Skip to main content

When Preparation Meets Opportunity

Lesson 1 of 1

When Preparation Meets Opportunity with Paul Ninson

Paul Ninson, Chase Jarvis

When Preparation Meets Opportunity

Paul Ninson, Chase Jarvis

Starting under

$13/month

Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

1. When Preparation Meets Opportunity with Paul Ninson

Lessons

  Class Trailer
Now Playing

Lesson Info

When Preparation Meets Opportunity with Paul Ninson

Hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Chase Service Live show here on Creative Live. You all know this show. This is where I sit down with the world's top creators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders, and I do everything I can to unpack their brain with the goal of helping you live your dreams and career in hobby and in life. I am extremely excited about today's episode because it's an episode that you all have been asking for. And what I mean by that is ah, lot of the time we have folks who, um are from outside the photo industry or folks who, um, I have come to know through adventures beyond photography. And today and you all are avid photographers is a huge contingent of photographers here paying attention. Not everyone, Um, but regardless of your mode of expression or the way that you couch yourself in creativity, uh, today's guest is someone who started off a Z, a fan of this show and has since made journey not just halfway across the planet but through desire ing...

to start a career have started that career and now has cultivated a ton of success for himself. And this brings me great pleasure to introduce a man who is hails from Ghana. Africa. We have, ah, long history together, and I'm excited to cover that history, but mostly what it's like to be someone who is coming up in the creative industries right now in the areas of photography and documentary film. Um, my guest is the one and only. Mr Paul Nixon. Paul, welcome to this show. I'm so honored that you're here, and we're gonna cover some good ground today, So thank you for coming. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you so much. Is being a long time comin. It has. And again, a documentary, um, photographer and filmmaker. Um, I know that is part of how you identify now. I'm hoping, though, that you can trace a little bit of your journey. Maybe even our journey. You paying attention to Brandon Stanton, our mutual friend who is the creator of humans of New York, who connected us while you were in, You know, still in Ghana a couple of years ago. I'm wondering if Azzawi welcome people I can see here. People tuning in from all over the planet. They are cheering for you. congratulating you on not being on the show. But as for being able to pursue your dreams and for creating success for yourself. So again, we got folks from Auckland, New Zealand. It looks like here Ontario, uh, got to Ella's in the house, Um, hands raised for Paul. So the world's welcoming you and thank you in parallel with the those folks tuning in from all over the place. Could you give us a little back story on, um, how you first were acquainted with this show? The journey through us meeting. And then we can get into your journey as a creator. Thank you. Chase. Um, importance. And from Ghana. So in 2000 and 17, I decided to become a photograph. Eso I sold my camera in 2000 and I sold my IPhone in 2016 to buy a cama with the hope of becoming a photographer. How did you wait? Sorry. How did you How did you communicate? If you sold your phone, do not have a phone and all. Then or did you have just a small, connected non smartphone device? Yesterday s. So I had an IPhone and then I saw the IPhone, which meant my lucky and to start Correa, which I knew barely nothing about. I only had about it. And so I was just does this burning desire to become a photograph for So I constantly was looking for information are constantly looking for photographs on Facebook everywhere possible. That's how I got to know a creative life that creative, like podcast. And it is just different being on it different now you This is what I mean by folks have been asking for a long time for this full circle. Folks who have ah are in the early chapters of creating success for themselves as you are. Um, and I'm wondering if we can maybe even go one level deeper. So you sold your smartphone to buy a DSLR to have a shot at becoming a photographer. Um, and thank you for for, uh, you know, being, um I don't know, paying attention to what it is that we do here online. Um, but I also know you were paying attention. Thio, another amazing documentary photographer and storyteller, our mutual friend Brandon Stanton. So, um, you tell your version of the story first about bumping into brand and then I'll tell my story because, uh, there's a funny little way that it connects. So share with me how you initially met Brandon, which led to us being on the phone today. Okay, So back in Ghana, when even I didn't have a comma, I was watching creative life. I couldn't afford it then, eh? So I have to, you know, currently, right now, the time difference is that in New York currently is 12 PM Yeah, in Ghana, VM in Ghana. So you have to stay up. I have to stay up to watch the free version off creative life. So if then I have to save money to buy a creative life online or as a gift from someone. So actually, I got to know Brandon. True creative life was on the show that I got to know who? The person behind humans of New York. So who knew that years down the line? Our meeting in Ghana? Accra. So it was very, very funny. I met him and people didn't know who he was because no recount. The story of how you actually bumped into him. So you were walking down the street, so I had to recap. You've seen him on the show we've had. He's been a guest here a couple of times. He has, uh, class on creative live. And so you're familiar with that? And then at some point, you're in Ghana in the town square or just give us a little detail. How did you meet Brandon? So, on a good day, e think was testing. A friend of mine called me that he had. He has a program s o. I should come in, take pictures off and actually do you wanna go? Honestly, do you wanna go? But then I was like, Okay, he's a friend. Let me help him with some pictures. And there was a study abroad program. So cardinal Book watchman. So when with him. And so when we'll university Afghan accomplished, I saw him. And I was like, that is humans of New York I London. And then people like he just walking around Like what? Well, clearly he was there making, making some stories. Tony, right? Yes, he was there making stories. And then I honestly, I think somebody said it on Facebook or somewhere that humans of New York is looking for is going to be in Ghana. But I didn't know when, actually, and I said I didn't know when. And I mean, for me. What? What's the odds off meeting him? So I mean, so I was like, OK, fine. If he's in town, okay? Eso When I met him, I was like, Hey, does you? He wants of me. Or and then he's like he was trying to play it out like that was no him. I'm like, that's you. I know you and say how do you know me? And I'm like, Okay, it's like, what? Your tutorials on creative life? Yeah. So that's how I got to know you're like, Okay, so we talked briefly, and everybody people came around to talk to him and then get pictures with him. And then So for me, I was like a documentary photograph. I'm always documenting people, not taking pictures with people. So I told him, Hey, you know, can I get a picture of you? Like So I asked him to sit and then make a portrait of him. That was that was it. And then I left. So I think I don't I think now he said, I made a good impression, so made a good impression. This is where I want to interject my part, which is he? It's four o'clock in the morning and I'm I was putting. I had a home in Seattle and in San Francisco. I was in my bed in San Francisco and I looked at my phone with one eye because it's four in the morning and I see Brandon's name and I'm like, Oh, buddy, and sometimes he calls me early because he's normally in New York and so I'm like he forgot that I'm in Seattle are are in San Francisco right now and so I'll call him later. The phone rings again, and so he's called me twice. I'm like he really wants to talk to me about something and I'm like, Oh, dude, do you know it's like 4. 