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Connections & Community

Lesson 1 of 1

Connections & Community with Rashida Zagon

 

Connections & Community

Lesson 1 of 1

Connections & Community with Rashida Zagon

 

Lesson Info

Connections & Community with Rashida Zagon

Yeah. Mhm. Mm. Mhm. Yeah. Yeah. Hello, everyone. And welcome to Creativelive. Welcome back to Creativelive. Welcome for wherever it is you're tuning in from all over the world. My name is Ken Klosterman, and I am your host here at Creativelive. I'm coming to you from my home. Like I said to yours, Wherever it is, you are to a beautiful studio in New York City with our guest, Rasheeda Zonagen. And before I bring Rashida on, I want to invite you all to give a shout outs again where it is that you are tuning in from. We love to hear where it is and let everybody else know we are truly a global community. So whether you are on creativelive dot com slash t v and you can click on the little chat icon, let me know where you are. How you doing today? And also, if you are on social media, you can drop that in there as well. We've got Kate and our team who is in there chatting with you all. So before I bring Rashida on, we are super excited here on Creative Live to be partnering with black women...

photographers for a conversation series That is for the month of February in honor of Black History Month. And if you haven't already go check out black women photographers. The website Global Community Database, featuring so many amazingly talented photographers, was started by polio Ringu just about six months ago. And it has taken off so many resources. And again, so many talented photographers like Rashida, who is known as the she dizzy or many different nicknames, as we were talking about earlier. Uh, and I'm just excited to bring her on from New York City. She's a photographer, a creative director, a storyteller. And we're going to be talking about her life, her photography and all the fun things. Um, so Rashida, welcome to creative life. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited for our talk. I am as well. And I just want to start off with Well, let me go over and look at the shout out because you know we love to do that. So we've got Betty and Tennessee. We've got Marco. We've got Mario in Malta, which is amazing. Um, and so keep those coming in. So, Rashida, I always love to go through people's instagram feeds and everything before I have them on. And you have this awesome. It's, you know, back in time, um, picture of you. And it was for a kid's ad, I believe. And it says if you have a gift, use it. Everything else will follow. So talk to me about that. Talk to me about discovering your gift and taking the leap to to use it. Oh, man. Um, first of all, this journey has been like every journey in life is long, right? Um and so I think my journey in photography kind like my my recognition of the talent that I had kind of started in high school. Um, so I went to, um, Wayne Fleet High School in Portland, Maine. Um, I grew up there. I was born in Antigua, Just disclaimer. I was born in Antigua. I moved to Maine when I was about eight years old and went to win Fleet High School. And so it was a performing arts high school. Because I love performing. I love like the art. Um, and I took a photography course and, you know, took photos my dad bought me a camera and then just kind of, like, you know, would capture people in my path at school around, um, and do as many creative things as possible. Even started, like a photography business. Um, doing yeah, doing, like head shots and, um, senior in high school. Uh, yeah, I did about, like, maybe four or five people's photos. I can't say they were amazing, but I did them, um, And then my camera actually got stolen, and I got into like this. I never told my dad until maybe like, a year after, um And I got into this, like, really crazy right where I was, like, I'm just not gonna do it, So I just didn't do photography. I had this idea to have a whole business, but it just the camera got stolen. I was like, I'm done. Um and so I think maybe it was, like, 17, 16, 17, 18. Um, And then I moved to New York when I graduated high school. Um, and my sister Danielle, she's wonderful, and she's probably the reason why I'm doing this. Um, she's just such a huge supporter, and I moved to New York to essentially help her and, like, figure out what I can do for work and, you know, just to make my life a little bit more meaningful. Um, since I'm under DACA so I couldn't work directly out of, um, high school, I couldn't work. I didn't go to school. Um, it was just kind of this, like, really weird place to be in. And so I decided to move to New York and help her out, and she would just I don't I don't really remember where it started, but she just was like, You're really good at this, like, just you should do it. And I was like, Okay, like, I'll do it. And then she was like, No, she did, like, actually do it. And I was like, Okay, so the journey kind of has been like a real journey of me realizing that I'm even good at it, that it's a gift that I like, know how to talk to people and, like, bring people's energy out in photos. Um, and for me, like that's the most important part of my photography. Like, I don't think I don't think it's possible for me to do the work that I do if I'm not the person that I am, if that makes sense, um, let's talk more. Yeah, let's talk more about that. Because I see that in your work. Um, I know you write about that as, like, it is that connection with people that, um and I always find that with people who are portrait photographers like that is the you have to have that, like, energetic connection. So tell me more about how you do that or what? Is it conscious? Is it just who you are as a person? Like Did you When was it that you like realize that that was the thing? Um, one. I think it's unconscious like I just naturally, I love people so much and the way that I grew up, it was just kind of natural to connect with people. Um, but I think I actually recently realized that I do have that