Nicky Conti: ‘I was so taken by William Klein’s abstract work that I wept’

Artist Nicky Conti tells all in our Q&A

Nicky Conti
Nicky Conti

Nicky is originally from Malta and started photography in 2014 while living in New York. She’s primarily a street photographer who creates compelling narratives and intriguing ways of looking at streets and urban spaces. She often uses natural light to create visual aesthetics and painterly effect. Her mission is to capture and create extraordinary moments from ordinary street scenes. A travel enthusiast, Nicky challenges herself to capture the essence of the places she visits through the landscape of their streets, including those of her home country. Her first solo photography exhibition ‘Memories of My Island’ is currently on display at the Malta Postal Museum in Valletta.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Check my phone.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

I lost 10,000 photos one day as I accidentally dropped a hard drive. I was devastated. In an effort to console me, my dad said; “You’re down, but not out!” That was probably the best advice I ever got; I was sad but not beaten. The photos I took after that incident were much better than those I had lost. Another advice I follow is to have several backups!

What do you never leave the house without?

My Fuji X100V camera, the one I use for street photography. It’s small enough to fit in every handbag I have.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Organized, creative, detail-oriented.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

One of them is happening right now, my first solo photography exhibition at the Malta Postal Museum.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Going through tons of photos on Instagram.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Never shy away from whatever opportunity life throws at you, be it love, work and or a means to channel your creativity.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

A lens for my Nikon, it cost thousands of dollars.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Everything will be just fine; just follow your gut and your heart.

Who’s your inspiration?

I admire quite a few street photographers who inspire my work amongst them Ray Metzker and Alan Schaller.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Uprooting from one country and starting a new life in another. I’ve lived in three different countries; UK, Australia and the United States.

If you weren’t a user experience designer and a photographer, what would you be doing?

Simply traveling and making the most of what the world has to offer.

Do you believe in God?

No, but I do believe in a bigger force for which we need to be grateful for.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Robert Mapplethorpe.

What’s your worst habit?

Eating chocolate or Twistees when I’m stressed.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I never got to that point, but when I get a little tipsy, I become very chatty.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Probably my niece Giulia once she grows up, we’re very similar in many ways.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What music would you have played at your funeral?

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My passport, and my Green Card.

What is your earliest memory?

My parents coming back home with my newly born baby sister.

When did you last cry, and why?

I went to see an exhibition of William Klein’s photography in New York just before I came to Malta for summer. I was so taken by his abstract work that I wept.

Who would you most like to meet?

Someone interesting and worthy to spend the rest of my days with.

What’s your favourite food?

Difficult question, I love many different cuisines.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Kylie Jenner for urging Instagram to stop copying TikTok.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

I would probably go back to the 1950s. I love vintage fashion and style.

What book are you reading right now?

‘The Elephant Whisperer’ by Lawrence Anthony.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

The ability to see in the dark.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Travel as much as possible and fall in love.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

The finalist songs of Ghanja tal-Poplu.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I don’t generally sing in the shower or when working out, but sometimes I like to listen to some good old jazz music.