30 in the morning for me and he's like, Yeah, but you know what? I don't even care because I'm in Ghana right now and you know, I was just connected with this amazing photographer named Paul and called Saw us originally on the Internet together and there's just something really special about this guy and I want to find a way for us all to stay connected. So go back to sleep. I just wanted to tell you we were thinking about you halfway across the world. And so apparently, you walked away after photographing him, and he immediately called me and he's like, literally, I'm standing in the town square in, uh, what city was? It was. It was a car. So it was in the University of Ghana. So then Brandon Brandon was like, I'm interested. Come, let's sit and talk And I'm like, Okay, Brandon is calling you to come and sit and talk. That's like, It's great, you know? So we said he talked. We talked and then, funny enough, I had my laptop in my bag. So he asks that Can I see some of your works? So I just pulled my laptop out and then showed him some of the work, and it's like you Good. This is good way. I'm like being is like then I was like, OK, fine. If you're saying it's good hours of that, I know. So then he was like, Why? So what's What's your plans? Do you want to be published, or do you want Thio make money out of it. So I think exactly. I told him money will always come. But putting my work other was more important than the money. And then yes, So that's one of the I remember exactly telling him that. And then he asked me How did I became a photographer and I told him over to creative life watching creative life every now and then it's like, Oh, you know what she's gonna say. Yes, I know. E. Watch this podcast. I know every person who has been on the show. I can tell you all that he's done for and I told him I became a photographer. I started doing personal project because off Chase Jarvis, because she Jarvis was talking about personal project. And so I think when I became a photograph, I saved money, and then I started doing a lot of personal projects. I've never had hopes off publishing works. I never knew what the that portfolio would do for me or the personal projects would do for me, but I mean, I was like, Okay, somebody from the industry who was who's successful is talking about personal projects, So I guess maybe probably does the way forward, but then again, I kept doing it. I realized that my vision was clear. I knew what I wanted to do, and he has brought me to various means because I did weapons. I did events. I did everything. But my personal project was personal to me, and I really enjoyed it. I think there's so much wisdom in that process that you just shared. And for anyone watching, remember, we're talking. This is 2017. Paul had zero experience with the camera, sold his phone in order to buy a camera in order to have a shot at taking some pictures. And the first opportunity when you were given to show your portfolio to someone who ah, you know, could really recognize talent and, you know, and sent you back with this note like you have really aptitude. I think that is. There's so much value in a the leap that you had to make. In order to start, you had to start doing something instead of nothing, right, because there was a time when you were thinking about photography and not taking action, and eso I wanna, you know, call attention to that for anyone who's listening or watching. And then the second part about personal projects, which it I can't praise you enough. And if I don't know if you caught what? What? Paul said there again, it was you were photographing weddings, photographing portrait's doing all of the things that you needed to do in order to pay the bills. But with all of your extra money, you use those to sink into personal projects. And what were some of those personal projects? And you know what's an example of something you spent your own money on? Um, in an attempt to create work that you wanted someone else ultimately toe hire you for rather than weddings or other portrait? What kind of projects? Where you undertaking with your own money. So based on the weddings that events are saving money and eso for me, it was more off. What can I do? Different. What can I do? Different? I constantly was asking myself, What can I do? Different? What can I differentiate myself from the part of photographers in Ghana? In Africa, you know so constantly that was was not looking for. So what I did was I saved money but a ticket One ticket to East Africa and I started researching. So about six months, five months. My sister's researching on stories which are unique, which the media is not reporting, on which the 94th Africa is different. So first one of the first project I did was a village in a village with no men in Kenya. It waas a group of women who they they have been abused. They've been traditionally culturally, they've not bean supported enough by their husband because of diaries, and so they formed their own village. Women are not allowed. So people constantly asked me why women are allowed in the villages because off that because they the diary was expensive, so men saw them as properties, so they form their own village and the supporting village community. So even today, if you look at other things, people will say feminism is in the Western side or community for women or champion in women or on the other side. But this is a typical story. We shows that a lot of people in that side of the world we're doing what were no scene and was no in the media today. Yeah, I love your passion chasing stories that you had. You are aware we're not being told elsewhere. And whether you're a documentary photographer like Paul chasing that story or just supplies to anyone, right? Like, what is a way that you can stand out and do something that others are not? And this is not a requirement. But this is a part of the creative process, because so many of us want to, you know, stand out and differentiate ourselves, but were unwilling to take a risk. And, you know, I've said this so many times you can't stand out and fit in at the same time. And so your willingness to spend your own money to go to East Africa to photograph this village, this community, uh, of women on Lee, a feminist community in Africa. Um, would you say that was one of the things that you know, when you completed that project or during the process of creating that How did it make you feel? Did you learn something along the way? What did you learn about personal work in general One, I think the rics party. That's what you're talking about. People are not willing to take risks. People love to be in their comfort zone. And the comfort zone will never get you the results. Look at me. I've never been to East Africa at that point. Um I don't know Kiswahili. I don't know the people over there. I don't know anybody in that session off Kenya. I knew somebody in the city. Nairobi. So why would I do that? A dispense off, going around Ghana, taking pictures everybody's taken, was comfortable doing that in Ghana. But then I learned a lot how to even find a fixed. How to find the best place to get the food, how to even communicate with the people. And this is