ability and me and my sister, the same sister kind of talk about that a lot. It's like, How is it that I connect with people so easily and, like, people want to talk to me? Um, it sounds silly talking about it, but we're here to talk about this, Um, but I realized more so when I would assist other photographers on set. Um, they would asked me to come on set to help with posing and to help with, like, relaxing people on set. And I was like, Okay, Is this just, like, do I just allow that kind of space to happen? Um, and it's really about creating space for people at the end of the day. Um, in a lot of the shoots that I do, I take time to allow people to be, you know, like, because if if I don't allow you to be, I can't see who you are and how you can. I guess, give me the emotion that I might want or give me the pose that I might want. Um, so a lot of times like, I'll be like, Hey, like, I want you to do this post and I will myself sit in and do the post just so they see it, and then I'll kind of like hand it over to them to be like, Okay, can you do this? Just sit in it, be as natural as possible, and then I'll kind of adjust. Um But yeah, I hope that answers the question. That's kind of like how I create space for people and allow comfortable itty Well, I think I mean, I think you you hit the nail on the head with the with the creating space because it's one thing to have, you know, a we all have our unique personalities, and, um and that is something that comes out can come out naturally. But when you can recognize it and and verbalize that and and you know it is, it is creating space for somebody to feel comfortable when you are a portrait photographer and then then there are, like, now and then you can start identifying like things you do like, Oh, go and sit and show them. And again, it's like you. Yeah, you develop these like levels of skills that once you identify, you can repeat over and over. Um uh, I'm so we were talking then about people. Let's talk about light. Um, I know I I read that you wrote There's just something about sunlight hitting us in the world we live in. It's authentic and true. And as a photographer like, How do you think about light as you are. You know you're managing the person, and then you're managing the light like What does light mean to you as you're as you're approaching your images, man. So there's so many different forms of light in photography, you know, there's shooting outdoor and then that's natural light. And then there's shooting in studio, which you also have natural light. And then you're sometimes you do bring in extra lights around, um, but for me, I try to keep light as natural as possible. It's natural looking. So sometimes if there's shadow like I love shadow like it just works so much. Emotion and shadow is created from light as well. Which is kind of like mind blowing, um, to think about, um, But when I use the light in my photography and with people, I try to make sure that it it's hitting the person at the right place either on their face. Or maybe it's like a body part, or I don't like like to be too harsh. Um, because that's just then you kind of take away the skin tone and the and everything around them. Um, but yeah, light is interesting. I want to do more with light in photography, but that that I think, is more like set building, Um, which is? Well, yeah. I mean, that that is a whole different, you know, sort of a skill set and or not just skill set, but, um, way to approach images. Um, certainly. But it's that, you know, the the beautiful confluence of of the emotion of the person and then the emotion of the light that comes through. Yeah, I want to ask about Go ahead. Oh, no. I was gonna say the emotion of the light coming through it. Really? It really does change an image like you can look at three different images and have different lighting. And you'll you'll feel a little bit more with whether it's light or whether it's no light, or it just all gives you a different emotion. And that's that's really my favorite thing about dealing with light. Yeah, that's what I appreciated the you know, the authenticity. Enjoy that light that light can bring. I want to talk about this series. Um, that you did, um, it's featured on your website and in, um and it's you know, too. I don't know if there are models or a couple or what have you with the and It's blue and just gorgeous. And And I read that you wrote this was the last shoot I did in 2019, before my first day as a full time photographer. Um, and did what happened with this series? Um, didn't get a lot of eyeballs and go viral. And then, like, how did that? First of all, you were like, let's talk about becoming, like a full time photographer. What does that mean for you And then, um and then talked about that. These this beautiful series. Oh, Okay. So, first of all this series, we shot this in maybe 45 minutes on my roof on the 31st of December. I had to work that day. We also had, like, it was it was a lot. I didn't think that she was going to happen. Um, and we got two models. Um, they were wonderful. Um, Jason and Khadija and then the stylist on Simone Sullivan. She's amazing. Like she she really helped bring the shoot to life. Um, and just sidebar. Like the importance of a stylist and like models in a photograph if you're if you are creating a photograph like the importance of them is just it's overwhelming because I can take a beautiful photo by myself. But they really all kind of brought that photo to life. And they were models. But they showed up and they kind of like, gave us what we needed. And we worked together as a team and, um, really created that, um, But after we shot that, we got into my apartment and we looked at the photos, and we're like, This is gonna go viral. And this was like, December 31st 2019, like this is gonna go viral. They're like, Okay, we're gonna post it February 1st, and I actually completely forgot. Like I edited those photos that day, selected them and was done, and I pushed them to the side. And I was like, Okay, posting up every first hosted it, and I don't know what happened, but