot of stares. It is very uncomfortable and I wouldn’t recommend it. People underestimate how hard it is to take a photo of a stranger looking straight at you. I’m constantly pushing myself to toughen up. I have a dark sense of humor. Many of my photos may look like they were taken with a serious eye, but the images I am drawn to will always make me smile.

When was the last time you witnessed something unexplainable?
I’ve lived in the Tenderloin, 6th Street, Mission and West Oakland. Almost everyday I see something that cannot be explained and that’s how I like it.

Where is your favorite place to be?
I like spending a lot of time in Chinatown. On a more meditative note, I really appreciate the brief time spent loading film to be developed - just hanging out in complete darkness and concentrating only on the task at hand. It is a rare relief to escape my own thoughts. I have a lot of love for a good bathtub too.

Why do you live the way you do?
At this point I don’t have many other options, and anyway, I just really couldn’t see it any other way. I feel very privileged to live the way I do. I mean, I made the choice and I’ve taken the risks, and it is by no means easy to take the nonconformist path, but I have a lot of freedom. I took a job recently that put me at a desk for much of the day and after a month my ass was in such pain. I couldn’t stand it. And for what? To take short scheduled breaks to try to catch some daylight, spend all my money getting to and from work, a weekly binge on alcohol to make me feel like I’ve done something fun. Nah, I’m a workaholic for sure, but I prefer working diligently on the things that I find worthwhile. Sometimes I see no real point in my photography, but at least I get some satisfaction from the process of creating. Even if that means teetering on the edge of poverty.

Nikki’s Website