me who has never done a project before a documentary project before. So now today, if you look back, I look back and now people are talking about these things. I've done that in my first year I was going to places. Nobody wanted to go. I was I was that National Geographic photograph for with no support showing up at the village. Think about it. A village with no men. Why? How do I get in? How do I talked my way to Why? How do I express myself? Even they don't speak English and I don't speak their language. So how do you navigate you that? How do you find the best hotel around? So how do you even find somebody who can translate and even hug, even tell the story? For me, it was like, How do I tell the story? Is years off a month off preparation months off, research, visual research months off planet and anything could go wrong. And that's the part. People. Every time I tell this story is like, I did not know who to publish this pitch the story, too. I did not know how to pitch a story. I did not know that somebody will be even interested. But the point is that I wanted to do it. That's why I can't whether people were interested or not. I wanted to see a vision I wanted to land through this process that will help Mike idea and people in the beginning discouraged me. A lot of people are lost. Friends are lost, good friends in the process because people were like documentary photography. How can you survive with documentary photography? Wedding is great. Do wedding, But the satisfaction, the fulfillment was what is important to me. And I saw that I knew photographers who are country creative life. And I saw their work And I was like, I want to be better than this person I want to get here. I wanna be the National Geographic photographer. I want to get there. So for me that Dr because I one day I remember in one village I was nearly beating up because the people didn't want me to tell their stories off the women and other people there. How do I talk through that? And these are some of the risks. In the beginning, I took which people. So now people saw my work and I was different from every guy named Photograph. That is how I think people started recognizing my work. Yeah, that I think there's so much beauty and it was actually your willingness to go and do the thing. And you said it very clearly right? With didn't have a plan, you didn't know where to pitch a story. You didn't know the end use. And so many times I think everybody wants the entire map like, laid out clear for them. But what I loved about your story the first time I heard it initially from Brandon, and then you and I got on the phone. Um, not long after that, and I'll never forget that call. Um, it was just so heartfelt in earnest, but that process of pursuing what was passionate for you ultimately was the thing that helped you stand out from every other photographer in Ghana. Now, this is where the story takes an interesting twist because, um, what you will come to know about about Paul and his work is that he was not just satisfied with telling stories of East Africa to Ghana. Um, you had set your ambitions a little bit higher. So I'm wondering, you know, we've talked a little bit about how you got your first camera and some of your first personal work that helped get you recognized as a documentary photographer in Ghana, telling stories that were, uh, you know, other people were afraid Thio to tell, uh, but tell us about sort of your next ambition and what unfolded next in your journey. So I am very determined and hardworking person. I'll be honest. I started my first company at the age of 20 with the company up to at the age of 20 are still in school. First year in school and I grew the company up. What are the students are sprinting, designing in my damaging. So I knew that I If I want to do something, I want to do it. No matter how people discourage me, I knew. And every time I tell people that even now being in New York, I tell people that I know where I come from. I know who I am, and I know where I'm going. So if I know my past, my present and my future, why would your opinion matter to me? Why will your criticism or whatever It is important to me because I know where I'm coming from. And this force me keeps me going there with now and then. So for me it was I had a checklist on my war. I had New York International Center of Photography at the Adams National Geographic, and I wasn't interested in our words. In the beginning, I promised myself that I will not apply for any awards for three years. Why? Because I wanted to shoot from my house I wanted wasn't interested in recognition. I was interested in fame. I was interested in any kind of glory which would take me away and will give me a sense of different off. Why I go and shoot pictures. I go take pictures. Why? I wake up in the morning, take my camera out and take pictures. Wasn't just about the money. It wasn't just about the awards. I was interested in that. I was really interested in being a visual storyteller. So I had my checklist and I knew how so. Funny enough, Three months after I bought my karma, I got into ICB. The first pointed three months, the first with just 2017. So when I was in Kenya documenting the village with no man, I got an email from the head of the program that time got into I, C P. And I was like, For those who don't know, I C P is the International Center for Photography in New York, which is very prestigious, um, film or photography academy. And my understanding was that you had submitted and shared some work with them. Um, shortly after buying your camera and that it was while you were doing this job and just returned that you'd heard that that work also other personal work had caught the attention of I seep and so sorry. Pick up your story. Just I wanted to give a little clarity for anyone. He didn't know that this, uh, prestigious. Um you know, location in New York had reached out to you? Yes. So they gave me a partial scholarship and I was like, No way I could afford the rest institution. So as my excitement was short lived, it was like it was like, Okay, you giving me this part of the substitution reduction, But I cannot afford I just started photography and this is what But then I was so determined to because it was different from the May learning on YouTube from creative life, off 10 stories. But I wanted to be part of a community I wanted to be in a different environment to see or to know how. Because my background is like how I became how I was interested in storytelling was my grand parents were traditionally less so. They were passing on aura histories from generation to generation so they thought. I need to hear about my tradition about the center tribe, war with the British colony and all that, you know. So, growing up that was the banning desire, so I didn't recognize it. So I was looking for How do I tell stories from a to say, How do I do that? So even the pictures, How do I sing them together? How do I how pitch, you know? So I knew I met a photographer in Ghana because mostly I was assistant for photographers fixing them in Ghana. So I met one who waas a graduate of five CP. So then I was like, Okay, I wanna be the I c p. So that's the first time ahead of I C p. Then now to be years down the line, I just got rid the last one from my CP. So I want to fill in a little bit of color. And so again, I see P is not cheap eso, despite having despite having you know, this, receiving a note from them and getting an offer to attend on partial scholarship. Um, how were you able to to get from, you know, Ghana to where you are now, which is, you know, sitting in your apartment in New York. So when I met Brandon, I told him the same thing. He asked me what I want to do. So I gave him because that's the point. I knew what I wanted