those photos actually went viral, which was wild to think about. Um, but can you remind me the rest of the question because I feel like I'm rambling. No, no, it was It was just about like, what did that like the timing of that happening. Um, and and you talked about how that was when you went, um, full time as a photographer. And so what was that like, What did that mean to you going full time? Yeah, it was. It was overwhelming. And also, um, what's the word? Confirming a bit Because it was my first, like style shoot that I did with anyone and like some time had gone by before it before I released it. Um, And so to see one people connecting to the images, um, was just, like, so heartwarming to me because those images to me meant so much, you know, it meant, I mean, it meant love. It meant being connected meant, um, supporting each other and like that shoot to me was like my friends were supporting me, and I'm like, getting these funds. But for me like that, that shoot was my friends were supporting me. Like we had this random idea to do this and to realize that, like, whatever it is that I decided to, like, jump into my I'm getting teary eyed. Um, but yeah, I think for me it meant whatever it is that I decided to jump into that people would be there to, like, kind of like, hold me up. Um, and it's And then like the pandemic happened and I was like, What? You know, like, where am I going to go from here? And then I was like, Well, I don't want these photos to be the thing that people see me as you know, because things go viral. And so, like all of these kind of thoughts of being supporting yourself and having people support you, but then not looking this way and not being this way and whatever, Um and so going through the year and still having that photo like pop up often like I hear that it's on, like mood boards and this and that, and I don't even think it's my best work. I don't even think it's like the best that it'll get, Um, but it's That piece just represents kind of like the beginning, Um, for me, um, jumping into photography full time. I I think it's beautiful, and of course it's emotional when you think about all the people that support you along your journey. But again, that's like the same thing that you do for your whether it's clients or subjects, you know, holding that space. And, um And, you know, that's what the community is, uh, in terms of, you know, not just the photography community, but like you said, you rely on your stylist. You rely on the makeup artists, you know, the all of that. Uh, what so you talked about like, Oh, I don't think this is my even my best work, but it's somehow connected with a lot of people. What are you most excited about right now in in the work that you're creating? It's January. Wait. No, it's February. It's February. It's February 2021 already. Uh, and so, you know, you go into, um, going full time, and then the pandemic happens. Like, what? Has that meant for you or what? What? What have you been? Um, what have you been doing? Like, how have you been staying in it? Oh, man. Um, that I did a bunch of random projects during the pandemic. Um, a lot of the projects were like, just capturing people. My friends, my roommate, um, around the house, I took a random photos on my roof. Um, closer to when we opened up like I had people over and so I would like capture my friends on the roof. And then I did like, I think I think I posted a couple photos of my two friends, CJ Anastasia. They're in a relationship. And so I went over to their place and they they just moved into And I was like, I just want to capture you guys. And so I did that and those photos were beautiful. So I've been doing a lot of, like, capturing of people. That's very close to me. My family, like I went back to Maine and I captured them because I mean, in the in the photography world are just in the world in general, especially living in New York. You don't have time to do these things. Um, and it's funny because I'm still kind of It took me a while to fully work on all of those things because the world kind of opened back up. Um, but for me, I realized with everything that was going on with, like Brianna Taylor and like, black lives, matter and all of that, I was like, I just I need my work to, like, do something or mean something or help the world in some way. Um, and I think in a way, that kind of it made me rethink. Like how I want to actually enter into the world of photography and businesses, and whatever it is that I'm creating, I I really had to, like, sit down and be like, Okay, but like, I can't I can't just do creative shoots just because, like, I'm gonna do a creative shoot, I want it to mean something. I want to learn about the people that I'm capturing. I want to share their stories. Um, I want to celebrate us. I want to do projects that or work on sets or do different commercial projects that actually are like helping my community and communities outside of that. Um and so I hope that answers the question. That's that's kind of like the direction that I'm trying to go into. Um, so right now I'm trying to do a project. I've thought about a project called Give yourself Flowers. I think I posted about it the other day. I'm still developing it, but I realized one. A lot of people in the community would talk about giving yourself flowers. Um, and I thought that was just so beautiful. I was like, Yeah, like I get myself flowers often. But the idea and the concept behind the celebrating yourself and taking time to do that, um, was something that was really meaningful to me. So I was like, Okay, you know, let me try and put this project together and capture people and talk to them about how they take time to celebrate themselves and also, like, extend it out for us all to do it for each other. So right now, that's that's like a little bit of what I'm doing Grambling as well, because I have enough. Um, And then another thing that was like, really close to my heart was kids, um, dealing, dealing with kids and working with kids who want to do photography or who just want to dive into the world of