We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristin Cofer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristin, career-wise, where do you want to be in the end?
I hope to continue connecting with people and making magical images with them until the very end. I’ve always said that I would love to have a coffee table book someday, even if it just sits there gathering dust. I also hope to inspire others. Hearing people tell me that I’ve helped them in any way is what keeps me creating.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I think I am here on Earth, during this time, to visually document people. Generally it’s artists, musicians, designers, and all other “outsiders” who are drawn to working with me—and I with them. Even though I’ve done photography most of my life, it hasn’t been easy figuring out how to make it a full-time job. This was the first year that I was starting to feel financial security in the jobs I was getting, and then we entered into a global pandemic. For the first six weeks of shelter- in-place, I was really depressed and didn’t know what to do. Then my mentor, Nick Fancher, asked me to sit for a virtual portrait. I rarely go in front of the camera, but I said yes because I admire him so much. The experience was so therapeutic, and I loved the results so much that after a few weeks, I decided to try this technique too. Creating virtually with folks in the last month has felt like therapy, as with each subject, we first sit and talk about our combined experiences during this uncertain time. It’s brilliant, and I think that even when “regular life” resumes, I will continue to do these portraits. I just want the world to know that if you feel unseen, I see you. It’s really important for me to help people who may be generally shy in front of the camera feel good, powerful, and beautiful.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I no longer live in Los Angeles (I’ve moved back to the Bay Area, where I am originally from), but if I were to go back for a visit with a friend, this would be my perfect day: We’d start with breakfast at the Cafe 101 in Hollywood. I was first taken there by the band The Black Ryder, and it has always been a favorite spot. It’s got classic diner booths, good music, and flowing coffee. Then we would walk down Sunset Boulevard (I was one of the few people who “walked in LA”) and visit the classic Amoeba (that I heard is moving soon). If we had time, we’d catch a Dearly Beloved Tour, a bus tour that explores “the dark side of Hollywood.” Then we would walk down to Echo Park and enjoy a delicious iced coffee and treats from one of my favorite bookstores, Stories. Afterwards, we’d stop in and say hi to the ladies working at Nooworks, “a women-owned, woman-run business.” Perhaps we then could hop into a car before traffic is bad and head over to Malibu. We would drive along the beautiful PCH and hang out at El Matador Beach (where Jim Morrison once had a famous photo shoot) to watch the sunset. If it’s Sunday, we can go to Silverlake to enjoy punk rock night and cheap drinks at the ChaCha Lounge, and take some pictures in their (still film!) photo booth. Or maybe we could go to Echo Park and catch a show at The Echo. To end the evening, we could go for a late-night snack. I always enjoyed the tacos and horchata from the Tacozone truck that comes every night to the Ralph’s parking lot (a great place to people-watch) in Echo Park.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My grandparents, who were some of the first people who really saw me and noticed my passion. They would let me take photos with their camera and then would always take the film to get developed. I’d go over to their house and there would be a fresh stack of photos sitting on their counter. All the “angel moms” I’ve met throughout my life who’ve supported and helped me. They know who they are. D.R. Wagner, an amazing poet and a professor I had at UC Davis, always told me that I could be both a professional and an artist. Chelsea Wolfe is a musician who I’ve been collaborating with for 15 years and counting. It’s been amazing growing together. We started out being roommates in our early-20s and taking photos in the backyard, and here we are now still creating together. Emma Ruth Rundle is another musician that I have a special connection with. Also, Emily Jane White, Sera Timms, and Kennedy Ashlyn are all strong, beautiful womxn who continue to create and put their voices out into the world. Thank you to Richard Brown, my talented writer friend, who will forever help me tell the world what I want to say. Thank you to the talented photographer Nick Fancher, who has taught me how to create the portraits I always imagined with creative lighting. Thank you to Bailey Kobelin, who has been an “angel sibling” and is always there to assist or help in any way. Thank you to Jill Therrien, your weekly words move me forward and Nicole Smith Levay, your Kundalini teachings keep my brain calibrated. Finally, I send love to my partner, parents and four younger siblings, who were all my first models. Thank you all for your forever support.
(Images from top left to right) (Blue image) Anya in blue (Artist studio image) Manette Rene Bradford in her studio (Blue double exposure image) Musician Shannon Shaw (Rainbow outdoor image) Musician Chelsea Wolfe (Desert guitar image) Musician Emma Ruth Rundle (Outdoor flower image) Musician Emily Jane White (Dark portrait) Musician Kennedy Ashlyn (Lying down portrait) Musician Tara Jane