to do. And that's what people you have to know so that if you need somebody to help you or you want somebody to help you, you have to be prepared. When I met Brandon, I had a body of wet. Whether I knew everything about it or not, it didn't matter. I had a wicked. That's why it mattered. Because people want to be perfect. You know, people want to be, you know, I want to get all the work. You know, the best camera. I want to get the best picture with all the angles, with no eso. For me, it was like this is what I had and he saw something in me and he asked me what I want to do. I told him straight up I got at the Mission 2017 toe I c. P in New York, but I couldn't afford the rest of the teaching. And so he's like, Okay, interesting. So he's s So he's like, Okay, what if you get the scholarship back, would you go? And I said yes, he will go. So he's like, Okay, can you send an email to the head of the program and copy me? E. I mean, you said so. So I'll do that e mean my mind in my mind, I was like, was he trying to dio give me a full scholarship or what? So I did that, and he sent him a needle saying, Hey, um, my point gonna is an incredible photographer. Do you mind? Can you give him the scholarship back? And what does that mean? So they gave me They said if I apply again, they will be willing to do that. So I think it was grateful enough to give me a scholarship. And then Brandon decided to pay for the rest off the tuition, and I was marveled, because why would you do that? You just met somebody in Ghana, and yeah, and then he's like, I believe in you. I believe in your talent. I believe in what I see you. So I'm willing to pay the restitution and to for you to be in New York and support you in any way possible. And for me, I wouldn't have been here without Brandon. Honestly, it wouldn't have been possible because who does that? And in the end there. Because for me, it was like, Okay, you connected me to change that where you help me pay the tuition. So okay, but then during the visa process, he has Brandon helping me get a visa because it's very difficult if people don't know is very difficult together to united United States of America is very, very difficult. Very, very difficult. So, yeah, it's hard to overstate how difficult it is. Yes, people don't know. It is very difficult. You have to apply. Wait for the scent of you in 50 days. You waiting for percent of you. Then you have to do go join a queue and then you get the visa. Even with that, you're not guaranteed. Even if you have all the scholarship, the support, you're not guaranteed off a visa to United States off America. So a so that you guys know very, very difficult. Yes. So Brandon helped me with all the documentations and everything through the post. The heat went all beyond everything. E. I mean, he I'm just grateful. I'm just grateful Toe Brandon and cheese double, of course. No, like that's just for anyone who's, um if you didn't already, if it wasn't already obvious. What an amazing human the creator, Brandon Stanton behind humans of New York, is, um that's that story underscores that. And there's so many stories like that that I know about Brand and then a lot of others don't, um it was just such a kind of amazing. Of course, he's an insane talent, but just so, so kind hearted that made made all of this, um, the financial part possible on It's important to know that had you not done that work, did you If you didn't, As you said already, if you didn't have a portfolio Thio show him on that day. Even if it wasn't perfect that you that you had, as you said, which I think is beautiful. This is the pull quote of all pull quotes like I knew my past. I know what I'm doing now. My present and I knew my future. I knew what it is that I wanted to dio and you know that you didn't let any haters or anyone talk you out of that? I think that is just so it gives me chills. Thio, Thio here the clarity. And I think for so many people who find themselves in a position to, you know, overcome huge obstacles I mean to have, you know, limited financial support to be halfway around the world and not have a camera and then, you know, arguably three months later, be accepted the I C p and then a year after that to actually be attending is just a remarkable tribute to you, Paul, for the clarity. And I think that is, you know, the saying goes, it's hard to get where you wanna be if you don't know where you want to go on and you know it's hard Thio, Um, I just It's it's, ah huge testament to you. Um, so as you share with us, you just graduated from I, C. P. And I want to talk a little bit about what it's been like for you, um, to, you know, be in New York. Obviously, that's a huge and vastly creative city. It's one of my favorite cities on the planet. Um, what were some of your impressions when you got here? And how did you How did you get to work? So then again, Blunden. Then again, I remember when I go to New York, Brandon was in Japan, and when he came, he was texting me on Instagram. I didn't have a phone them, so a number phone number yet. So he was texting me on Instagram, saying, Hey, do you need anything? This is such an amazing person. I'm like, Oh, I'm here already. So And do you need anything? What do you need? You know, trying to support me as much as possible. Then I remember when he came. He's like, school is great. The school you attended is good, but then the street is also good. So you have the streets, which is me and you have the school. If you And if you talk along with me, you can learn more. If you be in school, you can learn more. And so Brandon took me under his wing. Well, a couple of times we went out to do stories. He talked along, watch him behind the scenes He's such an incredible, hardworking person. And that inspired me a lot because, you know, he posts on Instagram. But you don't know what was behind the scene. So waking up every day to go take pictures is not easy. I want as much as I'm determined I would. If I reach a certain stage, Maybe I'll be trying to slow down and say I've gotten there yet now, So you know, let me relax a little bit. Brandon is different. He goes out every day. Really not saying. And he has been doing that for years. How on f when I be inspired. So I was thinking, I'm like, this is a guy who sewed one. Like New York based in the North to times has huge follow us successful and still like the most successful social media channel on any photographer on the planet. He had, like, you know, 40 million followers or something. Yeah, so I'm like, he's still the hardest working person. Yes, both of us. No eso I'm like, this guy is going out every day to take pictures. Who am I to sleep? Oh, man, I was like, Look, e s like I'm here to work, and he's such a hardworking and so inspiring. So that is one of the major things which helped me. Um, I think Brandon helped us, helped me and still help me. We talked three days ago figuring out things. Yesterday we talked and constantly in. So when we came, he took me for a walk who want to eat. And he asked me what I want to do. What s So He was trying to get me to know more about New York and what it is. So being in New York is different. I lost a couple of times because the numbers and then the streets numbers with. So I got lost a couple of times and yeah, I found my way to school every now and then and and also there's underneath different culture here. People are so much into themselves. I come from a culture where we're community, and I mean, that is what the culture is. And I come from where people are naive in certain things and you have to educate people that in certain areas of life, you know, with all that is going on about racism for me, I'm from Africa. everyone is back. Yeah, we all the same. We all treat each other the same. No matter the