art. Especially because I have nieces and nephews who are so talented and also are like in the art world. And I think it's important to help. Okay, uh, shape them, but not create a shape around them. If that makes sense, um, it goes back to holding space. You know, like you said, Um And I think, you know, maybe that goes back to opportunity Or, you know, when you when somebody sees, like, your sister did that, you know? Hey, you're really good at this or you're talented. You know, just you don't have to tell somebody what to do, especially when it comes to kids. But again, like guiding them, giving them that space. Um, I want to go back to the to the flowers and and give yourself flowers because I love this concept, especially right now, like we should all be. Whether going out and buying flowers down the street or going out and picking them like putting them in a vase, like, you know, it's, um it's it's it's so important. Um, and and I think I read somewhere that one of your posts and this is, you know, something that I think we all encounter. But, um, something you may not know about me is how much I judge my own self and my work, uh, and and that this was can be, you know, my greatest downfall in 2020. So talk to me about self judgment And if there was, like, a moment where, you know, because we all experience this, which is why I think it's important to talk about it. Um, you know, in our journeys, were there moments where you're like, Oh, I don't know if you know, if, like, can I still be doing this And then, like, how did you break through that? Um, I'm still breaking through that, you know, I think even like things like this, right? Like having this conversation or even being asked to do this. I didn't mean it. It's really hard to sit down and look at yourself and see the accomplishments that you've even made. Um, for me, especially, it feels like a majority of my life. I've been, like going, going, going, going, going, trying to make sure that I'm like, doing something to make my life feel, uh, worth it, I guess, whatever that means especially, you know, being under DACA and, like trying to find work and then figuring out that I want to be a photographer and then being like, Okay, I want to be a photographer. How do I make the money as a photographer? How do I do this. How do I do that? Um And then seeing how saturated the world of photography is in seeing that so many people do the same thing but like, that's okay, um, that there's space for every like, there's there's actually space for everyone, which is shout out, Which is why I think it's so great that created, uh, sorry, I'm just blanked on the name. But, um, women live black women photographers, Yes, photographers and creative life. Like I think it's great that that would probably even created that because there's so much of us in this world doing essentially the same thing. But you know, there's there's a different niche for each each and every one of us. Um, and so for me, I I'm still working through, like, knowing that what I'm doing is enough, because creatively, you might think of something. But like, I don't know that a company is gonna want me to shoot their campaign because is it too intimate or, you know, like I just I don't know. I judge I judge my work all the time, like do I know lighting enough? Did I Did I do the shoot right? Um, is this just it sounds silly. It really sounds silly, but it's a lot of it's a lot of judgment on myself of like, I didn't go to school. So why would I know how to do this? Um, I can accept the creative process that I go through, but I can't necessarily, Except that I don't I didn't study business. So there are things like underneath, you know, like, I can be creative, but, like, what is this underneath thing That that I need to hold myself up. Um, and so that right now is the biggest thing is, the biggest struggle for me is like, how do I make sure that my business flow is like, actually flowing? How do I make sure that I know like that? I know what I'm doing along the way? Because I've gotten myself this far, I guess. And so giving myself flowers for that and like, chairs, Um, but also knowing, like, what are the things that I need to work on and being okay with that? Um, and I think that I think that's how I I kind of, um, work through these things in my head. That's like telling me No, you're not good enough. I'm like it's like there's one little bird on the shoulder and one little bird on the shoulder, and that's I mean, it is It is a daily practice, you know, and I don't and I don't think it actually goes away. Uh, So then it becomes, like, how do you how do you manage that? How do you like? Listen to one voice and like, Okay, I hear you, But I'm going to go listen to this other voice to, um and and I just wanna, you know, I keep looking over at these comments coming through, and Lynn Pfosten says hello from S Pardo, California. Now I am going to go buy myself flowers so you can do it. You do it, Lane. I love it. I love it. Um, and and so and Pam is totally relating in terms of, you know, feeling comfortable with her photography, but not necessarily with the business side. And I think that that becomes, you know, uh, that that can be sort of the defining, you know, difference between between, you know who continues on and and you know who goes a different direction, which is which is fine, but it is. I think, you know, you just said, like it's okay that I'm continuing to figure it out. And that's an important lesson to know that. Like, you know, we're all figuring it out along the way. Right? Uh, I want to go back to your your your childhood and talk about you as I love hearing about, like, Little Rosita. Um, you know, and, you know, wave. It's before you came to the U. S. You had posted this cute photo of you on instagram, and, you know, I wasn't always this grown. Uh, do you think about the fact that you were anybody, kids, ones? What? What were what were you like? What were you like as a kid? Siblings. You said you had a sister was always artistic. Um, like, tell us more. Yeah. So I have a very large family. I