“How can you be considered a great artist if you’ve never been told you were crazy?”
If by crazy, you mean walking into the woods while the sun is setting on a crisp 32 degree day, spending hours taking photos of two women (one of whom was nude) all without being paid–then yes, Nik C, you are CRAZY.
But isn’t that the point? According to George Bernard Shaw, the goal of an artist should be to “create a definitive work that cannot be surpassed.” So how can we create this work if we don’t try something a little crazy?
Nik C (Nik Collins) of Nik C Photography, is a very talented photographer from Philadelphia who, judging by the photo shoot below, is a little throwed.
But beyond the craziness, Nik C is a mother who’s determined to turn her passion into a way of providing for herself and her daughter. And fortunately for Nik, she isn’t alone. Amber Myers (AmBe), Nik’s good friend and co-conspirator, is also a crazy talented artist in her own right. AmBe is a professional cosmetologist who also assists in just about all photo shoots with Nik C Photography. The two women make a very strong team and have put in enough work to offer some very valuable insights.
CC: Describe the moment when you two decided that photography/cosmetology was something you could take seriously.
NC: I always knew I didn’t want to work for someone else forever. And I knew I was into fashion, I knew I was into photography. I’ve always loved photography and one day I was on the phone with Dom and she said “why don’t you just do it!” “Just quit your job and do it!” lol…I said, I CAN’T QUIT MY JOB!? lol I mean, I need benefits! So I decided to start doing it part time and I loved it. It’s my passion and hopefully the studio will be done soon and everything will go well.
AB: I knew that I loved to do makeup when I would look at all the magazine ads and I would see all the makeup, how flawless they looked, how amazing they looked and how everything just went together–the photography, the makeup, everything. And I would just go into stores and watch people do makeup and pick up some tips and tricks. And since I’ve done nails for so long, it really helped me blend colors and it gave me a good eye for everything. And just…when I picked up the brush, I never wanted to put it down.
CC: So speaking of tips and tricks, what are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to cosmetics?
AB: Well you shouldn’t cake on your foundation, that’s for sure lol. You shouldn’t wear your foundation without a primer for sure. Um…prime everywhere actually–eyelids, foundation etc. You don’t want to make someone look like yourself. You know what you want for yourself but to find what someone else likes for themselves is hard.
CC: Nik, how did you develop your own photography style?
NC: Well I’ve always liked art so when I look at a picture, it’s more than just a picture. To me it’s my way of painting. So because of my art background, I’ve been able to develop my own style.
CC: What are some things a photographer can do to be taken seriously?
NC: The main thing is…if you want to be professional, you have to perfect your craft so you can turn it into your profession. And just have your own style. You can use other photographers as a guide but definitely have your own style and make your decisions within your own style.
CC: Describe a time when you got frustrated to the point of almost quitting.
NC: I felt like I was ready to be done when a lot of people would come to me and try to get free shoots. That was irritating to me because if I’m going to do a free shoot, it’ll be because it’ll benefit me and the people around me.
CC: So how do you get away from that? How do you get people to respect that this is your profession and not just a hobby?
NC: You just have to be assertive. If you’d like to be paid in your profession, you have to set prices and not come down from them. A lot of people will say, “Oh wow, you’re going to charge me this for that? It’s just a picture.” They don’t understand that photography is a lot more than just a picture. It’s an all day task. A lot of photographers are hands on, which I am, so I don’t just sit back and wait to take pictures. Then there’s a lot of sitting at the computer for hours, staring at pictures and editing things that people think are already going to be perfect when you take the picture. So to stay on a professional level, just stay assertive and make sure your client understands that there is a lot of time and money that goes into what you’re doing. There’s a lot of work invested in it and this is the amount I would like to be paid and don’t bargain. The second you start to bargain is when you start to lose respect.
CC: You two have dealt with several models. So what characteristics make a great model?
AB: Strong features. It’s amazing if you have strong features. Also somebody who knows how to work their face and is not afraid of what you put on them. A great model has to be a blank canvas.
NC: A great model has a positive attitude. Divas…you may end up getting the worst shots. A lot of photographers complain about divas and they won’t want to continue taking pictures of them. They think they have it all together so you don’t need any more shots. Take a couple shots, bam, whatever, we’re done. And positive attitude also means no complaining. You can make a comment but don’t complain about things you can’t control.
CC: Ok, so we talked about the obstacles but what about the joys? What keeps you going when things get tough?
AB: To see the finished product. When we collaborate, we see the finished products in our heads like our heads are connected and when it comes out it looks amazing. To see the finished product lets you know that all your hard work and getting two and three hours of sleep wasn’t for nothing. It was for everything that you wanted it to be for. Thinking about one day seeing your work in a magazine keeps you motivated.
NC: Yes, definitely. Thinking about the future and knowing that if you work hard it’ll happen.
CC: Perfect segue into the last question. How do you see your future unfolding?
AB: I see myself being a famous makeup artist. I see me and Nik collaborating until the day we retire. We’re going to remain friends and good partners also…and my lipgloss business.
NC: No longer working a nine-to-five. I definitely want to retire in photography. I want to give back to the community and I just want to be comfortable–bills paid. And am I allowed to talk about my relationship with God? lol
CC: Lol…You are always allowed to talk about your relationship with God. We love God lol.
AB: Yes, He’s everything. He’s the reason we’re able to do this. It’s a blessing to have a gift because we’ve never been to school for this but we have a God given talent to do it and the fact that He trusts us with it is everything.
NC: Yes, and it’s really an escape. There are so many people who hate their jobs and it’s like God has truly blessed us with something to use as an outlet. It’s our chance to be free and do what we want.
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(Posted by Garron Gibbs)