Tri P come from. So I've read about racism, but I didn't know what racism Waas. I've never experienced it. So now I'm cautious of my skin color. Now I'm like, Oh, so this is one racism missed. So these things and for me, that's the same thing. So when I go to school, I knew what I wanted. I know I'm coming from I know who I am and I know where I'm going. So your stupid comments, your racism is not going to stop me because I come from a place where there's no I see P So if I'm lucky to be here, I'm not I'm not gonna let your in sentiment about my skin color about where I come from. My essence distrust me. So I go to school, finish school, go home. Golin and I took taking two courses. I think maybe probably have the one who took a lot, of course, is in the school because it's only this part of the school, and it's easy for me. I think photo editing in the guitar set management for making. So now I'm into filmmaking. Us? Well, because for me it was What can I do next? My checklist. I'm almost done. So what can I do? List? What is the next thing? What is the next biggest thing? So for me, how do I tell stories? Different hardware told stories in a good way. In a in a role way as an African not to influence me is good. I gave myself assignments every day. New York is busy, so every week, every day I had an assignment for myself. I go out to shoot protest. I'll go out to shoot Pirate. I'll go out to shoot Veterans Parade. I go out to shoot everything on the streets in New York every time there's something new. Bennie Sanders, Joe Biden. Everyone's campaign out there, I'll show up. So then I was discovering myself. What do I want to do next? Every letter knew me because I'll go and ask you questions and I'll ask you questions. So I think they gave me a nickname. Corn. Quick questions because I asked eso That has been My experience in New York is different for me is very different I'm still learning. I don't know. Perfect. I don't know everything about black White. I hate to talk about that. I don't believe human beings should be divided being so just in color. So I had to try to talk about it. But then it is what it is and have experienced so much racism, which is not funny. I mean it. Za such city too. See my skin color and it's terrible. It's sometimes it makes you very few very sad, like I don't just Just one day I was on my way to school. A lady gave me a dollar to go buy food in on the subway. I'm like, Why you give me I don't like to go back food. I didn't tell you I'm hungry. Why you do that? And underneath it, I understood all she told him. Oh, okay. I don't care. I I'll go ahead and do what? Why? I came here and one day I'll go back home well again. You're how you speak about it. So, frankly, um, honestly, is just, um I appreciate the directness and the honesty, and it also breaks my heart and simultaneously inspires the hell out of me Thio here the how driven, um, you are. And I think you know you. You heaped a lot of praise onto the brand. And he's, you know, to both of us, he's a dear friend and one of our favorite people on the planet. It's how we know one another. Um, and yet e think you disproportionately um, just be careful, because you're you are the reason that you're here and you know, the people who are. I'm seeing the comments again, chiming in from all of the world, just, um, giving you mad respect for the journey that you've been on and also for sharing your story and telling it in a really heartfelt and honest way. I think that's part of what you know. People have been watching this show for a long time. They want to hear that. And so thanks for giving us the unfiltered, um, truth behind your your journey. And it's e think there's a difference between sort of hustle and grind and all of those you know, those attributes or those the verbs that we throw at this mentality of chasing what you want. But I just want to circle back on the thing that you've said no, a number of times, which is just clarity, you know, clarity of what it is. You said your checklist. You have goals that you look at every day. You're checking them off one by one. And it's in that clarity that you're able to, um, to be driven and to build a play through the struggle on the hardship. Um, as a just the gut check here are there times when that's hard, harder than others. Um, and do you ever get frustrated or to the point of wanting to give up or quit or and how do you manage that? In a sense, this is a question about your mindset. Yeah, sure, yes. Behind every scene. This moment where you get sad this moment where you feel because, like, look, I had my my plan laid out school. Find an internship, newsroom internship. Find a good place to be and covered. 19 happened. Well, I cried or wake up on. Keep on complaining. No. Yes. Sometimes I feel depressed about it. That why this time when I mean us? Why this time? You know, But what can I do? Have to be positive to go ahead. Sometimes I read a lot. I resisted books a year. I divide my time and my energy very carefully so that I can read these books. So when I'm sad, I miss home Right now. I tried to read I try to find comfort in the people around me and to year towards ahead, because right now I just got my work permits to stay in us. And I have to survive, so I won't lie about it. I'm looking for a job, you know, to survive because you cannot. For me, Brandon stays. Tell me all the time that I want to be an artist, to be an artist. Mhm, fully you how to figure a way that you don't need to be stressed about how to pay the bills. So if I can find a day job, a part time job so that I can support my living and continue to create Great, that would be the future. And every time I tell people me being here, I'm here for the number off young photographers in Ghana. I just found out that I might be I might be one of the first photographers in native Canyon to come to school in us. What does that mean? It means a lot of people are looking at to me every post I post every statement I make. This is probably someone. So this keeps me going because right now I'm setting up photography, fares, photography, like be in Ghana. I'm said. I'm trying to find a foundation trying to find a means to support people because I don't want to change to end with me. I hate the idea. Off star. I hate the idea of elite. I want a community. Young photographs from Ghana be able to tell our own story or stories across Africa. So for me, that is my goal. That is what keeps me going that keeps me awake and how to figure that out. Because $10,000.20,000 US dollars in Ghana, there's a lot of money. So if I can make that money and more of that, I can help transform a young person who is confused. I want to be years ago to be coming photographer. So that's how I deal with it. No, that's so inspiring. And I think we all run the risk from time to time as is natural, of getting down on our own circumstances, regardless of, um, again, race, orientation, gender. There's all sorts of stuff, and it's fair technology that there's so much privilege in the world. And yet at the end of you know, if you distill all that, what we really have is this muscle between our ears are problem solving how we manage the challenges that we're all going through. And it strikes me that your mindset is part of what differentiates you from So maney, so many others. You know, I remember when we first got well, we spoke on the phone a couple of times and I remember those just heart followed very emotional conversations. This is when you were still in Africa aan den meeting, meeting in person. Um, it was immediately clear to me how important your mindset was and all this stuff for again, those folks who tuning in from all over the world right now, Thio, you know, get a little bit more info on you and your story. Um, it's