Dora Kontha

Where are you from and where do you reside?
Currently I live in Copenhagen, but I was born and raised in Budapest.
What are some themes you find recurring in your pieces?
Nordic landscapes, undiscovered spots, deserted places, and wild nature are the main subjects of my photographs. I find tranquility in mountains, the ocean, fjords, national parks, lava fields, and in rough nature in general, so for me it comes natural to immortalize these unusual forms in my work. By preserving these moments, my aim is to observe the essence of what I experience in my surroundings and this is also my way of holding on to these special places.
Since these features are all natural, geological formations, what, for you, defines an unusual form?
My definition of an unusual form probably has to do with something intangible related to my lifetime fascination and curiosity for Scandinavia. Growing up in a capital in an urbanized environment while reading books about geysers made me really mesmerized by far away, Nordic places with all its typical characteristics. So basically, for me, unusual forms are all these characteristics that are reminiscent of my childhood, assembled from books and documentaries.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
As I am shooting solely with traditional film cameras, the most difficult part definitely is not seeing the result right away and also the limitation to a certain amount of frame. So it’s all about the here and now, as there is no chance for corrections or second takes, if something goes completely wrong. But that’s the beauty of analog photography and I am absolutely fine with that because it forces me to be present and even more focused when capturing a moment.
Do you find that your location strongly influences the direction of your work? Where do you feel you create your strongest work?
Locations unquestionably influence my work. Getting lost and discovering new sceneries is all I want to do. Places like Iceland, Norway, Lapland, or The Faroe Islands are beyond inspiring and the variety of these landscapes are truly fascinating for me.
Are there any aspects of your process that are left to chance?
Definitely, but unpredictability is actually a good thing and I incorporate chance in the creative process. The final result can always be unexpected, but for me it’s more of an opportunity instead of a barrier. Noise, grain, color mistakes, and light leaks are essential part of film photography and they make the pictures authentic and even more real. For me, film photographs are natural, pure, and honest.
Does your day job influence your work in any way?
Yes, I would say so. I am working as a digital designer at an international advertising agency, meaning that I am designing user interfaces, websites, apps, and layouts with absolute perfectionism. In contrast to my profession, film photography is a release, as I can express myself in a more personal way. In this case, I do value imperfections and accept the photographs as they are without feeling the urge to heavily manipulate them.
"For me, film photographs are natural, pure, and honest." — Dora Kontha
Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?
In feelings, places, songs, and people.
How important is spontaneity in your art?
Significantly. Giving space for spontaneity, freedom, opportunities, and experiment is a key in what I do and I never plan my photographs ahead. That obviously makes the whole process less structured, but more unforeseeable and exciting.
When did you begin your current practice?
It all begun when, a few years ago, I put my hands on my grandma’s old Praktika. I still remember how fascinated I was by the mechanism of that camera and the whole process of developing film. My enthusiasm and excitement are still as high now as years before, when I am taking a photograph.
Do you have a mentor?
Although I wouldn’t call them mentors, but there are some highly qualified people in my acquaintance whose opinion is always appreciated and valuable for me. Anders Ingvartsen is definitely one of them.
What tangible objects or intangible moments are you most interested in representing through your works?
The feeling of wanderlust, the desire for adventures, and the relief of being alone in nature.
Are you influenced by any author or non-visual artist?
Erlend Loe’s novels - especially Naiv.Super and Doppler - are simply magnificent and I never get tired of reading them. Without revealing too much, the moods and messages he tries to convey is something that really speaks to me. He also wrote the screenplay for North, which happens to be one of my favorite movies.
Where would you want to travel next?
Everywhere. It really depends on my current disposition and desire for exploration.

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