Interview #19: Ellie Niemeyer


CUS: First of all, the most standard question in the book: how did you get into photography?

Ellie Niemeyer: I kind of just started messing around with my moms digital camera, and it ended up being something I really like. So I decided to save up money for my own camera, and I got a Canon Powershot S2 IS. I'd had that for maybe two years, then I saved up once again and bought a Canon 400D. I guess that's how it started.


CUS: Tell us a little about where you live.

EN: I live just outside of a fairly small town in Nebraska. There's not really much for excitement, it's nice I guess. But I definitely don't plan on being here forever.


CUS: If you could photograph any person (past or present) who would you choose?

EN: I've always thought it would be cool to be able photograph musicians, like Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, or Jimi Hendrix.


CUS: Do you have a favorite subject you like to shoot? And why? 

EN: I really like photographing people. I also like photographing things that usually go unnoticed or overlooked. It's just something I enjoy.


CUS: What is your most treasured possession?

EN: My possessions mean nothing to me. I really value memories.


CUS: What sort of themes do you try to explore through your photographs? Is there any one in particular in which you try to convey often?

EN: I really just want to take photos of everyday life. I want to take photos of the people I love, just having a good time, being real. Like maybe sitting around a campfire, eating breakfast in the morning, or reading a book. I'd really like to get more into taking candid photos, I enjoy those the most.


CUS: Do you have a favorite photographer?

EN: Oh I have many. I'm constantly coming across photographers that I like. But to name a few, I really like Ananda Serné, Sally Mann, and Moyra Davey. They've taken some really incredible photos.


CUS: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

EN: I made some pancakes...they weren't from a box. Oh yes : )


CUS: Do you believe that with the rise of digital photography the phrase “everyone can be a photographer” is true? 

EN: Hm, I don't know I guess it depends on what you consider to be a photographer. Everyone seems to have their own idea of what it means. Who's to say I'm even a photographer, I mean I just take pictures. So I really can't say.


CUS: What kind of camera do you enjoy using the most?

EN: I enjoy my Nikon EM the most. (well it's technically my moms, but basically mine heh.) I just really enjoy film, it captures things in ways that digital can't.


CUS: Do you always have preconceived concepts of what you want to shoot? 

EN: I do sometimes, but not lately. I've just really enjoyed candid photos, which I actually find more difficult.


CUS: If every photograph should contain one key element, what would it be in your opinion?

EN: I'd say honesty. I always love an honest photo where the emotion is just so intense.


CUS: What are some of your favorite films?

EN: I don't watch very many, but I've always really liked Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events. I like that it's not set in any particular era, and I enjoy the mysterious, and eerie mood it has. It's so interesting. I also really like Forest Gump.


CUS: Describe your family in one sentence.

EN: It's a large family, there's nine kids and I love it.


CUS: What is your favorite photograph that you’ve taken, and what’s the story behind it?

EN: Oh I don't know, maybe this one. There really isn't a story behind it…


CUS: What’s playing on your iTunes right now?

EN: It's Alright, Ma - by Bob Dylan.


CUS: Where does your inspiration usually come from?

EN: It can come from anything really. I'm usually inspired by various photographers.


CUS: Who, or what, is your biggest influence?

EN: I guess just the people I'm around the most influence me in some ways. No one in particular.


CUS: What are five things you can’t live without?

EN: Just what keeps me alive. Food, water, know that kind of stuff.


CUS: What’s your fondest childhood memory?

EN: Family vacations. I always remember looking forward to those. We'd always go camping, that's all we ever did, I loved it. We don't go as often anymore.


CUS: If you could go anywhere in the world to take photographs where would you go?

EN: I'd love to go to England and take photos of the castles there.


CUS: What is the thing you like the least about photography? The most?

EN: I dislike that at this point in my life I'm not able to take the kind of photos I'd really like to. I just feel so limited being where I am in life.


CUS: What do you think the world will be like 50 years from now?

EN: Thinking of how fast technology advances, I think everything will be much more high-tech, and futuristic I guess.


CUS: What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on a photo shoot?

EN: Nothing weird has really happened to me. The only place I ever really take photos at is at my house because there's lots of trees and some nice places to take photos, and I live outside of town, so I've never had any interesting encounters with strangers.


CUS: If you could be anyone for a day who would you be?

EN: I really wouldn't want to be anyone but myself.


CUS: What have you always wanted to photograph but have thought was too hard or difficult to execute?

EN: I've always thought it would be cool to do street photography and take photos of interesting people seen on the streets. But it'd be really difficult to do where I live..

CUS: What are your other hobbies besides photography?

EN: I play guitar, and I cut hair, mostly my brothers, and a few friends. It's just kind of something I got into after I started cutting my own hair. I like it, it's fun.


CUS: What is something that no one knows about you?

EN: There's a lot no one knows about me. I'm always contemplating things, and don't usually share them with other people. I guess I get lost in my thoughts. They're all just eventually forgotten anyway.


CUS: What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?

EN: I've never had any kind of injury that I've had to go to the hospital for or anything. But I remember one time when I was on vacation camping with my family. I was riding my bike, just flying down this huge hill and at the bottom there was some loose gravel. I wiped out really bad. I wasn't wearing a helmet. It was pretty terrifying, I can remember it really well. There weren't any serious injuries from it though.


CUS: Where do you see yourself in 20 years? Do you think that photography will still be a big part of your life?

EN: I see myself as hopefully being very happy. Most definitely. It will be, I just know it.


CUS: What advice would you give to your fellow up-and-coming photographers?

EN: Don't take photos based on whether or not other people like them. You'll enjoy it more if you just don't worry about it.


CUS: What are your plans for the summer?

EN: I plan on enjoying what's left of it, and that's about it.


CUS: Our last interviewee, Rockie Nolan, wants to know: You get to pick ONE thing from a camera shop that is fully stocked with every lens, camera, and accessory ever created in the history of cameras. You get to pick one thing to use for a day, what do you take?!

EN: Oh, I've always wanted a Minolta slr. I'd probably go with a Minolta str 101.


CUS: Last but not least, what would you like to ask our next Interviewee?

EN: Is there a certain photograph that never seems to escape your mind, one that you find yourself constantly coming back to? I'd love to see it.


ed. note: images updated 09/13

Ellie Niemeyer from Kearney, Nebraska


Images provided by Ellie Niemeyer. All rights reserved.