Nikola Tamindzic – 43 year-old American photographer – makes a living out of shooting people fucking New York City

Nikola Tamindzic took some of the photographs we published along with MacKenzie’s interview. His new book, called Fucking New York, is on the way, and Nikola loves to talk about it. Guess what? We loved to hear about it!

PS: You can get the book on May 16 exclusively at!

Interview by Ian Lid. Photographs by Nikola Tamindzic.

(c) Nikola Tamindzic /

(c) Nikola Tamindzic /

Ian: First, can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?

Nikola: New York based artist, Lower East Side forever, chosen medium photography with occasional excursions to other media. Grew up in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, went through the entire civil war over there in hiding, managed to claw my way out in 1999, moved to USA. Fucking New York is the upcoming book and travelling art series. Calendar says book comes out on May 16. And here we are.

How old were you in 1999?

26. 27 by the time I arrived in the States.

Would you say your experience of war has a big impact on your work as an artist? Maybe “Fucking New York” is your way to say “Make love, not war” or am I completely wrong?

You’re not wrong. Art world is generally driven by rich people who see authenticity in ugliness — a form of poverty tourism, if you know what I mean. I grew up in a wonderful country that turned unspeakably ugly within just a couple of years, and I have no time for ugliness — I have a lot of time for authenticity, but not ugliness as some sort of proof of authenticity. Not for wallowing in ugliness, in any case. And regarding authenticity, as recent death of David Bowie reminds us, authenticity comes in many forms — including superficially fake ones.

Wow, I couldn’t agree more. Being a magazine about sex, of course we’re interested in your Fucking New York series of photographs. How did the idea come to your mind?

It was a shower moment. I’ve been taking photographs that pointed in the future direction of Fucking New York for a couple of years before I started, but the concept wasn’t there — just a strong pursuit of a particular kind of image. And then you get lucky, and have a great idea in the shower, along with that exact title. Short, simple, and to the point. I jumped out of the shower to check if was available — and it was! I couldn’t believe it. I then checked other cities, thinking it might be fun to do a sex travelogue of sorts — and all other cities I checked were already taken. And yet Fucking New York was available — I just had to take it as a sign that it’s the right idea.

Event Stoya is fucking New York!

Even Stoya is fucking New York! – (c) Nikola Tamindzic /

Lucky you!

Anyway, back to your question: there’s an ongoing story about living in New York that is so common, it was even mentioned in Sex & the City: when you live in New York, you’re in a relationship with New York. All other relationships take the back seat, and your most important one is with the city itself. And it’s a weird, abusive, intoxicating, wonderful relationship. So for me, the idea started there — you fuck people you’re in a relationship with, but if the city is your primary relationship, how do you express that? What would it look like, feel like?

How do you find your models?

The photos get around, so people contact me because they love the photos and want to be a part of the project, or they’re friends who are interested in working with me. The really interesting thing that I found out when I started the project was something I didn’t predict, actually. The original plan was to involve men equally. And you can just see it — it would be wonderful. But men were either not interested, or quickly lost courage. It was strange. And then someone forwarded this documentary to me, called “Married to the Eiffel Tower”. Have you seen it?

No. Should I?

It’s an interesting, mildly disturbing film. Basically, there’s a community of people who fetishize buildings & other objects to the degree that they consider themselves in a relationship with them. What was interesting was that the entire community was 100% women. So, once I found that out, I could see why the way men think of their own sexuality wouldn’t fit Fucking New York — and women LOVE being part of it. It just makes sense to women in an intuitive way. But it definitely makes you think about differences on deepest levels of male vs. female sexuality.

Did you discuss this with some women?

Yep. I discuss everything in detail with every model before we shoot. Every Fucking New York situation is based on sexuality of each individual model — we talk a lot, basically.

I was gonna ask if you plan a lot in advance, but I think I’ve got my answer. But do you mostly take inspiration from the model’s fantasies, or do you include your own fantasies?

Initially it was my fantasies, as the series was finding its shape, but after that it was based on exchange between me and the model. In a lot of ways, my job is to translate someone else’s sexuality and desires into world of Fucking New York.

(c) Nikola Tamindzic /

(c) Nikola Tamindzic /

Must be fascinating. So, no problem to make your model get naked in the middle of the street?

I don’t have to make anyone do anything.

Sure, but you know what I mean…

I only shoot people who are excited to do that. Or anxious about it, but in a good way. There’s a mix of anxiety and excitement, always.

That was my question.

Some people are truly exhibitionist — they prefer shooting in Times Square, the more people around them the better. Some prefer a quiet street, but there’s still a lot of excitement to being right there on the street.




Yes, a lot of pictures are taken in broad daylight. Any incident to report?

Basically all of them are taken in broad daylight. It’s the world of Fucking New York, it’s always 1pm, frozen. No incidents. If we were doing this interview in person, I’d happily show you outtakes, so you can see people walking next to the model, not giving a shit. New Yorkers take particular pride in not being shocked or surprised by things like that. They just shrug their shoulders and keep walking. Same with celebrities, which is why Bowie lived here for example. Sorry — I have Bowie on my mind a lot these past couple of weeks.

You chose the right city, then. After all, New York is the only city where women can walk topless, as far as I know. By the way, I’m currently listening to David Bowie!

What are you listening to?

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust…

Very good.


In any case, regarding public nudity, toplessness is legal in NYC, but full nudity isn’t.

You’re half-way there, that’s not so bad.

But even with fully nude girls, I had a couple of incidents where a cop car would pull up behind my back, the girl would freeze, I would turn around and see the cop giving me the thumbs-up. Says a lot about NYC (laughs).

(c) Nikola Tamindzic /

(c) Nikola Tamindzic /

Do you plan to do a Fucking New York by Night, after that?

