I’ve been into health care ever since I was in high school. I initially thought I wanted to be a doctor, then a dermatologist, and then a neonatal nurse. I ended up getting into a nursing program and transferred colleges about 3 times due to financial stuff and not really knowing how to navigate the college scene because me and my sister were the first in our family to go to college.
We had lived here since we were 7. I was homeschooled until I was 18. And I went into the college process blind, which led to me changing schools and switching majors from nursing to community health education. At that point I just wanted to finish, get a degree and get out. Which was a sign in its own because I always loved learning.
After graduating, I went on to do a few internships and tried to find a space that I fit in with. But again, I had no idea what I was doing. There were a lot of personal changes and development happening at this point while I was trying to follow that yellow brick road. But that well paved path that society paints for us was not there. I just wasn’t getting the results everyone else was getting out of it.
I remember going into a dentist office for an interview, and at that point all of my friends were well established in their industries, and walking into a sea full of people in scrubs I just had a horrible reaction that I couldn’t subject myself to be in that environment anymore. I didn’t know what I needed and I didn’t consider myself a creative at all since it was so far off the radar.
So I went back to grad school for occupational therapy and the only reason was because I couldn’t find my place in following that path, and thought maybe I needed a masters to get a better job. I just wasn’t going anywhere.
It wasn’t until my mother moved to Florida to start her own business and I would travel back and forth that I realized I love the idea of owning something and at the same time I realized I hadn’t given photography a complete go. I had half-assed photography, just like I half-assed nursing and community health education. I just wanted to be done. I did what I needed to do to get the degree and didn’t have that drive to really look for opportunities for anything I had tried to pursue. Which was weird because I’ve always considered myself as a smart girl. I felt that really deep regret and felt like I was missing a lot of good years doing shit that didn’t mean anything to me. The thing that really got to me was that I was committing myself to a degree and years of my life to something I knew I didn’t care for. I just knew I would be good at it and it could bring income.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I started photography, but I took portrait sessions of my friends and family. And I never brought any income from it. My mind was so overwhelmed with the thought of the creative life, what it was, and I didn’t know what that lifestyle was since I was so used to a 9 to 5. That was my world, and I discovered these amazing photographers who self published their own magazines that went over their journey from their beginnings to where they are now. I read through this process and saw this lifestyle of hers and thought to myself, this is what I want. I want this.
It didn’t make sense that this drove me more than the occupational therapy shit I didn’t even care to do. So from January up until September, while I was still working in the nursing home, I really committed myself to learn about the business of photography. That’s when I saw my interest in it along with the ability to grow with it. So eventually, even though I didn’t understand the business aspect of it, I decided to quit school, left my job a few years later, and did different types of photography.
There was no direction as far as figuring out my brand or personality through photography, but I realized I was only going to get somewhere and be happier if I were working with other creatives, so I dove into the lifestyle and stock photography. I thought that was what I wanted to do, but I was surrounded by overexposed and a different type of mindset who were attracted to stock photography. I felt like people were detached from that type of work and it didn’t have a deeper meaning, it was just producing for the sake of producing and I didn’t want to do that. I realized that maybe I can work with creatives one and one and see what they needed. And that’s what led me to Art and Anthem and working with makers and people who have their own products.
I know the direction I’m going, but I’m enjoying the process as I go since I don’t know what the end result is.
I can never stop and say “I arrived” and I’m still working and still in the process of building. It’s easy to feel like you haven’t moved anywhere, but I’ve changed so much as a person with what I want to do and the confidence level in myself not just with my work, but the way I live my life and the way I interact with people. It’s been very different.
The idea of Art and Anthem began last summer. I got my first client around January. I feel like since then, it’s taken off and even shifted because I wasn’t focusing on product photography. And it wasn’t until this summer I wanted to go in the direction of product photography. I’m really trying to mesh product and branding.
I think the underlying thing for me is that whatever I shoot, I try to make it warm and intimate to have a lifestyle feel to it. Regardless of whom it’s for, I don’t want it to ever come off as sterile or plain. I like building a story behind an image. And that’s what I love. You can look at what other people are working on, and that can take you in multiple different directions because you think that since this already out there, that is the right way to do it. And that’s something you can’t do. I still have an internal struggle with my photography and everyone is allowed to put him or herself out there in a different way and sell themselves in a different way, but that won’t work for my message and me. I don’t want to be just someone who produces content. That’s what I do, but that’s not why I want you to be attracted to me.
Nadeena was a gem when we visited New York. She made her way down from Queens to visit us and chat about all things creative, boys, and crystals. We even walked around the city and found some new gem stones of our own and got to meet with Devan (who she took brand photos for in the past)! Nadeena radiates so much positivity and great energy that it felt like we’ve known each other for much longer. We are so happy to have connected with her and gather some insight and learn more about her craft creating inspirational content for lifestyle brands.