am one of officially 10, but within, like my dad, my mom and my dad. There's five of us, so I'm the middle child. Um, and me as a child is pretty much thing as today I want to say I I think I can do say that I've I've been the same. Like, very, very bubbly. Very, um, just, like, not in your face. But I like to show up, and I like to make my presence be known. Um, I dance. I like dancing a lot. Um, I post a lot of random dancing videos on my instagram. Um, I like to sing. So, like, I have a very artistic family. Like my aunt's a singer. My auntie Michelle. She's a singer. Um, my dad, he carves sticks with, like, Keynes. Um, so, like, it's so beautiful. So I have, like, a very artistic family. So growing up, it was just It was just kind of all there. Um, And I feel like my parents, even my mom, my mom is a hairdresser. And, like she does make up, she has her own shop, which is I've seen businesses be run by my family, Um, growing up nonstop. So? So I don't think it's like crazy that I am in this, like mindset of creating a business for myself. But young me was very, very driven all through, like high school all through middle school. I just always wanted to do things. I was in theater. Um, I like to sing? Um, yeah, it's It's just it's just a fun a ball of fun. You are a ball of fun machine. I love it. Uh, this other post that I saw, uh, that you were talking about, you know, what's your superpower? So I want to ask you what is What's your superpower? You know, I was thinking about this the other day. I can't even have a lot of random superpowers like I can really untangle. Um, necklaces. Really? Well, um, so bad at that. So strangely, it's like a really I can I can do it. Um, but I think my superpower is actually connecting with people just like locking in and allowing people to feel very comfortable with me. Um, and I think I knew that growing up, but it's something that I'm trying to like not actively step into, because I don't want it to feel inauthentic. Um, but to understand that, like, I do know how to talk to people. And I do know I do like listening to people's stories and, you know, capturing people in seeing people. So I think my superpower is like bringing that out. I think it is a superpower. And again, you've identified that and applied it to, you know, career and path and journey. Um, and and that's incredible. I love the fact that you come from a family of entrepreneurs, you know, and that an artist, because it's one thing to, um, it's one thing to, you know, go to school. It's another thing to actually see the work being done. And that's the like, That's school, you know, like, it's really what I talk about. I really say, like I am in school every day and it's hard because it's almost like you're on that like, spotlight. And I think that's sometimes where, you know, maybe the anxiety might come from a lot. Is that like my my life and the things that I do have always been like? Okay, I'm just gonna do it and I like I like, jump into it and I see how it's gonna go. And I, like, try to move, maneuver with it all. Um, but it really is just like living in school, in a way, yeah, the school of life. Uh, let's go back and talk about, um, community and, um and and two things community and then sort of this like you talked about wanting your work to make a difference. Tell me what more what you what you mean by that? Mhm. Um wow. You know, that is something that I am still kind of like actively thinking about, because for me, when I when I think about photography, you know, it's it's a still image, right? And now what? What what can we do with that? Like, how? How can I actually change anything in the world? Women's a still image, and then I think about, you know, video work. And it's the movement and that actually portrays a lot more, um, in our world, which is something that I'm kind of like trying to segue into, like directing and, um, dealing with film a little bit more. But over the year of 2020 I realized I saw how much change a photograph can put out into the world. Um, I e like the protected series, like so many people, reach out to me and talk about it and tell me how much it meant to them. Um and so I think I realized just like, as simple as it is, it is it to simply put, it is I want to make sure that whatever projects that I'm doing align with the things that's important to me because I really believe that whatever you put yourself into, um, authentically it will be It will spread, um, in some way or the other because everything that I put into protected like people say it to me without me having to say so. Um, so as as words speak, 1000 I mean a lot. So do photographs. So do visuals. Anything visual? Um and so I think I'm just hoping to make more connections, um, to help the community. Whether that's like me just lending a hand, um, to a business if they can't afford photography, it's like, Okay, well, I can do this for you. Whatever. If that's me connecting someone to a company or a stylist or whatever it may be, if I can help someone, um, you know, reach a goal. Whatever that may be. Um, I think that's that's that's that's That's my That's my goal. Tell me more. Tell us more for people who haven't seen the series that you were just referring to protected. Tell us more about the series, what it was and and and like you said What? What? The reactions were, um, so protected for me when the way it came up is we were I was out with some friends. I met Simone, um, and she had did she had a bandana, I believe on or her, You know, another friend had a bandana on, and then she had her hair braided in a specific color, and they matched. