Clara Nebeling’s joyful photographs bring together communities
The London and Berlin-based photographer is hopeful for the impact photography can have on the future, evidenced in her latest project which is fundraising for a tree planting initiative in Brasil.
- Ruby Boddington
- 12 March 2020
“At the moment, what I find most exciting about photography is that it’s become so accessible to a broad range of people,” says London and Berlin-based photographer Clara Nebeling. “I find it fascinating the way almost every human on earth uses the medium and the impact it has for the future.” With a keen interest in the democratisation of photography, Clara enjoys projects which bring the creative community together and her work often embodies a down-to-earth realism, with her website simply reading: “reality in beauty, beauty in reality.”
Clara grew up in the German countryside where there “wasn’t a lot to do,” so she picked up a camera and started photographing her sister and her best friend. “I think I liked the mixture of fiction and reality that you can have with photography,” she recalls. “Also it was a way to connect with people dear to me and probably, more importantly, myself in my teenage years.”
Today, her practice still encompasses this notion of play and it’s an element that runs throughout her visual language and concepts. Subjects appear to be friends, whether Clara knows them or not, the photographer’s lens painting anyone she captures in a fond light. “I really like to experiment and get to know new things, staying curious about the world around me. My practice and my concepts derive from that,” Clara explains. The results are often touching portraits which bring out the joyous side of the personality which sides in front of the camera.
GalleryClara Nebeling: German Folklore
An ongoing project of Clara’s which demonstrates her love of community, and which she describes as one of her favourites, is Walking Home, a platform to connect social and creative initiatives. It originated as a campaign in 2019 to raise the youth vote in the European Elections and, after working on it with so many creative friends, “it was clear that we should keep the spirit alive,” Clara says. The latest project to come out of Walking Home is you are my favourite: tree, a publication fundraising for a new tree planting initiative in Brazil, spearheaded by agricultural specialist Valeria Brito.
The publication brings together photographers’ favourite photographs of trees alongside texts and drawings made by children from Clara’s former elementary school. Each purchase of the book will equate to approximately 20 trees planted. “I think it’s important to create spaces for art that nourishes community and vice versa,” Clara adds.
Even in her more traditionally editorial work, this idea of nourishing community and bringing people together certainly exists. As part of the original EUnited project, Clara produces a series of photographing documenting pan-European couples, arguing that “love transcending borders will shape the future of Europe.” Clara's own parents come from different countries – Germany and Portugal – and growing up with two distinct cultures has shaped her way of seeing the world, allowing her to see it from more than one perspective.
This manifests across her portfolio which is uplifting, hopeful and sincere. It’s perhaps the result of Clara’s tendency to do all of her own casting and work with people continuously before a shoot and while she’s behind the camera. “There is something really beautiful about growing together,” she concludes.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.