(Photo by David Mora/Via @davidnola)
From the very beginning, David Mora has been using his photography to uplift his hometown. The Instagram ambassador, better known as David NOLA, started trying his hand at photography shortly after Hurricane Katrina. His intention was to help create new photos for people who had lost their own keepsakes to flood waters.
In the nearly 13 years since, Mora has grown into a spokesman of sorts for his home. His colorful photography of places in New Orleans serves as an unofficial tourism ad for his favorite place on Earth to his over 20,000 followers.
We sat and talked with David to get an idea of how he became one of NOLA’s biggest boosters.
How did you come to be such a big proponent of the city?
I grew up here. I was born here. I went to high school here. I did go away for college to get my Bachelor’s at Southern Miss…I was trying to get back. I took a job in Jackson, but I was in New Orleans every weekend. Once I finally made it back to New Orleans, I made it a bit of a personal goal. I said ‘I’m never leaving again and I want to showcase what’s so great about this city.’
How did you become interested in photography?
A lot of people who went to Southern Miss with me are from New Orleans. I was really, really fortunate during Katrina not to have lost anything. But a lot of my friends lost everything they had. All the pictures and memories they had were gone. So I started taking photos as a way of making new memories for them. I was taking pictures as kind of a way to heal…
It was something so bad, but it gave me the passion to do this and help heal my friends who really did lose a lot.
When did you start with Instagram?
I had a job in Savannah, working for [Savannah College of Art & Design] in their e-learning department. Instagram was just launching and becoming a thing. But going to Savannah and being in such a creative environment really sparked my use of the app. I had an account before the one I have now, doing the same sort of thing in Savannah.
How did you start posting New Orleans photos?
I work very close to the French Quarter and I’ve never been the type of person who takes a long time to eat. So, I’d have these hour lunch breaks with a bunch of extra time. I just started walking around the Quarter and snapping pictures of what I thought was interesting.
Every time I walk in the Quarter, I’d see something new. Plus, I like the houses, the bright colors, things I think of as uniquely New Orleans…
I kind of just put up what I like and if other people like it, that’s great. If Instagram went away tomorrow, I’d still do this.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood to shoot in?
I like them all but my bread and butter is the French Quarter. I live in the Lakeview/Lakeshore/West End area but if I had to pick it, I’m kind of partial to the Quarter. Even growing up here, I didn’t really start going into the Quarter until I was older.
What do you hope people get out of your photos?
My goal is getting people to come here. I want people who have never been and are thinking about coming to see it and be convinced. I’ve kind of branded myself as a New Orleans ambassador. Whatever I can do to convince them to come and have a good time and then keep coming back, I’ll do it.
Check out more of David’s view of the city on his Instagram @davidnola.