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Nabil Elderkin
Education Port Macquarie High School
  • Photographer
  • film director
Years active 2002–present

Nabil Elderkin is an American-born Australian film and music video director and photographer, who is of Iranian and American descent. He is mononymously credited as Nabil in his videos. Elderkin has directed videos for musical artists such as: Dua Lipa, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, John Legend, and Foals. Born in Chicago and raised in Australia, he is most recently based in Los Angeles, California.

Early life

Elderkin was born in Chicago, Illinois, to an American father and an Iranian mother. His family moved to Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia when he was age 2, and he became a naturalised Australian citizen. He studied at Port Macquarie High School and was a keen sportsman, particularly an avid surfer. His initial experience of photography was through photo shoots of the surfing scene in Australia.

In early 1990s, his parents separated and his mother returned to the United States. Soon Elderkin, just 17 at the time, joined his mother in Chicago. He studied photography and for some years photographed music bands and concerts and Chicago-based DJs.


His big break came when he befriended the then relatively unknown rap artist Kanye West. Elderkin had heard a Kanye West mixtape and had tried to contact the rapper by looking up The website came up as unregistered but available for registration, so he bought the domain name on an impulse. Three weeks later an executive from Roc-A-Fella Records contacted Elderkin to tell him the label had just signed Kanye West to a multi-album deal and wanted to know how much he was asking for the domain name. Elderkin wasn't interested in a payment for the domain and preferred to transfer the domain name provided he could meet the new artist and do a photoshoot with him, these images went on to be the artist's first publicity photos. John Legend also happened to be at the photoshoot which led to the two forming a relationship, and future video work together where Elderkin introduced Legend to his future wife, Chrissy Teigen.

Nabil Elderkin's work has appeared in many platforms including advertising, magazine editorials and covers, artist branding, music videos, books, album covers and photojournalism. His clients list includes, amongst others artists, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Frank Ocean, Nas, Bon Iver, The Black Eyed Peas, K'naan, James Blake, Seal, John Legend. He has worked for record labels Capitol Records, Universal Music, Sony, Warner Bros. print and broadcast media Billboard, Rolling Stone, Vogue, MTV, Rizzoli, as well as fashion personalities like designer Jeremy Scott and model Heidi Klum, the charity Oxfam and manufacturers Coca-Cola, Foot Locker, Nike, adidas, Vans, Billabong.

Elderkin also photographed Kanye West's biographical book Glow in the Dark documenting the Kanye West's "Glow in the Dark Tour" in 2008. His endeavour into photojournalism in war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo through co-operation with Oxfam worker Claire Lewis resulted in a critically acclaimed exhibition at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2007. He also has directed numerous films for Frank Ocean, such as Pyramids, Novacane and Swim Good.

His feature-length debut is the award-winning documentary film Bouncing Cats about a breakdance workshop for teaching b-boy culture to Ugandan disenfranchised youth. The film was financed by Red Bull through its Red Bull Media House.

In 2019, he completed his first narrative feature Gully starring Amber Heard, Terrance Howard, Jonathan Majors, and Charlie Plummer. Gully debuted at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

He is also a co-creator and producer of the new documentary series Beat Nation. The series is also produced by Mattia Bogianchino and Addison O'Dea.


  • 2010: Bouncing Cats
  • 2015: Captureland
  • 2019: Gully



Year Project Ceremony Category Result
2012 Frank Ocean, "Swim Good" MTV Video Music Awards Best Direction in a Video Nominated
Best Male Video Nominated
Kanye West, "Mercy" Best Hip Hop Video Nominated
2010 Bouncing Cats Newport Beach Film Festival Outstanding Achievement in Documentary Filmmaking Won
Urbanworld Film Festival Best Documentary Feature Won
Bahamas International Film Festival Best Documentary Feature Won
DocUtah Audience Favorite Won
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