Getting Ready With Rico Nasty
It has been a while since I had the urge to pick up my camera. I took sometime away from creating images because it began to feel as though I was just a cog in someone else’s machine. The day-to-day work became more about creating opportunities for others, while leaving me drained of energy to put towards my own creative needs. I gave myself time to ask questions and answer honestly about why I chose the camera and what do I want to use it for? What excites me about creating images, and why?
I learned that stepping away from my craft was not me doubting myself, but instead it was a necessary pause that helped me slow down and acknowledge how I am contributing to the visual conversation, whether I am taking photographs or not. I have accepted that there may sometimes be moments where I need to pause and take time away from my craft. Moving through feeling deflated and lacking the desire to create, I am learning that my gut feeling will always be there to push me to reach out and grab what I know is meant for me.
I’m a photo editor by day so my desk top looks like a pinterest board. I’m constantly looking at photographers work, searching for that perfect feeling that a photo can emulate and match it with a story. I also assign photographers to cover events and festivals from London to Barbados. I enjoy connecting with creatives around the world. But it can sometimes feel as though you are driving someone else’s boat.
Music is therapy for me. So, when my awesome co-worker Nandi Howard asked me to photograph Rico Nasty for an editorial feature, I felt a jolt of excitement as I enthusiastically said “YES” before I could even fully grasp the idea of what I was saying yes to. All I knew was that I was saying yes to something that got me excited to create again. This time doing it for myself, for my own needs. I needed to start creating images again. I was ready to feel the rush of adrenaline again, when my intention and intuition collide. The urge to pick up my camera was back. All I needed to hear was, Music. Rico Nasty. Artist. This is what I want to photograph.
I first experienced Rico Nasty’s music when on her track ‘Rage’. I was hooked! The metal rock, rap vibe vibrates through you as you pound to the beat. It’s a perfect track to listen to when you are in a don’t f*k with me today mood. I loved the way Rico challenges her vocals to make weird, strong, strenuous sounds. Her self-expression is non-negotiable, and I love to see that kind of energy in a black woman. Being afforded the opportunity to spend time with Rico in her bathroom at The London Hotel while she prepared for her Saturday performance at Afropunk Brooklyn, was the catalyst that helped me reconnect with the work I want to create. Rico’s energy was infectious as she discussed her journey as a musician and the reality of her growth as an independent creative black woman. I was inspired and honored to have been able to capture such an intimate moment on camera.
I felt different preparing for this assignment. I was calm, I was beginning to trust myself. I wasn’t fearful of the unknown. I even packed a light bag and I already knew which lens I wanted to use. (if you know me this is next to impossible to achieve. I need what I need okay) I have this fantasy to work like Annie Leibovitz in the 70s. Photographing artists for Rolling Stone and having creative control, collaborating with her subjects and producing iconic images. I want to photograph that wild feeling of pure raw unapologetic self-expression. Intimate, honest portraits of people.
Learning to trust my intuition and surrendering to my process has helped me navigate through my anxiety that erupts when I put my work out there. Relieving this self-inflicted pressure to perform and produce what feels natural to me, is the only way forward. As terrifying as it may seem in the moment, I try to remember to breathe, acknowledge that I may be overthinking, then get back behind the view finder and focus on getting the shot. It can feel overwhelming because of my own expectations, realistic or not. This act of self-sabotage can cripple my ability to do the thing I love or even admit that I am any good at it. Not this time. I wasn't afraid to fail. I was finally beginning to trust my own ability to adjust, to be flexible, to overcome. That’s what I love about music, it helps me visualize what I should be thinking about myself verses what actually goes through my mind.
I always return to music to help me dig up that confidence hiding underneath the surface. Listening to Rico’s track ‘Poppin’ the day before this photoshoot, had me in the mirror like Issa repeating over and over. ‘I’m a poppin ass bitch lemme remind ya!”