it's important for me to make the point that this mindset aspect that you have Paul is such a critical element to your success and to this energy that you put off as as a great human. Um, So I'm also interested in exploring, um, how you come up with assignments for yourself because you made that point earlier and there are some people asking about it in the comments, um, about like they don't even know where to start. And you mentioned having regular self assigned work in New York. It's always busy. It's always crazy. And so how? How do you decide what you want to shoot and what you don't want to shoot? And how do you hold yourself accountable? Yeah, so thank you for the question. I think the point is, self assignments is very easy. People think complicate things, make it so completely. I just want to tell the story off someone. I'm just an access. So whether it is dark or is raining or whether it is just you just have to find a story to tell. So right now, for example, covert hit and everybody is our home. I mean, I was very careful. So what I did waas. I wanted to tell a story, but New York Times I watch New York Times I watch National Geographic. Everybody is telling the story different. You know, in one way, photographers. I'm going outside going to take pictures of people clapping. So what I did was I got a backdrop. A flush, um, umbrella. I was from vanish. Then I hang them up, pick them up in front of every hospital, And I'm like, Hey, um, poor students off Baba, Do you want me to take a portrait of you? I'm doing a story called What was your experience? What did you see? Front line workers and people started coming in one after the other. Guess what? At the end of the day, I go 162 people. But the other downside is it I regard rejected more than 300 times. Constant rejections? Yes. And look, the same thing happened in front of the hospital, and I sent a text message to Brandon and say, Hey, you know, I look very stupid. I'm out here emotionally tired. People are just rejecting me for no reason. I'm just making pictures of people. You see that they are the downside of it. And then I'm like, and but then it's like you have to go out there again and again and again for you to be emotionally between that that you don't feel it again. So every time there's something. Then I moved on quickly to protest and protest. People were taking pictures of black lives matter everywhere, so Okay, fine. Everybody's doing that. How would I be different? So I started narrating it down to frontline workers protesting for black lives matter. That was my ankle. That was my story. And nobody did that. Everybody was shooting and sprain. Every protest you show up, I will have to reserve my energy, my time and my resources and find that story. Nobody's paying attention to that small stories. So when um, hospital workers for nine workers were protesting, I show up because that's my interest. That is what I want. I mean, I cannot cover the whole of New York or the five birds to go every protest every weekend every day. No, it's not like I'm not interested in that. It's not like I don't want to interest documented history. But then even that I'm scared off. Wow, what happened? So then let me focus on the small story and then start doing that. So finding stories is one after the other. Little by little, look for the stories behind your back door. How even your parents are reacting to call it That's so true. There are stories. The way I like to think about it is if there's, you know, 50 pictures within 50 ft of what you're standing right now, there's equally 50 stories, you know, and it's your finding the story in, um, the sea of humanity. If you're again a documentary photographer like what makes what What piques your curiosity. I want to go back to the rejection in case people weren't paying attention. So, um, you know, talk to me about the various reasons that you got rejected, what it felt like and how you manage that. So I felt bad. I felt really bad. I was like Sometimes people was like, I'm trying to do a good story, you know, you have a genuine interest ingenue motive. But then maybe the person is not interested, too. His pictures to be taken. It's fine. Do with that move on. Then if they show up again, no, everybody want their pictures to be taken. No, everybody wanted talk you know. So, yes, I felt really bad Then the train was not running at some point, so I have tow pay for you. Think about it. I pay $50 from Brooklyn to come to Mittal. Hung my punk drop on sky. Ford's in front of the hospital. I didn't have a stand. Then people reject you. Think about it. How and that was the only person. And it's by the streets, only person. How think about it. It's like just imagine it. The only person on the street and I'm in front of the emergency hospital and seeing what is coming in and out and trying to make pictures out of that and everybody might be different. So yeah, the rejection was bad, but it wasn't personal. I didn't want to take it personal. I knew where why I was there. And then I knew what I wanted. So sometimes it's terrible. They is is bad. I'm human. But then if you know where you're going, if you know what you want, keep going. I never dreamed that three years, four years down the line, I'll be on change. Javers podcast. You know, I never dreamed I will be in New York today. I never dreamed I will be where I am today. And I started photography three years ago, just three years ago. So I remember all the bad pictures. I took my first yet to get where I am today. So finding personal projects up to you it is very easy. Just find one after the other. And I keep telling people, my friends and everybody like, if any, if you need any help, if you just send me a message, I will try to look through your work. I'll try to help you based on my knowledge for my CP and true experience as well. Um, now might be a good time to, uh, share a little bit more about how people can follow you And what tune into as they're following you. Paul, where would you like to steer people? And you know what coordinates on the internet. Where do you want to send people? My website is, uh, Penis at w w poor Nansen dot com And my instagram is Penis and and is the same thing on Facebook Collinson, and it's very easy and people like sometimes people like oh, you know, they're scared. Toe Send me a message. But funny enough, I reply every single message from when I had 2000 followers. So now that I have almost combined off 82,000 followers, I will always reply people because I know where I started and I knew that Help. Some people like Chase Chavez, Brandon and other people from my school have helped me to today, So I will never look back. Look down Anybody I'll never look back to say I won't respond, So just send me a message As soon as I have time, I'm available. I will respond. You and I will help you jump on the call with you between my available time to help you in any way. And, uh, let's let's also be really like what? There's some things that you are looking for. You're looking for more subjects for your photo projects. You mentioned earlier that you're looking for some employment in order Thio, make your way amidst the cove it downturn. And obviously you're incredibly skilled that so money. So many things. What? Um is there anything else that you're you're looking for? You looking for more subjects or, um, how could this community come together to help you? If you can send a letter to the head off a National Geographic or New York Times, E me, I would be grateful. But then, yes. So for me is always looking for how to help people tell their stories, whether it's organization nonprofit. I have years of experience with nonprofits have traveled across almost 12 countries to 17 countries in Africa to help people tell their