Interview by Julie Lake
Photos by Nicole Pfeiffer
January 2010

Nicole Pfeiffer, a recent graduate of Saginaw Valley State University, has earned her Bachelors Degree in Fine Art with a concentration in photography. Her subject matter usually centers around women and women's issues, such as sexuality, dominance and strength.  She recently submitted photographs and her photo "What I Am Inside" (banner above) has been accepted into the Dirty Show exhibition, which will be held in Detriot, MI February 12-20, 2010. The Dirty Show's mission is to promote, publish and propagate erotic art in all forms through an art exhibition that has become one of the largest in the world. Visit for further information; see also, Pfeiffer's photography website:

Julie Lake:  What message are you trying to communicate through your photos?

 Nicole Pfeiffer:  I think about what will get the most reaction from the average viewer. In the end, I always want to create a question, a wow, an oooh or an aaw. I always want the viewer to want more from my images, even when I am telling a story.  I never purposely try to push a point with my photography, though I do nudge at underlying issues dealing with women, vulnerability, sexuality, dominance and strength.

JL:  Is there a reason that you have chosen women as your main subject matter?

NP:  I have found comfort and inspiration primarily in photographing women for a few reasons. Starting out in photography, female friends were all I had access to, so I was exposed to femininity and beauty at its core.  After some time, I found that I had a real connection with many of my subjects and was able to make them feel comfortable with me. This allowed me to explore my own ideas more and start to have people request photo shoots with me. I find the female form a stunning piece of art in itself and just kept wanting to explore more and more ideas. I have found that women, as opposed to men, are more open in front of the camera with most subject matters and feel the need to express their own ideas and creativity with me.

JL:  How many of your series contain only women as your subject?

NP:  I would say about 90% of them are compromised of all women, though I can't say I always plan them that way.  The series that do include men are happenstance. I would love to include more men in upcoming projects and look forward to working with male models in the future.  Men and women interacting is something I have just begun to touch on.

JL:  Briefly describe the Dirty Show.

NP:  The Dirty Show is an erotic art exhibition that doesn't draw the line between what is considered porn and what is considered fine art in regards to nudity. The Dirty Show accepts all art in any form, and it is open to any expression that an artist has to offer. It has become one of the largest erotic art shows in Michigan and continues to grow. It is an open call art show, judged and exhibited for two weeks in Detroit, MI. 

JL:  Why did you choose to submit an entry to this show?

NP:  I submitted an entry for last year's show, when I first heard about the exhibition, and I had an image accepted then as well, "Second Skin" (in slideshow above).  I wanted to see if I could get more than one image in this year, but having one in the show is an honor alone.  It's also a reason for me to challenge myself with a new project that is fun and exciting and different from my normal, everyday wedding and portrait photography. I can really express some ideas and explore more creative subject matter with my models.

JL:  How did you choose the images you wanted to submit for this show?

NP:  The model and I spent about two hours shooting, just tossing out ideas, using different props, testing out unusual poses.  We never really nailed down exactly what we wanted to enter until we looked at the processed images.  The four images I submitted were mostly based on composition and expression. I chose four different images that expressed a variety of ideas and concepts.

JL:  Why was it important for you to get into this show?

NP:  It was a great reason to push myself to think outside the box and be really creative.  But this show is exciting and I love all the artwork that will be on display. Another reason to push for this show is because so many amazing artists, who have been doing this for years, enter as well.  With this form of photography, many ideas have already been done. This is why it's important to find something new and updated in order to actually get attention!  Besides it's an excuse to let my alter-ego out for a few days!

JL:  What is the message you are trying to give with the accepted photo?

NP:  I tend to use a theme of a trapped princess, vulnerable yet intense and strong. This was a concept built between the model and myself.  I really just wanted to wrap Saran Wrap around someone. I bought the wheelchair over the summer and really wanted to use that, so we combined the ideas and this spooky, yet sexual image was born.

JL:  How do you find your models for your images?

NP:  As I mentioned before, I started using close friends and family to do standard portraits. Once I felt comfortable directing someone and was comfortable with the outcome of my images, I would ask anyone I met that I thought had a unique look. I am not afraid to tell a pretty woman on the street that she has a great face or the stud at the local coffee house that he has a nice ass. I am comfortable with who I am and what I want from my work, but I also love meeting and working with new people.  I am never afraid to just ask someone about it. I also look professionally online at modeling sites, and I have had referrals through friends that have worked out great. I am always open to anyone wanting to be creative with me!

JL:  How do you make them feel comfortable in what may be uncomfortable or compromising positions?

NP:  If I knew the answer to this, I may have talked a millionaire into marring me years ago.  Truthfully, I hope that it's because I am open and professional about what we are doing and working on. In the end, it's always about the final product and the mere fact that it's art. I want the models to have fun and enjoy the process as much as I do, so if they aren't comfortable, I'm not comfortable.  I also try to tell amazingly funny or embracing stories about my own life or dance on occasion.  It helps.  I kid you not.

JL:  Where do you get your inspiration, or ideas, for your photos?

NP:  I dream about photography.  I look at other photographers' work every spare moment I have.  I look at fashion and graphic design.  I look at textures.  I mostly combine other ideas together to come up with something new and with my own twist on it.  I want to explore some of the same ideas that others have. My challenge then is to come up with new ways to make those ideas interesting.

JL:  What advice would you give to other aspiring photographers?

NP:  Start working with people with whom you enjoy spending time; those who bring positive energy to your life.  Never be afraid to try something new and always push to be different, never settle.

© Julie Lake, 2010