Senior Profile: Nora Nord is telling women’s stories with her traveling camera

Senior Nora Nord poses for a portrait in London, UK on April 28, 2018. Courtesy Daniel Tollefsen

Ask Nora Nord what she’s working on right now, and you’ll get a list so long that you’re bound to forget the beginning by the end. The senior from Oslo, Norway seems to have a hand in every type of visual project possible.

Nora arrived late to our meeting, immaculately dressed with a camera in tow, because she was conducting an interview for a photography project on local women veterans and lost track of time. She told me she was headed into a weekend of filming for a narrative short written and directed by Jeremy Gumener, one of her friends and collaborators. Although onlookers may see her purposefully darting around campus and assume she knows exactly what she’s doing, Nora Nord from Norway, a moniker she’s embraced, is a self-professed scatterbrain whose passion for photography grew out of a desire — or perhaps a necessity — to keep track of her life.

“I was 15 when I got my first camera, and I have a really bad memory, so I always said I want to capture every moment so I can remember it when I’m older,” she said. “Ironically, the computer that had all my photos from my childhood crashed, and I didn’t have any backup systems. So, haha, joke’s on me, I don’t remember anything.”

Despite developing her interest in the arts from a young age, Nora didn’t come to Tufts to study at the School of Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) or take visual theory courses. Like most people on campus, she came to enjoy a liberal arts education and study international relations (IR). And like so many of us, Nora quickly found her place in the classrooms and communities beyond the IR program. Although her major in history and minor in economics are in line with her original academic interests, Nora admits she would have done things a little differently if she had to start again.

“I would never have taken economics. I hate econ,” she said. “I never got anything out of my classes. I would have filled those with film or philosophy courses, maybe finished my FMS [Film and Media Studies] major.”

A perpetual collaborator, Nora also expressed regret over not becoming more involved with other campus artists from the beginning of her college career.

“Tufts to me was a place that I grew into, rather than out of,” she said. “And a lot of people I’ve spoken to have felt the same way. And I wish I had more time to explore my creative side here, work with more women on film and photo projects. I’m sad it took me so long to find that and tap into that here.”

Throughout her time at Tufts, Nora has shared her work and personal travelogue across many mediums: Polykhroma exhibitions, multiple Instagram accounts and a fashion blog abandoned for a more minimalist portfolio site. These means of connecting with family, friends and a wider audience have evolved alongside Nora’s interests; her fashion work and profiles have transitioned into telling the stories of others, particularly women, from all industries and walks of life.

“I just love working with other young women,” Nora explained. “I think fashion has been a way for me to connect with women who are creating things and want to be entrepreneurs. At the same time, I recognize that there are important stories out there, and fashion, as fun as it is, doesn’t really fulfill me.”

Despite her go-with-the-flow attitude, Nora is sure of her goals and the kind of effect she wants to have on the world around her. At the intersection of her interests in fashion and social justice is her project to document young women as they are, free from the male gaze that has dominated film and photography for so long.

“What I want to do is make women feel good about themselves by photographing them as they are,” she said. “If I could change fashion photography in some way, that would be amazing. I just want to see realness and real people. Because real people are beautiful.”

She continued, “I think being at Tufts was really integral to that development. Studying IR and history and social justice issues and everything. My goal is to use the skills that I’ve acquired here to do tell those stories.”

Nora is a photographer, but like so many creatives at Tufts, she can’t be pinned down with a single label. Her burgeoning interest in the moving image has lead her to take film courses and start production on both narrative and documentary shorts.

“Film is kind of the next step,” she said. “My dream would be to make a beautiful documentary.”

As for immediate next steps, Nora is packing up after graduation and moving back to London, a city she fell in love with during her year abroad. London’s vibrant art scene and young communities make it the perfect place to be a freelance photographer interested in collaboration, she feels. As for making a living?

“I’ll work on personal projects, be a bartender, work part-time, find internships … whatever pays the bills,” Nora laughed.

Graduation may mean parting from a community of creative people she’s just beginning to know, but Nora is confident that distance won’t prevent future projects from emerging naturally and spontaneously among Tufts alumni.

“I’m optimistic and excited to see what’s to come,” she said. “I very much plan on getting in touch and making things with the creative people here in the future.”


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