My name is Nina Welch-Kling and I grew up in a small, quiet town in southern Germany where everyone knew each other—or at least it seemed that way to me at the time. As the daughter of a Holocaust surviving father and German mother, critically observing my immediate world was, and is, part of my DNA. I have lived in New York City since 1995, married, and have two now college-aged daughters.
The German word Wanderlust, which means a strong desire to travel, best describes why I choose to move to the U.S. in 1987 when I was in my twenties to continue my education, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Master of Architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles. While raising my children, I rediscovered my passion for photography. Initially, I took online photography classes which helped me to understand manual camera settings, natural light, composition, as well manipulating an image in Photoshop. Multiple classes and mentoring have been instrumental in developing and defining my voice as a photographer.
I would like to think that where is not important. I am lucky to live in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, full of endless photographic possibilities. New York City, with its diverse neighborhoods, satisfies my need to seek and collect a vast variety of impressions that I enjoy capturing in my photography. I often pinch myself looking around with a child’s eye, marveling at the organized chaos around me. I frequently return to the same locations in the city – familiar locations help eliminate some of the variables. Street photography to me is about being reactive—accessing a scene in front of you and making it come together in a frame. It helps to know where the light hits your subject and how people pass through that space.
My love for architecture is evident in my work. My background and training informs how I see the world as many rules of architecture are applicable to photography such as the importance of light and shadow, how people move through space, and the use of a grid that implies order and scale.
I am interested in capturing the everyday routine of people. Stepping into the street is like stepping into the open-air theatre of everyday life. Every second is filled with photographic opportunities, people pushing through to their destinations despite rain, snow or oppressive heat – this mosaic excites me every time I observe it. My diptych series, Duologues, records fragments of these encounters. It is a play between two images creating meanings belonging to neither—a discovery process each viewer interprets differently. By pairing two photos that occurred at different moments in time, the story that emerges can bring them together.
To me, photography is a single focus activity that allows me to zoom in (pun intended) on what surrounds me. Taking photos is my form of active meditation. I love observing and interacting with people – I like listening to people’s stories. I love people watching and capturing a fleeting moment.