stories. So I think some of the organization needs help in story tenant. And that is where I fall into helping organizations helping people tell their stories. Whether it's a personal story where there's organizations newsroom whatsoever. I mean, I'm looking to gain experience from America on Yes. So that is what currently I'm looking forward to If I get to start off my America. Jenny, if I go back home well, thank you for sharing all that stuff, and I know that again. I'm seeing the comments come in, and there's just a lot of hearts and emotion, um, pouring out for you from so many different places on the planet and across the U. S. Um, I'm curious as a sort of the final topic that I'm hoping to explore with you today, Paul, Um, what do you see? Your future as, um just I want to recap again for anyone joining them with Paul Nixon, whose? Um, one of the brightest young photographers coming out of I C. P. International Center for Photography Just three years ago, um, was living without a camera in Ghana and has transformed his life in pursuit of his dream to tell stories. Um, with the camera And what you know, if if there was a couple different things I'm hoping to explore, and I was gonna try and combine them into one. Um, but maybe I'll divide and conquer here. So what's next for you? I know you have a work visa aside from all you know, wanting to get work, but on this is a bit of a leading question. But you talked at one point about earlier in this conversation about going home, and he talked about you talked about telling stories. So, um, part of what we all come to love about what I've known about you for a long time And what the people in the broadcaster watching listening right now have come to love about you over the course of last hours. Your clarity. And so I'm hoping you can share a little bit more about where you know what you hope to do with the skills and what you've learned here in the U. S. Um, you know what's next for you, man. So I think most people and I keep I think I learned this from you and some few other people. It's like people don't want to talk about, like, being clear. Like, What do you want, like the honest to yourself. And be honest to where you wanna go. People don't want to talk about money. People don't want to talk. I need money. In fact, don't have money s. Oh, yes, I saw this quote from you is like Brooke. I package it very nicely. A group photograph cannot tell a story. It's true if you're broke, you cannot tell a story so fast. I think one of the things I'm looking to stay here to do is get experience, make enough money, make enough community, then go back home because I think Go ahead. No, no, You Sorry I interrupted you. There was a small delay there. Why do you want to go back home? And what do you hope to do when you get there? I'm from Africa. Nobody puts me on this on a slave ship to be here. I came by myself. So I will go back home someday. Why? Because I believe I'm more useful in Africa than useful in the U. S. I believe that a lot of people like me, I believe so in Ghana, which I want to help in Africa, which I wanna help. So I want to go back home to start a photographic school on a photographic community. My first step is to start a photo like B people I'm going to reach out to People don't need any book. It's enough donating money to Africa. Don't need any book off photographic book. Then I could be able to inspire people because it's hard. I'm going to take the whole creative life too. Africa. I'm gonna We talked about this. I'm gonna bring it the whole creative life to Africa because that people who needs to watch you need to listen to this, You know they need that. So I think I'm going to do that to help. And sometimes in life, people have to sacrifice. I don't see Correa. I see impact. My sisters is not Correa. My success is how did I impact people's like creative life has impacted a lot of people's life. And today I think when you sleep, you could know that even if it didn't transform, everybody's like and transform importance is like So what about that in Africa? So that is what I'm trying to do. I'm gonna bide you. I'm gonna talk to you more about it. I'm gonna constantly for you to bring your contribution and your help to Africa. And I'm going to take you to Africa someday. You, Brandon, and all the creative creative life community to go see what is there and how best we can. And I see a lot off opportunities in Africa for me. I don't like to complain. I hate complain it. I'm a problem solver. I want to solve problems. I wanna help people. So that is my clarity on what I want to do. Well, I've already committed my, uh, time and energy to your mission, my friend, and, of course, uh, creative lives. You know, whatever we can dio through the vehicle of you opponents in two, um, Thio reach more people in Africa were committed to that. And I'm excited to hear a little bit more. Maybe we'll have something more to share here and the not too distant future with some of the folks who are watching and listening on dso Africa. You know, keep your keep your eyes out. Here we come. Um, Paul, I want to thank you so much for sharing your story for being vulnerable and, um, willing to help us see things we maybe didn't see before And for sharing your story, Um, of being Ah, a guy with a phone. I can't even say a guy with a camera. You were a guy with a phone three years ago. Um, and your story has touched so many again, um, folks coming and I've seen, if not all, 50 states, it certainly looked like a representation of all 50 states from around the country and on so many different countries. I don't have no idea what time it is in Auckland, New Zealand, right now, but they're glued to the screen. And your story. Um I want to give a shout out, of course, to our mutual friend Brandon for connecting us a couple of years ago. And thank you for for being on the on the show and sharing this sort of full circle, which is something again. That was a direct request from this community. Um, and just know that we're here to support, And if you can help, pull out anyway, you know how to get him his penance and p like letter. Like Paul and N I N s O and penance. And on instagram and websites paul johnson dot com. Is that right? Yeah, Incredibly talented. And just thank you so much for being on the show. But you're you're an inspiration to so many. And, of course, to me much respect, man. Thank you. Thank you, Jake. Thank you so much. I think it is an honor to be on this show is always important, to be honest, to be transparent because people are what are watching us people, if you, um the lord gives you that responsibility, you have to be transparent. And I keep on telling everybody I meet. This is who I am. This is what I advise you. And If you want to listen to my story, I will always be honest with what it iss. So thank you so much for giving me this platform is just amazing. I will always find the time to come to Seattle on E. I'll always always, uh, meet you. I've got fond memories that last time we're together before the pandemic hit, and I look forward to getting together again. Assumes it's safe to be together. But so thanks again, uh, signing after one again. You know how you know Paul's coordinates. I hope you've enjoyed us fulfilling your request of telling Cem full circle stories of people in our community that have, um, set out to achieve a dream and pursue that dream with bigger, um, warts and hard parts and joy and all of the things that come into it. So thanks again for being on this show. Everybody hope you have a great evening and please go check out Paul's work and stay tuned for more stories here at creativelive dot com slash tv and the Chase Jarvis live podcast Your creative life Signing off. Talk to you again soon, right? Yeah,