There’s some night stuff for Fucking New York, but I already did New York by night series 10 years ago — I started my career in nightlife photography, and got a lot of acclaim for that (including, for example, this). And that’s actually a big part of why Fucking New York is frozen at 1pm — I already did the night work. Here’s a preview of that old stuff. I’m gonna do a book of that work in 2024, on 20th anniversary: “Contemporary nightlife photography started in New York with Nikola Tamindzic in early 2000s.” — No Credentials documentary. So, no Fucking New York at night (laughs)!

You really plan ahead, don’t you?

Well that’s an easy plan.

Do you make a living out of photography?

Yep. I’ve been a pro since I moved to New York.

Were you already a photographer in Belgrade?

Nope. Never touched the camera. It was not a good environment to explore arts. Education was excellent, especially in arts, but the environment was just not good. Once I moved to the States, everything changed. The US is an extremely welcoming and nurturing environment when it comes to art. Or rather, when it comes to helping with those initial steps of developing yourself as an artist. If that makes sense?

Is it the US, or New York?

I lived in Chicago 2000-2004, and it was true in Chicago too. I think that’s the case with most metropolitan areas in US.

We got in touch because you took pictures of Mackenzie. How did you guys meet?

My friend Lena Marquise mentioned that she’s doing a video project for this new magazine about two months ago. Lena and I shot Fucking New York soon afterwards, but I also checked out the magazine she told me about, and liked what MacKenzie was doing. I’m established here, but I feel that it’s absolutely important to contribute and do things with people who are trying to do something interesting, no matter how established or new they are.

That’s definitely a good thing.

I loved what MacKenzie was doing with her magazine, so I offered to do a little Fucking New York spread for her issue #2, and in the process we became good friends. Yeah, it’s a good thing. People quickly get to this position of everything being about money — and I understand why that is. And when it comes to commercial work, yes, absolutely, I charge a lot of money for my work. But when I see someone doing something cool, I’ll do it for free, as a way of support, because I had that kind of support when I was starting out, and it’s a way of paying back. And it’s also good to just do things for the pure love of it. You guys are doing something cool, so it’s a pleasure to share work with you. I can’t wait to shoot Fucking New York with MacKenzie, though. That’ll be interesting…

Can’t wait either!

I have questions for you.


It’s still regarding what we talked about, so. I’d love to hear your first impressions of Fucking New York — more in the sense of what kind of story it put into your head.

Hmm, let me think about that.

First impressions. Wish I asked you that before we talked!

My first impression was probably “wow, that’s rock’n’roll stuff”.


I remember of a picture of a girl lying under a hanging phone, and I thought you had a great sense of staging. Some pictures are quite hot. I’m also a photographer, so my vision is probably disturbed by that fact.

Sure. Ok! Thanks for that. Just curious, because your impressions can open the door to different conversations.

(c) Nikola Tamindzic /

(c) Nikola Tamindzic /

One thing I like about your photographs is the fact that models really seem to be into the moment. I mean, you can often really think they are fucking the city. It’s not just ordinary nude pictures of blasé girls.

YES. And thank you for that. That’s the most important bit. We’ve all seen tons of nude girls posing on rooftops of New York, looking at the camera looking bored.


And what’s really important for me, is the feeling that the girls are just there, as if camera is not there at all. No posing FOR the camera — rather, just having an experience, no matter how beautiful or awkward it turns out to look like. There was an occasion where an experienced model was grinding against this beautiful black wall — but because she’s experienced, she kept pushing her ass out to give me a wonderful ass angle. And I was like — no no no, fuck the WALL, not the camera. And her butt kind of tightened, and was more like a man’s butt, you know what I mean? But the photo became something else — from a photo designed for man’s arousement, it became a faux-documentary photo of a woman’s sexuality.

Being a street photographer not asking permission before shooting, I could not agree more!

There’s also the whole voyeuristic angle — Fucking New York is largely reverse voyeurism. Normally, we try to peek from the outside in, to look behind the windows into secret lives. In FNY, what’s behind the windows is boring — that’s where camera is, in the position of some 9-5 worker having lunch. It’s outside that the exciting things are, out in the open and free. (Which is why often it looks like camera is several floors above the model, far away and looking down.)

But you were several floors above, right?

Yep. And what’s wonderful, of course, is that to people walking on the street, she just looks like she’s genuinely fucking New York. (Because there’s no camera.)

Oh yeah, people must have been surprised!

You can imagine! So, for a lot of New Yorkers, fucking New York is real (laughs). And I like it to feel that way. You’ll see no one ever looks at the camera — the camera is just never there.

That’s right. Caught in the act!

Exactly! Your street style would translate great to something like Fucking New York, by the way. I can just imagine a lot of your street photos with a person like that hidden somewhere in the background. I like your work — those public toilet photos are creepy as fuck, though, in a good way.

(c) Ian Lid –

(c) Ian Lid –

Thanks! I keep looking for an idea to mix street photography with something else, so maybe your idea is the one. Not sure I would find models as easily as you here, but that might be worth a shot.

You’re in Lyon, no?


I wonder what it’s like. I haven’t had much problem finding models in Paris, but I imagine Lyon is a bit harder. Although, the reputation of French women is as pretty liberated. Is that accurate?

Actually, I didn’t really give it a try. And about French women, I’m not so sure, it’s hard to be general as it depends on where you are. Even in a city like Lyon, it’s very diverse.

Of course. You should give it a shot in any case, definitely. I’d certainly love to see what you do with mixing documentary photo and nudes. Or not even nudes, just sexuality in general.

I’ll work on that. Thank you for the ideas! I’ll keep you posted when I do.


Thank you for this interview, Nikola. Bye!


(c) Nikola Tamindzic /

(c) Nikola Tamindzic /

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