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, we should do shoot like this. Um, And so I realized, like, the the extent of what the chute could actually mean. Um and that was, you know, in the black community, like we do do rags like we wrap our hair like I had my hair dyed up before I came on to, you know, make sure everything is like, sleek and clean. And, you know, we do a lot of protective styles like we braid our hair. And so I think all of those things that we do is has a lot to do with being protective of our hair and our body and our space, you know, using body butters. All of that Um, And so with creating this, um, I spoke to her about making it feel like a painting. You know, like, kind of like the something that looks so like, beautiful and like, clean cut. But like, almost like the people are using these, like people are like connecting because there's there's so there's so much that goes on in our community, Um, just on the back end, but to just put us out there in front in in, uh, energy of like, royalty. You know, I wanted it. I wanted it to feel like that. But even with, like, do rags, it can still look like, really powerful and clean. And not at not not the way that I think the world typically looks. Look at do rags. Um and so there were also a lot of, um, series going around with the do rags and bonnets. Um, and I almost didn't do it because I was like, I don't want it to look like everyone else, but I don't really believe in that. And I think I want to see people recreate the same concept and see how different people do it. Um, but yeah, for me, I just I wanted it to feel like we were being protected to show how we protect each other, to show how we protect ourselves and our hair, Um, and to just show us as royalty. You know, Blue is situated royal color, and we we made that decision just kind of, like, really quickly. Um, and it it worked. Well, it it is, yes, the the the the royal, the joy, the you know, and and all those layers that, you know that you just talked to. And it's it's a beautiful thing to again be able to, um, like, make connect all those dots, um and, you know, in the moment for a project and then again to see people react to that in that way. And I really appreciate your sentiment for people out there like, yeah, you see something and you're drawn to it, and everybody is going to put their own spin on on something. And so just because, you know, it's an important lesson not to say like, Oh, I can't do that because somebody else did, like it's still gonna be, you know, Rasheeda style, um, and and and so, you know, again like what a beautiful piece of work. Tell me about creative direction. And, um, you know, one of the things you multifaceted photographer, original storyteller, creative director, like, what is Do you see that aspect of a lot of people? You know, there's there's photography that, you know, street photography, which is very different than sort of coming up with concepts and and sets and partying with other people or what have you. So how do you approach the creative direction side? And is that also something that you're looking to be hired for? That aspect as well? Um, I would love to be hired as creative director. However, I'm doing everything very slowly. Um uh, how I approach creative direction. So a lot of the way that I kind of talk about direct how I direct people creatively, whether it's me just doing the shoot or if I get asked to be on set to, like, help with posing, um, I try to I try to make sure that whatever it is directing is very close, close to who the person is or the product, Um or like, whatever idea that I come to mind, I try and make it like flow, like feel as real as possible. Um, so a lot of, like, creative direction that I'll give on set is like, Okay, if you're if you're gonna do this pose, like, actually do it like, I don't I don't want you to, like, hop off and, like, actually want you to run, like, actually take off and do and do the action. Um, so a lot of a lot of creative direction is that for me? Um, but then when I come up with my creative concepts and I want to direct it, Well, um, I don't know, it's just it's a very interesting process. Um, because I find myself mhm. I find myself thinking of things but not being able to find, like, inspiration for it. If that makes sense, because it's coming from my brain. Um, if that if that makes sense, um, so I try to like, if I get when I get on set and I share that creative direction, we then like, build it together, right? And so it's a lot of talking about it. It's a lot of explaining like, Oh, this is where I was coming from with this. But how do you like asking the people on set or who's working with me? Like, how do you think we can best put this together? Um, working with set designers that actually understand what your vision is because I can't do it all I can have the idea, but at the end of the day, I want to shoot it, because how I see it is different than how someone else will see it. So building a team who can kind of, like, connect those those dots, um, is very important. Well, what strikes me about what you just said is, um is yeah, we all you know, we can come up with ideas, but sometimes they're hard to articulate or see like how it's how you're going to get from, like, starting point to finish point. And so your your guidance or putting that out there to people that, yeah, you can rely on those people around you to help figure it out. And I think a lot of times as artists, or if it's our shoot, or we feel like we're supposed to have the whole thing figured out, you know, at once it's a really important reminder to people that Yeah, I mean, you you ask for help, you know, or or ask for input and ideas, and it's okay if you know somebody else comes up with a thing that it turns into. But I think there's a There's a level of confidence in being okay with that that, um, that I see in you, you know, and that that that being that people person like and accepting that you're you're holding space for everybody around you, that's part of it as well talk to me about I know you talked about earlier. You mentioned assisting other other photographers, photographers. How did how important was that for you and like encouragement to other people out there with regard to, You know, it's kind of going back to what we talked about, like there's school academic. And then there's life, like talk to me about assisting other photographers and and how that impacted what you do. Yeah, it impacts be tremendously, um, one talking about how asking for help is really