Artist by Nature, Photographer by Accident

It’s weird, I honestly never had any intention of getting into photography as a profession, it kind of just happened on accident. I had always liked the idea of photography but I guess it was awoken when I scrolled through images created by street photographers. It inspired me to begin capturing shots with my iPhone. Then one day, I was cleaning out my closet when I came across my dad's old Canon and I haven't put it down since. 

Shooting the streets was my forte, naturally – I was comfortable on that side. I didn’t have to interfere with the subject, just capture it and tweak the tones here and there. Though I had creative directed, styled, produced and assisted tons of shoots in the past couple years, the thought of simultaneously shooting a model made me so uncomfortable at first. But where is the fun in getting comfortable? Would I ever be able to maintain my free-spirit/takes-shit-from-no-one persona by remaining comfortable? No. So, I let go of my skepticism and self-doubt and decided to try it. Instantly, I was in love. It's been inspiring, overwhelming and strange. 

I was talking to a fellow photographer recently and they made an interesting point: As an artist, it’s impossible to stay on that positive wave all the time, no matter how hard you try. That resonated with me. The tides are what make our experiences unique and give us insight on creating, high or low. So what’s the secret? You don’t have to stay on a high or a low to continuously create good work, just be conscious of your experiences, remain willing to work hard and never stop creating.

They also told me that I needed to figure out what distinguished my art from others. As I look through all the photos I've created, I understand: Everything that I create is partly from my own experiences, partly connecting and empathizing with others. I want the models I shoot to radiate as strong, beautiful, edgy but free-spirited individuals. I want them to be raw and unapologetic. That’s how I feel inside and that’s how I want all individuals, especially women, to realize that they have the power to feel. I don’t want to shoot based on trend, commercialization or a forced cheerfulness. I want my work to portray the power of the human body and that no beauty exists without strangeness; each individual I shoot, has their own unique experiences, energy and spirits. It is possible to be edgy and ethereal – there is power in that type of juxtaposition.

Finally, they said that a camera is like a passport to meeting people and going places you would never otherwise be. I agreed, but as the year took a turn for the worse – I felt like my passport had expired forever. My hands and heart were so heavy carrying grief, I couldn't carry my camera anymore. It finally renewed on my trip to Hawaii in July when I got to collaborate with Tiare, Kecia and BJ. Open doors, bare feet, sun kissed skin, reggae blasting with surfboards, seashells and Buddha sculptures everywhere, the instant I stepped foot into Kecia’s home to prep for the shoot, I could feel the great energy we were about to create as a team.  Every time I want to give up on art, the hope and excitement I see in other artists keeps my faith strong. I feel so fortunate to have crossed paths with such genuine and loving souls through my work. I'm so thankful to have picked up my dad's camera that one day. 

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass

xo, Has