Copyright © 2018 The Nilsens Way

The beginning of me

My name is Magdalena Nilsen. I am almost 40 years old. Geographer by education, photographer by profession. I live in Oslo, Norway with my husband.
I was born in Poland, in a small village located about 100 km north – east of Warsaw, close to the town Ostroleka. Geographically the village belongs to Masovia region while culturally to Kurpie region. Growing up in the countryside was wonderful but also very challenging. My upbringing had a great influence on my later education and my current profession. The beauty of the village-life appeared every day from sunrise to sunset, the night sky full of stars or the snow-covered trees. However it hasn’t always been rainbows and sunshine. All the experiences from my childhood have made me the woman I am today: 100% artist, 100% business woman. I have learned a lot growing up in the rough environment like trusting my intuition, so necessary in the business world. 

High School and Studies

My farm was and still is very small. Now it mostly consists of a little forest. Earlier it was a corn field, a yard where my house stands and a vegetable and fruit garden. We didn’t have any grassland which was a real bummer. My neighbor, however, had one which I used to run around in with my dogs and sitting there among forget-me-not flowers. I loved it. It gave me some sense of freedom and was my favorite free time activity. 
We had a big, old apple tree in the fruit garden. Some of the branches grew so that people could sit on them. Very often I used to sit there watching trains go to and from Warsaw and was dreaming that one day I would travel on these trains. 
It became natural to find a high school where the environment in different forms was in focus such as: botanic, physics, ecology, meteorology, geography. At that point nature meant everything to me, particularly one of its faces; the mountains. 
Nobody was really surprised when I applied for the environmental studies at Warsaw University. I must have been the happiest person on Earth when I was accepted because I was studying something that I loved. The six years of study including the gap year which I used for traveling, was the happiest period in my life, so far. Studying nature, meeting incredible and passionate fellow students and teachers, showed me that it’s important to do what you love in life.

Norway

Norway was suppose to be a small break from my student’s path. After finishing my bachelor studies I decided to start traveling around the world. I took a one year break from my studies and was ready to earn money for that expensive extravaganza. Somebody at my department told me one day that Norway is a good place to earn good money really fast. 
I earned the money, I traveled to South America and with time Norway actually became my second home. For 7 years I’ve lived in Oslo, together with my Norwegian husband. However I had a chance to travel across Norway including my geographical studies at Svalbard University.

The Artist

As far back as I remember I admired everything that was made by the human hand. It’s common in Poland to have open air markets once a week in the villages. Here people would sell everything, from food to clothing. There I used to join my mom every week to purchase daily food products like eggs, fruits, veggies, bread etc. I couldn’t pass by the stands with willow baskets without buying one. I could have hundreds of them at home. 
I have always been passionate about handicrafts and wanted to have an income from using my own hands and my boundless and colorful imagination. But how to combine my environmental education, working at a desk or traveling with being an artist? These questions were a nightmare for a  long time. Eventually, after many misunderstandings and much pain, I got the answers.

Photography

With time my love for handicraft found the outlet by decorating gingerbread cookies with royal icing. The cookies looked really nice but when I started taking photos of them, the pictures looked kind of ugly. I understood that I needed to learn how to take better food photos. Therefore I stared following some interesting and talented food photographers online. That’s how I met a fantastic female food photographer who, as it turned out, was also teaching the profession. I was in seventh heaven and that was the beginning of my new life. 
Many months have passed since that workshop that took place in the vicinity of Warsaw. I am happy where I am today. I constantly develop my style, invest in the best tools to be the best food photographer for my clients.

My Style

I photograph everything related to food like raw fruits and vegetables, warm dishes, beverages, desserts and products. Everything what I photograph we later eat. No food is wasted in my household. I don’t use any chemical boosters for the food to look more delicious. I don’t use presets in post-production. What is visible on the finished picture is what’s in the frame while photographing. My style is very simple, logical, transparent and light. My photos show food as it looks in nature. Therefore quite often a dirty carrot or other fruits or veggies are presented in my photos as well as a flower of a particular fruit or vegetable. 
There are many people these days who don’t know for example where milk or honey come from. Sad!  Some time ago there was a commercial of milk (the biggest company in Norway producing milk) on the Norwegian TV. Two girls chill out together. One is working on her laptop while the other one is drinking a glass of milk. All of a sudden the one with the glass asks the other one, where does milk really come from? Maybe it is just a commercial but the truth is that we live in a society where understanding and recognizing nature and its products, is sadly unfamiliar. That’s why environmental education is so important these days. The nature around us is our food and our true medicine. Do we all know what a linden tree looks like? Or how wonderful it’s smells? Or when does it bloom? Or what is produced from its flowers? 
Everyone who sees my photos, can without any doubt say what has been photographed and also without any doubt, say that the food is not plastic. 
Nature plays a very important role in my work. Before I start a session, I usually go around my garden as well as along my street and pick some greenery which might be useful during the session. Very often I bring different kinds of grass, flowers or parts of trees which I use for styling. 
I like the rustic style and most of my props are meant to enhance it. It reminds me of my childhood where my mom use to have all sorts of jars, weights, coffee or pepper grinders.

My Studio

At the moment my studio is a small part of my living room. Taking photos doesn’t have to require huge space and huge amount of money of which I am a living proof.

Say Hello

If you enjoy my presentation, my life philosophy but first and foremost my photos, I warmly invite you to contact me with both questions and suggestions.