Nina Zimolong

A fashion portrait of a woman in a long dress with exaggerated sleeves striding towards the camera across an arid landscape with a staff in her hand. Taken by Nina Zimolong on a Canon EOS R5.

An image from fashion photographer and Canon Ambassador Nina Zimolong's 'I am Woman' shoot, which took place during a sandstorm in the very dry terrain of Tankwa Karoo National Park, between South Africa's Northern and Western Capes. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM) at 200mm, 1/2000 sec, f/2.8 and ISO 200. © Nina Zimolong

Model: Marie-Noelle Graobe

Nina Zimolong is a fashion, commercial and fine art photographer with a love of storytelling and a knack for creating striking and memorable images. She has been a full-time professional since 2019 and in that time has established an enviable reputation that has gained her work from a range of leading editorial and commercial clients.

Nina was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and loved photography from a young age. "I was always the one with the camera, taking photos of friends and putting them on social media," she says. After finishing school, she did a business management degree, with majors in marketing and entrepreneurship, then moved to Europe.

Nina worked in marketing while she was overseas, but her bosses knew that she had a passion for photography. "I was travel blogging for fun on the side, so they asked me to shoot images for the app," she explains. "I saw my images on iTunes when we were featured as app of the week, and that inspired me to pursue a career in photography."

A headshot of Canon Ambassador Nina Zimolong looking at the back of a Canon camera.
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Specialist areas: Fashion, fine art

Favourite kit: Canon EOS R5
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
A model, shot from the side but with her face turned towards the camera, wearing an elaborately folded white headscarf and a bright blue dress. Taken by Nina Zimolong on a Canon EOS R5.

Shot in a studio, Nina's 'Blue' shoot was inspired by the world beneath the ocean's surface. "The image is an open book; I want the viewer to come up with their own story about it," she says. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM lens at 70mm, 1/250 sec, f/7.1 and ISO 250. © Nina Zimolong

Model: Lesedi Seleke

A model, wearing a bright blue satin dress and a huge wide-brimmed hat, with her arms around a large shell. Taken by Nina Zimolong on a Canon EOS R5.

"This was the first shoot I did and I just wanted to create something beautiful," says Nina. Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM lens at 70mm, 1/250 sec, f/7.1 and ISO 250. © Nina Zimolong

Nina returned to South Africa and did a short course but also got lots of practical experience. "At the same time, I was networking and contacting every photographer I could and asking if I could assist them," she says. "I just wanted to develop my skills and set myself a goal for that first year to focus on learning." In the early part of this new career Nina worked in a variety of genres, including events, food photography, weddings and sport, as well as fashion and lifestyle.

Since then, through a combination of talent, hard work and determination, Nina's career has gone from strength to strength. She has worked with a range of designers, had her work published online and in print, shot covers for fashion magazines and collaborated with international brands.

Two women in long, white flowing robes stand facing each other with their foreheads touching, in a portrait taken by Nina Zimolong on a Canon EOS R5.

Nina says her 'When Two Become One' series is "about twins and the love they have for each other, the strength they have together." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 168mm, 1/3200 sec, f/3.5 and ISO 100. © Nina Zimolong

A woman in tribal dress walks across the desert holding a spear in a portrait taken by Nina Zimolong on a Canon EOS R5.

This was Nina's first fine art shoot. "I'm really tired of the way women are portrayed in images looking scared or intimidated," says Nina. "The intention [with 'I am Woman'] was to show a strong woman, to say, 'I am a woman, I am a warrior, I can do anything'." Taken on a Canon EOS R5 with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R and a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 200mm, 1/2000 sec, f/3.2 and ISO 100. © Nina Zimolong

Nina's most memorable shoot so far was an international campaign for MAC Cosmetics which involved flying from Cape Town in South Africa to Nigeria for a 30-minute studio shoot with singer-songwriter and actress Tiwa Savage. "It was the craziest experience I've ever had," she says.

In the future, Nina aims to develop her fine art fashion portfolio. "I want to take my work to the next level," she says. "I'd love to have an exhibition that showcases my work worldwide and shows that fine art photography can be beautiful and uplifting. I want people to look at my work and get goosebumps."

What, for you, makes a strong image?

"When you look at an image of somebody, the first thing you see is their eyes. If a photographer really connects with a model, you can see it in their eyes – it opens up a whole new side of them that nobody has seen before. So, for me, it's all about really connecting with the person you're shooting."

What advice would you give someone starting out in photography?

"When you're starting, you need to assist as much as possible. You need to focus less on earning money and more on learning skills and networking. Knowledge is more important than salary. Make a name for yourself as an assistant, because that work leads to actual jobs."

In your work, how important is in-depth knowledge of how your camera operates?

"It's really important to experiment with light and understand your camera. You need to thoroughly know how it works, to go through your menu settings and try to learn it all by heart. If you don't understand what you're shooting on, it's going to hold you back."

Should aspiring fashion photographers shoot their friends?

"No, don't shoot your friends. Everyone does that, but your friends aren't going to get you anywhere. You need to reach out to people who are trying to be models, because you'll get much better results."

One thing I know

Nina Zimolong

"Being successful in photography is about selling yourself. The best advice I can give is to treat every single job like it's a million-dollar one. That, for me, is the most important thing because small jobs lead to bigger jobs. There are so many photographers in the world, and you need to do everything you can to make a name for yourself."

Instagram: @nina_zimolong

TikTok: @ninazimolongphotography


Nina Zimolong's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs.

Canon Ambassador Nina Zimolong's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.


Canon EOS R5

Whether you shoot photos, video or a mixture of both, the EOS R5's uncompromising performance will revolutionise your creativity. "The technology behind the camera is amazing and I rely on it a lot," says Nina. "I especially love the eye focusing and the high-speed shooting when there's lots of movement."

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Designed to perform in every situation, the EOS 5D Mark IV is beautifully engineered and a thoroughly accomplished all-rounder. A 30.4MP CMOS sensor delivers images that are packed with detail and low in noise, even in bright highlight and dark shadow areas.


Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM

A 50mm f/1.2 prime lens for supreme sharpness, plus remarkable low-light performance. "I love shooting with the lens wide open and blurring the background. It's just a great little lens to have," says Nina.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM

For beautiful flattering portraits with razor sharpness and superb low-light performance, the RF 85mm F1.2L USM offers the ultimate in creative potential. "I love shooting portraits with this lens and take the majority of them at its widest aperture," says Nina.

Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM

This essential lens boasts a fast aperture and image stabilisation plus a Nano USM motor for silent focusing. "This is my favourite lens," says Nina. "If I want to keep things simple on a shoot, I'm happy to get everything on this lens."

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

A fast-aperture telephoto zoom lens engineered to perform in the most challenging conditions. Nina says, "I like this lens because I often shoot way back from the model as it makes things more relaxed. The speed of focusing and clarity of the results are really great."


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