Photographer in Style: Interview with Nona Arabuli

I have met Nona Arabuli a few weeks ago when in desperate need of a good photographer I asked around if anyone could suggest someone talented with fresh view on things. After I have heard her name from several sources I called Nona and asked if she would be interested to meet and talk about a possible project. While we were talking on the phone, my first impression was that she must be a very positive and sweet person. She has a friendly voice and a happy attitude that makes things somehow flow easy around her. When I met her to do our first photo-shooting session, the question popped up in my head: who will be the model of the shooting here? She looked gorgeous in high heeled boots, red lipstick, not thinking of “dressing for the job” but “dressing for who I am”.

Behind the scenes: Nona and I on Instagram

Things worked out pretty well (check out herehere or here) and I am glad to have Nona Arabuli – owner, photographer and stylist of Nona-Photography – taking part in the LOOKbook shootings for SILKsofine. Let me introduce you an ambitious, energetic, creative mind behind a Canon EOS Mark III via the following interview.

Dear Nona, tell us a little bit about yourself!

I was born in Tiflis, Georgia. Thanks to my aunt, 13 years ago my mom and I were able to move to Germany. She started to work as a botanist – a job she was looking for. Life in Georgia has shaped me. I grew up in a family of artists. When I was a child my uncle, an illustrator and designer, taught me about light and shadow. My other uncle was an architect. He presented me me spatial thinking and different perspectives. My grandpa, an author, told me a lot about humanity and his experiences. In the mid 90’s life in Georgia became difficult. Everyone was fighting to survive. I saw a lot of misery and crime. Even as a child I observed and tried to understand life and people. Then in Germany I learnt the language very fast and with a clear ambition in mind, to become an artist myself, I tried to accomplish every step that leads to it.

What is your professional background?

Starting in 2008 I got my photography education in the Photo+Media School in Kiel. I gained my practical experience in a photo studio in Flensburg. Parallel I have studied to be a make-up artist in Hamburg because I realised that styling is necessary for portrait photography. I am self-employed since 2012.

NEWYORK INDEX bynona cropped

Beside of photography you do make-up and styling as well, practically you provide a full service. What do you like the most?

(she laughs) It’s like asking a mother of two which child she loves more. I love to combine these two professions. The project as a whole is a lot of fun. When I do the make-up I don’t think of taking a photograph but when I’m done I want to hold onto my work and take a picture of it. It’s an interplay. However I also get booked for diverse jobs. Sometimes only as a photographer and sometimes only as a make-up artist. Anyway I hear this question quite often.

What does photography mean for you?

To me photography means a combination of psychology, experiment and creation. It is completion and perfection. An alternative way of holding on to life.

Who inspires you?

People inspire me. Individuality. Different characters and their behavior. Also other great artists and photographers inspire me like Peter Lindenbergh, Giovanni Gastel, Albert Watson, Russel James, Andy Warhol and many more.

As you and I were already working together I can tell from first hand that you are a very dedicated and passionate person – professionally as well. Where do you get this passion from?

Thank you very much. Passion means love. The love to create art works is my biggest passion. That’s what I live for.

Before/after: make up, styling and shooting by Nona

How would you describe your “photography style”?

I am a very versatile person. It is recognisable in my style and my work. My style is an experiment. A depiction of beauty and character. I rediscover myself in every single project. I test and learn. I am satisfied but not completely. A bit of dissatisfaction is necessary to make progress, to improve.

What was/is your favourite project?

My favorite project at the moment to work with a woman, a medical miracle, who has beaten cancer. She inspired me a lot and filled me up with positive energy. I was allowed to capture her experiences and emotions in photographs. It was a very emotional and realistic work with her. The photographs are very different from my previous works. This is not an experiment, it is real life. The pictures will soon be published as a book.

Which is your favourite photo you have taken? Why is this your favourite?

I think there is no photographer or artist who likes this question. (she laughs) I am very sorry, I can’t give you an answer to this. There simply is no favorite child.

Is street style photography different than your other works?

Street style photography is a genre of its own. I am glad that I could explore it myself in New York. It emerges out of pure observation. You feel like a sniper in constant search of a perfect point or perfect picture. In street style photography you must search for a single section out of a huge scene and all the impressions surrounding you. The perfect section. It’s hard but it is so much fun.

What kind of photography do you find the most challenging?

The biggest challenges to shoot food and metal. For example when it is about shooting food, it’s not staged the way you would eat it. When working with metal or anything that shines and reflects you must be very accurate. Perfect lighting and a lot of patience.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I love this question. I have very clear goals and visions. I think I can slowly understand life. My motto is, I try to phrase it carefully, that I am in charge of my own happiness. It is possible. Everyone has the chance but many can not see it. I am very thankful for everything. I have faith and hope. The most important thing is diligence. Often people tell me that I work so much, but this is not true I don’t “work“. I want to expose what otherwise would never be seen without me. I want to hold on to life via my photographs. I don’t want to change the world but archive it. I have a lot of ideas and visions. I do not see small successes as doors but as stairs and there are many more steps ahead of me. My dream is, to have my photos published in VOGUE – than I could say I really accomplished something. (she smirks) I would love to found an agency that combines all: concept, styling, photos, editing, presentation etc. I want more jobs abroad like in New York, in London or in Paris. Where I see myself in 5 years – as far on top as possible. (she laughs)

Sounds wonderful, wish you all the best to reach your goals! Currently where can people find your works?

Works are exhibited in Phono (Schiffbrücke 50, 24939 Flensburg), Raiffeisenbank (Süderstraße 77, 24955 Harrislee) or Europahaus in Flensburg. Current works can be also seen on Facebook:  Nona-photography-Fotografin-Visagistin .

Thank you for the interview and see you on our next shooting 😉 !

Fotoshooting in London
Photographer in process – from Nona’s Instagram feed
Make up artist in process
PicMonkey Collage
Make up, styling and shooting by Nona

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PicMonkey Collage NONA

Translation: Isabell

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