important. That is the one thing that I'm really bad at like, and I actively work on it, but I'm really bad at it. So in return I was like, Okay, so how can I one jump into this world of photography, and that, to me, was assisting? Because I'm good at helping, you know, I'm really good at helping. I'm bad at asking for help. So I reached out to Mark Clennon. He's amazing photographer and just amazing friend. Amazing person. And I reached out to him to see if I could just, like, assist him and be his assistant in some way. And, um, we created this really great relationship where it was like I would help him on set. But it wasn't like, yeah, it wasn't like it was just like his show. Like he would like. We worked together. Um, and so the spirit for me of assisting and like reaching out to people is like one just showing up like showing up is just so important and being on time showing up for the person and showing up for yourself. Um, chewing up for yourself first. Because if you don't show up for yourself first, you can't show up for anybody else. Um and so, like, I kind of just carry that with me in whatever settings I happen to be in um, but yeah, like assisting. Really? It really kind of brought me here because it put me in different spaces. It allowed me to sit back and not be the photographer who's, you know, thinking about all the things that's going on on set. But you also just learn a lot in the way that you know, one how to do lighting like learning lighting from someone else and seeing how they do it. It's not like you're stealing from them. You're just you're creating a better relationships and then I have the same people assist me, you know, Um and they want to assist me and they want, you know, we we all its it's It's nice to just create a community of people where, like you're not competing, you're just you're helping each other and that that, to me, is like the most important way for me to live and be. I think it's interesting that you identify that you have a that it's hard to ask for help. Um, even though you're a helper of people, Uh and I think I mean, this is a It's an important lesson. It was an important lesson that I'm still learning from myself as well, because I have I also, like, have a hard time asking for help. And I'm always trying to figure out, like, is it that I feel like I'm putting a burden on, you know, somebody else or, um, but I think you know, one of the beautiful things like you said, Like if you have people assisting or whatever, like you're you're asking somebody for help is giving them an opportunity. Yes, and And so, you know, looking at it in that way, I don't know. I mean, it's it's it's all these things that are work, you know, that we have to continue to to to practice ourselves. I love that you said said that, um that you're giving someone the opportunity because, um, I think it was actually last year, like within the first month of me moving into being full time, I met up with a friend of mine, Crystal. She has this underwear line, and she's just amazing. But we met up and we're talking, and she was like, you know, I'm just having such a hard time figuring this out. But then I sat down and I was like, Okay, I need help. But if I reach out to someone for help, it gives them the opportunity to do the thing that they want to do it like it's not putting a burden on anyone. It's like it's literally like opening up that door of opportunity, of connection, of just relatability of experience, of really anything in the field of like, getting things done, Um, and so like the idea that, like, I have to just understand that I cannot do it by myself like I really can't I really cannot. That's why there's so many different, um, you know, business so loud. Um, but that's why there's so many different, um, titles, you know, in the things that we do and the importance of respecting that title. And you know, if I have people coming to help me on set, I'm having you here because I trust you. And so I'm going to give you the rates to do it. And if I'm being too annoying, please tell me like I'm very much like that. But yes, it's just very, very important to give opportunities to, uh exactly. And I want to go back to Then you talked about um, wanting to give space to kids and helping kids. You know, I think, um, first of all, you know, it's just it's incredible that you came to the U. S eight year old under DACA and have been able to, you know, and and have created what you've created. Um, and that is not an easy path. Um, And so, like you said, give yourself flowers. Um, and and, you know, the the tenacity, the you know, the everything it takes to to continue to do that. Um And so So what have you How are you involved in helping kids or or what? Have you seen, like, is there a story of a kid who you've seen sort of take off or something like that? Um, so one. I start one of the starting gigs that I had as a photographer when I decided that I wanted to do it even before ended. Um, I would do school photos at schools, and it was interesting experience because one I love love kids. I didn't get paid very much for doing it, but I just love, like dealing with kids and working with kids. Never wanted to be a teacher. Yeah, but one of the things that I felt really called to do or that I kind of like, uh, stirred up inside of me as I would as I would, you know, place the kids and make them feel comfortable in front of the camera was how much I wanted them to feel more seen because a lot of the kids that we would be shooting the portraits like a lot of them would just be sad or they didn't know how to be in front of the camera. And some of them were interested in photography. And then, like, it was just so so many things that came up to me. And so I kind of came up with this thing where I wanted to do like this, um, headshot series with kids in school so that their headshots with headshots would look a little bit more lively and updated and who they are. Um, And so then now, like moving into today, um, I connected with some really wonderful people. Um, this woman Sadaf, she runs this program called the