Class Description

There's a common misconception that artists have a monopoly on creativity...But the very act of making waves - no matter the career - is a creative one. The Chase Jarvis Live Show is an exploration of creativity, self-discovery, entrepreneurship, hard-earned lessons, and so much more. Chase sits down with the world's top creators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders and unpacks actionable, valuable insights to help you live your dreams in career, hobby, and life.

ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

One of my favorite things about the community we have around this show is the ongoing conversation not just between my guests, but with you, the listener. Whether it’s through my email newsletter, social media, or texting, the community we’ve built over 10+ years is real. This year, many of you asked for guests who are on their way up. Folks who have put what they’ve learned into action. Well, I could not think of a better show to bring in the New Year with one such guest, Paul Ninson.

Paul is a documentary photographer and aspiring Cinematographer, born in Kumasi, Ghana. He’s also a long time listener of the show. Having discovered this podcast and CreativeLive as a curious and budding photographer, Paul decided to sell his phone to buy his first camera. That was just three years ago. His path from then to now is incredibly inspirational, including a chance meeting of Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York in Ghana, connecting with yours truly, and eventually making his way to his dream school at the International Center of Photography in New York where he was awarded the Director’s Fellowship and George Moss Merit Scholarship.

To date, Paul’s work has been featured in the World Photography Organization, and exhibited at the British Council. He was one for the official state photographers for the HRH The Prince of Wales and the HRH The Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to Ghana. He has worked for various NGOs and organizations including Discovery Learning Alliance, Ark Foundation, United Nations, and many many more.

Reviews