Nikoline Tengler, Travel Blogger & Photographer
The hunt for the perfect photo is an ongoing process these days, where most people always have some kind of camera with them. Time to change lenses (literally) and go back to the good old days of analogue photography where you take the time you need for each photo!
With a big passion for photography and a love for cool, vibrant, urban areas, Nikoline Tengler began her journey of blogging in 2015. She started her first blog with her boyfriend Toke, and now she's ready to present her brand new travel blog Breakfast In Airports.
In our series about Cool Copenhageners, we invite you to meet interesting people from Mermaid Stories' hometown who tell us their stories and let us take a glimpse on their work. We have been fans of Nikoline's lovely photography style for a long time, and are very happy that she wanted to share her passion with us.
To begin, can you tell the story about your blog and how it came to life?
I have had a passion for photography as long as I can remember, and already as a teenager I carried a small digital camera around trying to capture the moments I was in. I had also been wanting to start a travel blog for a very long time, and create a space for all the images I had taken, especially from travels. I even registered several domain names, but at the same time I was pushing the project for some sort of perfect occasion. This perfect occasion came when I had two months spare time before going to Barcelona for an internship back in 2015. After a real push from my boyfriend, I spent the two months fighting Wordpress, getting to the bottom of a thousand stored pictures and structuring the material into blog categories, and then… DepartDeux was born.
First, the blog was supposed to be in English, but we ended up deciding to write in Danish. I basically grew up in Germany, so when I moved back to Denmark after 16 years in Germany, my Danish writing skills were lacking big time. The blog became a creative outlet for my photography passion, and at the same time served as my personal Danish class. This way, I was forced to practice and to think about how I wanted to tell the stories behind the pictures. Quite a challenge, but it has been worth it.
Today, DepartDeux is two and a half years old and has opened up a lot of doors.
"I have had a passion for photography as long as I can remember,
and already as a teenager I carried a small digital camera
around trying to capture the moments I was in."
Nikoline started her blog DepartDeux with her boyfriend Toke. Together they travel, take photos and share stories about their lives in Copenhagen.
What are your favorite things about blogging?
That is a good question. After two and a half years I am still super excited about blogging. My favorite thing is still taking the pictures, edit them, and create collages of pictures and transform them into a blog post (sometimes I can spent a whole weekend doing nothing else). I love the fact that I have a place to gather all the things that inspire me. This is why I am expanding my universe internationally and created another blog (this time in English), called Breakfast in Airports. The new travel blog is even more minimalistic and focused on the visual aspect.
But back to the question: The blog gives me the feeling of having a positive impact, especially when I can inspire others. It means a lot that you can see you that your following is growing, and people value your (travel) advice and engage in your stories, which brings me to a different aspect why blogging is great: You meet a lot of interesting people, who speak your (creative) language and see the world as you do. They do not necessarily have to be travel bloggers. I have also been approached by people reading my blog or following me on Instagram, who want to experience “my” Copenhagen or meet up for photo walk. This is one of the biggest compliments I have gotten so far and reminds me why I love to do what I am doing.
Like us, it seems that you have a weakness when it comes to Copenhagen, which is also where you currently live. Why is Copenhagen so wonderful in your eyes?
True, I have a huge crush on Copenhagen. Maybe I am biased, because I was born in Frederiksberg, but how can anyone not love Copenhagen?
Copenhagen is truly wonderful for numerous of reasons. To me, the most imminent reason is the quality of life, how we are able to use the city, being outside and moving around freely. After I lived in Shanghai, where traffic and smog would dominate your everyday life, I highly value cities where you are free to move around, and easily can get from A to B.
I simply love how green the city is, with beautiful parks, surrounded by water and with an easy access to the countryside. Nearly everybody I know enjoys outside activities, such as running, mountain biking and kayaking. Furthermore, we are able to cycle to all corners of the city within roughly 30 minutes. Sometimes, bike traffic can be as stressful as car traffic, but it is still nothing compared to Shanghainese traffic. And how wonderful is it that bikes are by far the most preferred transportation mode in Copenhagen?
The last thing I want to point out is the design aspect. It is such an integrated part of our identity in Copenhagen, and the focus on beautiful, aesthetic things are immense. The city certainly satisfies my own need for beautiful things. You find beautiful interior stores, cool design markets, grand design hotels, and neat decorated hipster cafés throughout the whole city.
"After I lived in Shanghai, where traffic and smog would dominate
your everyday life, I highly value cities where you are free to move around,
and easily can get from A to B."
Copenhagen rooftops shot by Nikoline Tengler.
Are there any specific streets or buildings in Copenhagen that are special to you in some way?
The past two years I lived in Nørrebro. Strolling through this multicultural neighborhood is one of my favorite things to do on a sunny Sunday, and most likely I will come by Elmegade, which is by far one of the most charming streets in Copenhagen, also one of the most photographed.
To those who have never visited Copenhagen, which top five places would you recommend people to go to?
My five go-to places with friends visiting me in Copenhagen are:
- The Botanical Garden and the palm tree house.