Alpha Ambassadors. Um and so I had also connected with an old friend. Um Elena mud. She worked for Daniel Levitt as as well as I did, um, and so we like, ran into each other in the summer, and she expressed she wanted to do this thing with kids. And just so it's just like a lot of pieces, like, kept filling into the puzzle. And so I reached out to, um uh, Sadaf and we decided to, like, put together this program for kids, um, in Brooklyn to basically learn photography and come up with a portfolio at the end of it. So we're gonna be helping them kind of do that. And also just teaching them about photography but not keeping it in the box that we're used to seeing photography as so using us. People like me. People like, uh, Mark Clennon. People like, you know, current photographers in this day and day, um, to use their work to show to these kids to be like you can do this. What? How can you create, like, what is in your mind that you want to create? What do you want to capture? Um, and just kind of like give them a little foundation to get them, get them off their feet. So we're starting that on Monday. And it's the first time I've put anything at this magnitude. Um, and like they, the women that I'm working with have been such a wonderful help in, like, you know, us helping to hold it, hold up each other, um, during this process. But it's very exciting. We have a lot of, like, really great photographers. It's going to be speaking and helping out. Um, but yeah, that that is that is what I'm currently working on. So, wow, that's awesome. And, um, first of all, I mean again, what's his February 3rd here in the middle of a blizzard in New York City? Are you in New York to No, no, I've just seen all the pictures. I'm, uh, So the thought I was just imagining little kids, little kids, but kids out there, like, let me take pictures of snow. Uh, but I think, um, I just love the themes, learning more about you, like the giving and how that comes, you know, full circle. Um, they the asking for help in this program we're putting together, you know, like and and coming together and holding space. Um, it's just You know what a beautiful, uh, way to, you know, continue. Um, allowing people to be seen, uh, and and maybe that's sort of the final question for you. Like what? What does it mean for you to be seen? Oh, that's a really good question. Um, wow. Yeah. I'm always so focused on, like, seeing people and allowing people to be seen, but I think for me, it just Mm. It means that I'm able to share the things that I want to do. And for, I guess, for it to be received. Um, as it is, Um, yeah, like I don't like I don't crave fame or anything. I'm not like I just I want whatever it is that I do like, I want people to actually see it and receive it. Um, not just see it, but, like, really, really take it in. Um so I think I think that's what it means for me to be seen. I like I love it. I love when people talk to me. I love when people like reach out to me. I'm very, like, active in my I talk to people a lot and have, like, actual conversation. So that's that to me, it makes me feel seen. I love your answer of, um, just it's not just the like being seen, but that that's like the received part again. This is like everything about you. Is this, like, two way, um, which is the energy that you put out there. But the fact that then it's allowing that to be received as well is just It's a beautiful thing. I love it. Um, I what a pleasure to have you on creative Live today. And thank you again to black women photographers for partnering with us for the series. We have three more amazing photographers coming up again every Wednesday, this month at 10 a.m. and you can everybody can R s v p for that, um, on creativelive dot com slash TB. But Rasheeda, tell us where everybody can find you follow you connect with you. You totally do interact with people. So I want to give us all the places higher you give us all the places, All the things. Um so my website is www dot Rasheeda z dot com. Um and then my instagram is Rasheed a r a S h I d a z a g o n Rasheeda Sagan. Um, just my full name. So lucky to get that, um and I guess I'm on Twitter, too, But I don't know. My Twitter is the same machine as Egan. Um And then please email me. I like receiving emails. It's the same machine to R A S h I d a Z a g o n at gmail dot com and, yeah, holler say hi.

Class Description

WE ARE PHOTOGRAPHERS PODCAST:

Our weekly audio podcast We Are Photographers brings you true stories from behind the lens and behind the lives of your favorite photographers, filmmakers, and creative industry game-changers. From their struggles to their wins, host Kenna Klosterman discovers the real human stories about why they do what they do.

Listen to this and other audio episodes on our audio Podcast page.

ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

Born in Antigua with entrepreneurial parents and a creative flair, Rashida moved to Maine at 8 years old and used her first camera to start a business in high school taking senior portraits. She moved to NYC after high school, assisted other photographers, and found her superpower in holding space and connecting with subjects. That comfort level allows people to truly be seen for who they are in her portrait shoots. We explore her recent series Protected that went viral and what that’s meant for her personally, her community, and her career. Find out about the inspiring photography empowerment program she is creating for kids in Brooklyn.

ABOUT RASHIDA:

Rashida Zagon is a photographer, creative director & storyteller based in New York City. Specializing in portrait photography she captures natural movement bringing to life the most authentic energy of each subject. Through human connection Rashida brings intimacy and light to still shots, exposing the simple joys of everyday life by capturing those behind-the-scenes moments. Her intention is to make great connections with people and brands, treating each of her clients with specialized attention to bring their vision to life. 

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