In New York, photographers are a dime a dozen, so it’s no surprise that most of us are too jaded to believe such label. With even tourists toting SLRs, almost anyone with a fancy cam deems themselves a professional photographer. But the differentiating factor between a lens-toting novice and a true artiste? Passion. It is exactly that which drives Nadirah Zakariya, Fashion Institute alumni and purely passionate photographer. two + seven was fortunate enough to catch up with the talented Nadirah, who shared a few thoughts and ideas, along with her breathtaking artwork, with us.
two + seven: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, and what brought you to NY?
Nadirah Zakariya: I am from Malaysia, and my passion in art and photography led me to NY.
2+7: When did you realize you were passionate about photography?
NZ: After high school I spent a year abroad in Japan, on an exchange student program. I remember wanting to photograph and document everything! That was the year I discovered my love for photography.
2+7: Who’s your favorite photographer and why?
NZ: There are so many! But I keep on going back to the same few, and one of them is Sally Mann. Her black and white photographs of her children are so beautiful and moving. It was such a treat to see her prints in galleries, I can stare at them for hours.
2+7: What makes a great photograph?
NZ: I think a photograph is great when it speaks to the viewer.
2+7: What’s your process like? Do you think of a concept first before your photograph or is it an organic process?
NZ: It is definitely an organic process. Of course initially I would start with a concept, but I have to allow myself to be inspired by the subject, location and the chemistry between all these elements.
2+7: Tell me about your experience at FIT.
NZ: I spent four years at FIT and I must say that it was quite positive. I learned a lot about the technical aspects of photography in the first two years and grew as an artist in the last two years.
2+7: What’s the most important lesson you’ve ever learned?
NZ: I think the most important lesson in life is to always follow your dream, and dream big! Where there is a will, there is a way.
2+7: Film or digital? Why?
NZ: Of course I love analog! There is still a mysterious quality to it that just cannot be explained but agreed upon many photographers. I also love digital! Even when I shoot film, I cannot escape the digital aspect of the process- scanning, color correcting, printing and sharing it online. I embrace the digital revolution and I think it is so exciting to see where photography is heading.
2+7: What are you currently working on right now? New concepts brewing in your head you’d like to share?
NZ: I am currently experimenting with video. I just finished working on a film project by Jessica Collins, an LA based artist where I was the DP/Cinematographer. It was a great first experience and I want to learn more about film making and cinematography.
2+7: What do you think is the most prevalent themes in your work?
NZ: I think the theme of nostalgia and liminality is a common thread in my work.
2+7: Tell me about your photography style, how much has it grown since you started a few years back?
NZ: I think my way of shooting has not changed much at all in the last few years. I still enjoy shooting people, I still love natural lighting, and vibrant colors and textures.
2+7: Any advice for aspiring photographers?
NZ: My only advice is to never stop shooting! The only way to find your voice in photography is to continue shooting. Look at what other photographers are shooting and what they have done in the past, be inspired and have fun!
2+7: How does it feel speaking about your work in front of a huge audience?
NZ: I love it! I used to teach arts to toddlers before I came to NYC so teaching is also one of my passions. I love sharing things I know, especially to a younger audience.
2+7: Please tell us about any upcoming shows.
NZ: At the moment I do not have any shows lined up, I am working on a possible show in Malaysia though. I recently had a solo show in New York city though but we just took it down.
Stay tuned for more info, and to learn more about Nadirah, check out her website http://www.nadirah.net