- Christianshavn with the colorful houses and the small canals.
- Kødbyen preferably on a weekend in order to experience the food market, otherwise for wine and dine.
- Rundetårn is one of my favorite touristy places to show - I love the view!
- Jægersborggade, with all the small shops and delicious coffee and foodie places.
Left: One of Nikoline's favorite places, the Botanical Gardens of Copenhagen. Free entrance and close to Nørreport Station. Right: Beautiful sunset over The Lakes (Søerne) in Copenhagen.
What is the most difficult when taking pictures in an urban area? And is there any place in particular which is hard to photograph?
What makes taking pictures in an urban area a challenge, is the constant movement of scenery. Unless you shoot a lonely building, you will always have people in your pictures. This can of course be a good thing, as it makes your picture authentic. But for instance, when traveling to new cities, there are certain things you just have to see, photograph and cross of your bucket list (even as a travel blogger, you are also just a “tourist”). But often, those exact pictures don’t turn out great. It is often super crowded, and the picture you end up with, a million others have taken the same before. So I would definitely say, it is also very hard to get good pictures of touristy places. Nyhavn is great example. I think we all tired of the same “Nyhavn” pictures floating around on Instagram.
You travel a lot, and make city guides on your blog. What city has positively surprised you the most so far?
Hong Kong is probably one the city that positively surprised me the most, and also a city I would love to return to very soon to see if I still feel the same about it. I admit that I knew very little about Hong Kong before my travel companion and I decided to visit the city during our semester abroad in Shanghai. We only knew that the weather in Hong Kong was supposed to be better than in Shanghai, so we found some cheap tickets and off we went. As opposed to Shanghai, we found ourselves in a city where people wait in line to enter the metro, no one spits on the ground and no one would take pictures of us. It was absolutely pleasant to be in Hong Kong. Even though Hong Kong can be smoggy too, all the green spaces and the beaches make up for it. But for me, Hong Kong was pure heaven due to all the rich photography opportunities. I would photograph temples, modern buildings, views, boats, funny random things, weird local markets, crowds of people, tea shops amongst other things. Now I get itchy feet all over again.
"Hong Kong is probably one the city that positively surprised me the most, and also a city I would love to return to very soon to see if I still feel the same about it."
Which city is the number one on your go-to list, and why?
That is a really tough question, as I have an emotional attachment to a lot of cities. But there is one city I keep returning to: Barcelona.
I have done language courses and an internship in the catalan capital. Barcelona is a very vibrant city with a great atmosphere. In Barcelona you have perfect climate, stunning architecture, a huge creative scene, mouth watering food, excellent wines and cavas, tons of live-music places, richness of history, many beaches, warm-hearted people and many local festivals all tied together in one place. Do I need to say more?
On your blog you have a category called “Analog”. What type of camera and photography is your favorite?
Last year, for my birthday, my boyfriend Toke gave me this beautiful Nikkormat analogue camera from the 1970s. I was in love - not only of the beautiful shapes of the camera, but also of the idea behind it. We live in a world where almost every single moment is snapped with your phone, while at the same time digital photography allows you to take tons of pictures of the same thing within seconds - and we do so. Sometimes, I come home after a photowalk and look at the pictures I have taken and I have taken pictures of the same kind of objects out of various perspectives. Analogue photography makes you slow down, and think about what you actually want to photograph, and how you want to frame it. Also, it takes time to develop the picture, you cannot see it instantly and decide you need to capture more.
BUT if I should chose to live with only one camera I would still go with my Canon760D - it does make life as a travel blogger easier, and it is not as cost intense as developing films.
"We live in a world where almost every single moment is snapped with your phone, while at the same time digital photography allows you to take tons of pictures of the same thing within seconds - and we do so."
You do not just go to cities and urban areas, but also take pictures in the rural parts of Denmark and other countries. What is your favorite setting to do photography?
I think I prefer to shoot in urban areas, but it really depends on my surroundings, and what inspires me. By living in Copenhagen and Barcelona, I have learnt that I love to stroll around, observe the bustling of the city and try to capture those details you won’t notice when you are on the go. But sometimes, I also love to get away from the city, be close to nature and breath in some fresh air. On trips to West Jutland my analog camera has come into play. It somehow fitted the setting taking more minutes to stand with the camera and taking it slow. Also my iPhone has taken some great pictures in Jutland. Therefore, it has a lot to do with my surroundings, my mood and the story to be told through the lense.
And lastly, can you recommend three of your favorite Instagrammers that are very good at capturing Copenhagen or other cities?
@Nasualua - My “go to” for pictures from Barcelona and Lisbon. She has a clean and bright look on her Instagram feed.
@kseberlin - Simply love her feed. You will find a lot of cool Copenhagen facade shots, as well as interior stuff.
@Alonavibe - Huge girl crush. This girl has some serious talent, and I love how she captures Copenhagen in her own style. Furthermore, she takes some really interesting portraits.
Thank you so much, Nikoline!
Interview by Mermaid Stories
Photos by Nikoline Tengler