MEET. Nitashia Johnson

© Nitashia Johnson

Meet APA | San Diego member, multimedia artist and educator from Dallas, Texas Nitashia Johnson.

Do you have a favorite podcast?
At the time my favorite podcast is the African Folk Tale on Spotify. It’s so good and full of storytelling. 

Who are your top 5 favorites that you’re following on Instagram?
I would say that those people are:
@tobishinobi – Photographer
@Sidgejay – Animation and Performing Artist
@notaliyahcydonia – Painter

I’m a multimedia artist and their work inspires me so very much.

What 3 words describe your photography style?
Deep, powerful, and peaceful.

What do you listen to when you’re shooting?
I’m very eclectic so it ranges from r & b, rock, pop, country, jazz and so on. Music can really change your mood and push you to create. I freaking love it because it inspires me to get going.

What inspires you?
My lil big sis and the deep love she pours out to me. I’m also inspired by her and the hard work of others. The good energy found in them is really amazing. I’m inspired by all who love and support me.

What’s your favorite thing about being a photographer?
Meeting so many great people. They all matter. Another thing is I get to create peace in such a crazy world.

When you aren’t making photographs, what other pastimes do you have?
I love working on creative videos, being around family, connecting with nature, and drawing. I like to enjoy the little things, that’s what life is all about.

Describe your daily or weekly work habits. (Pre-Covid and currently)
Whew, busy! My days are full of creative things. I teach African American art and photography at the university level once a week. I’m also a full time graphic designer and photographer. This consists of creating for a Dallas university and shooting for news outlets such as The New York Times, Dallas Morning News, NBC and the Marshall Project. During the weekdays  I also set aside time to support my new non-profit The Smart Project and to work on my photographic book series, The Self Publication. 

More work has come to me and I’m learning how to manage my time. I’ve started to really pay attention to what I take on just to make sure I can handle it all. By doing this It gives me time to experiment with other things. I just finished a great residency which forced me to understand myself and how I should plan my time moving forward. It’s ok to be busy but it is also very important to set aside some me time. This reduces the chance of you disappointing yourself and others. Take care of you first and the rest will follow.

Who were your biggest influencers?
My teachers, those in my family who stepped up to support me during the tough years of youth, and the universe. My youth was affected by many things, my parents were not around and that can make things hard but with absence comes love and I thank the people who came in my life to help me when I felt so lost. Because of the help of others and the energy from our source of creation, I’ve grown into the artist and woman I am today. Thank you all.

What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out?
Stay focused and in due time you’ll shine like wine. 

What have been some of the highlights and challenges of your career so far?
Confidence was a challenge. Navigating this world as the person I am, as a black person has been a challenge, a mental one. It was hard understanding who I was at first and because of that I found myself hurt from interactions or past trauma. My highlights deal with me overcoming and sticking with what I loved so much. I’ve met all kinds of people and I’m just happy that the good vibes of those who meant well of me overpowered any of the negative. I matter. 

What were you doing before you became a Photographer?
I was acting solely as a graphic designer, grad student and teacher. everything just pretty much came together as I continued my journey. My visual art led to my graphic design work, my design work introduced me to photography, and now my images have set up my wedding with video.

If you weren’t a Photographer, what would you be doing?
I would simply teach. Teaching is power and it is a great gift to give  the world. You can really make a positive change in someone’s life, I know the strong good teachers I had in my life did.

What do you do when you get stuck?
I go out in nature or listen to music. I rarely get stuck because my mind is always going and because of that I keep a notebook near me. Nature is my medicine

What is your best advice for your peers?
Never give up. There is only one you and that happened for a reason. Your purpose on this earth is different from the others around you. Love yourself, be kind to your soul. Create from the core and never compare yourself . Happiness is understanding that you matter and in your journey you are right where you are supposed to be.    

What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back 10 years? 20 years?
This too shall pass and to let go of what is hurting you. You have work to do kiddo so keep your head up and fly high. You matter in this world.

What is a photographer’s role now that technology has made it so much more accessible to the masses?
I feel that a photographer’s role is to show the beauty in the world that can be so cold. The strong will and passion can inform many and create unity in the areas most needed.

What do you see yourself doing in five years?
Running The Smart Project, loving my family (with an additional new little human), and still creating in a way that  shows others how valuable they truly are.

To view more of Nitashia’s work you can follow along here.