I am driven to shoot because it is all I can do. I am obsessed. I have no choice.
California-based photographer Nora Lowinsky describes herself as a dreamer and a romantic, and it’s something that certainly shows through in her photography. Nora’s work – much of which is self-printed – has a hazy, ethereal atmosphere that is simultaneously stunning to look at and completely fascinating. We spoke to Nora about shooting with feeling, collecting art and not having a normal job.
Hi Nora. Tell us a little about yourself - where are you from, where are you based and what do you do outside of photography?
I am bi-coastal by birth, in a way. I was born in San Francisco and as a baby my parents moved our family to upstate New York, then to shortly thereafter to New York City, where I was raised. I returned to California for college and I have been there ever since. Outside of photography, I do a lot to stay afloat financially. Most recently, I have been a rep for a cannabis extract company. I also collect art. I live and work in Oakland, California, but I love to travel.
These images grouped together show that I am whimsical and direct.
When did you begin shooting, what made you start and what has driven you to continue?
I started shooting as a young teenager, but I did not take myself seriously as a photographer or artist until just under two years ago. I am driven to continue because it is all I can do. I am obsessed. I have no choice. At this point, it is also unimaginable that I would have a normal job.
What do you shoot on?
My baby is the Contax T3 I got from my husband when I graduated college.
Over what span of time were these photos taken? What makes them stand out from your other shots?
These images were all shot in 2015, over the span of a year - the year I shot most of my body of work. I like how these images grouped together show that I am whimsical and direct. Those are qualities in my work that my father pointed out to me and the words have stuck.
I am a real dreamer, an idealist and a romantic, and those aspects of my being definitely come through in my work.
A lot of your photography has an almost hazy and dream-like atmosphere - is this something you try to achieve?
I don’t try, but perhaps that is just how I see people and the world. I am a real dreamer, an idealist and a romantic, and those aspects of my being definitely come through in my work.
How do you think your work is affected by sharing it online?
I think my work has an audience online, which is positive. I actually have not had much opportunity to share my work other than online. I print my own black and white photos, so I do own a physical portfolio of those hand made prints, but otherwise my work is not exhibited and my prints have only sold seldomly. Ironically, I have preferred to buy other people’s art than print my own. I am a collector too. So, to get back to your question, I plan on publishing my first book once I have the content, which I am in the process of shooting now. The book will be another place for people to see my work that is not online and that is more accessible than buying prints. I also view self publishing as another art.
I use my feelings to dictate my work completely. I compose images, but there is no good composition from me without feeling behind it.
What do you look for when you’re taking a photo? Are you more concerned with the composition or evoking a certain feeling?
I am entirely concerned with feeling. I use my feelings to dictate my work completely. I compose images, but there is no good composition from me without feeling behind it.
Is there anyone you’d like to shout out?
I would like to say congratulations to my friend Brooke Nesbitt, a subject of mine, who is walking the catwalk in NYC for fashion week. I am so very proud to have shot her and excited that her modeling career is taking off. Not only is she a beautiful subject to behold, but she has an even more beautiful soul. I want to shout out my bff in all things photo, Haley Golden, who is working in Oakland as well. The composition of her photographs is truly singular and stunning. Watching her fan base grow has been such a pleasure to behold, especially since we started pursuing photography professionally at the same time. Also, my friend, photographer Isabella Rozendaal, who is Dutch and Brazilian. She recently did an expedition deep inside the Brazilian Amazon to document an indigenous tribe. The images and her storytelling are fascinating. I love to support other women in the arts.