If Nicole was a Spice Girl, she’d be Sensitive Canecr Spice.
Name: Nicole Arné Kondra
Astrological Sign: I’m a cancer to the bone. I once read a really in-depth summary of a ‘typical’ Cancer and it was me, down to the physical description. Creepy!
Where did you grow up? I was born in Palm Springs, but I mostly grew up in Joshua Tree. A few years in Oregon, a year in LA. I’ve always liked moving around, but somehow I ended up back in the desert. Its home.
Where do you reside today? Palm Desert, for now.
How did you get into photography?
My grandpa was a photographer for the L.A.P.D. (he’s the guy who shot Marilyn Monroe when she died!) and my dad always had a camera with him wherever he went, so I definitely grew up around photography. I went to art school but studied design, and didn’t really get into photography until a couple years ago when some friends and I started up the Coachella Valley Music Collective. We hosted open mic nights and put on shows in the valley, and I started taking pictures just for fun, and it just kinda came naturally. I was just using a little digital point and shoot and had no idea what I was doing, but it sparked something, and I’ve been learning as much as I can ever since.
What do you like most about photography?
I love the spontaneity of it all. You can spend a lot of time and energy setting up your shot, the right lighting, and making sure everything is perfect…and sometimes its necessary, but I’d much rather take a chance and shoot from the (literal) hip. When you relinquish complete control, you might end up with some imperfections but you also end up with a lot of great little surprises too…and finding those little surprises when you finally sit down to edit or when you head into the darkroom is my favorite part of the process…lame as it sounds, its all very magical.
What in the Coachella Valley inspires you?
I remember the lesson in science class about deserts; about how, despite extreme temperatures and an unforgiving landscape, species of plants, animals, insects…and even people, not only survive, but they thrive because they’re able to adapt. When its 120 degrees in August and everyones left for the summer, life doesn’t stop, it just kind of goes underground for a while. You adapt, because you have to.
Who in the Coachella Valley inspires you?
Anybody who lives here who manages to thrive and grow. I’ve met so many talented people who have started something great only to leave and take their talents with them. I can’t blame them, but the folks who turn their talents into something great despite living in the middle of nowhere in extreme temperatures and unforgiving landscapes are the ones that inspire me the most. Also, my friends, because they believe in me when even I don’t believe in myself. Aw, sappy.
Your photography is so delicate and peaceful, does this reflect the mood and setting you were in when you took each photo?
It’s really interesting that you pointed that out, I’ve never thought about it that way. I tend to think of myself as kind of an anxious, impatient person, so yeah, I guess it does reflect the mood I’m in when I’m taking pictures, because photography has a very calming affect on me, even if its just for the split second that my lens is open.
Do you have a preference: “people” or “places”? And what is the difference between the two in your opinion?
I used to get really bored when thinking about landscape photography, but I’m warming up to it more and more. I definitely tend to photograph people more, because I love people and I love how a single photo can say so much about a person in only a fraction of a second. I always end up finding really cool landscapes or locations but I always find myself thinking how great of a shot it could be, if only there were some people in it.
What type of machinery do you use?
I use a Canon 40D mostly, but I use any kind of camera I can get my hands on. I’ve got a lomo, a polaroid, and an old kodak instamatic, a canon AE-1, and some weird knock-off soviet rangefinder that someone left at my house. We used to have this really cool twin-reflex camera in my house when I was a kid, but for some reason I took it in the pool and destroyed it. Sorry Dad. I’ll never live that one down!
Who are some of your favorite photographers?
In no particular order; Andy Warhol, Jeff Wall, Andreas Gursky, Sandy Skoglund, Annie Liebowitz, and Anne Geddes. Just kidding.
List your top 5 people you would love to photograph:
I can’t think of 5, but I do wish I’d been able to photograph my grandma before she passed away last Christmas. She was gorgeous.
List your top 5 places you would love to photograph:
India, Tokyo, Thailand, Moscow, Wal Mart.
If someone is just starting out in becoming a photographer, what advice would you give them?
I’m just getting started myself, so all I can say is take your camera everywhere with you and don’t be shy to use it. I’m still working on this myself, but I’m convinced its the key. And don’t get intimidated by people with better gear than you. A camera is just a machine.