On Passion, Patience & Photography with Myesha Evon Gardner

On Passion, Patience & Photography with Myesha Evon Gardner



This episode features Myesha Evon Gardner, a New York-based photographer and art director originally from Cleveland, Ohio. We cover topics such as Myesha’s approach to photography, including influences, gear, experimentation, shooting analog and working in the darkroom, her mindsets about growth and finances, lessons she learned from her father, who is a musician, the importance of patience and passion, risk-taking, her most essential rituals, and much more.


Myesha Evon Gardner is a New York-based photographer and art director originally from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a BFA degree in photography and graphic design from the Parsons School of Design in New York City.

As a photographer and storyteller, Myesha examines truth by documenting and redefining themes of legacy, labor, the perception of beauty, and familial love in underrepresented communities. Through the subjects of vanity, body image, and self-care, she studies the profoundly complex role of the Black woman, who, she observes, as people and individuals, are often stripped down to singular value. Gardner investigates the socioeconomic structure and negotiation of power between these visual embodiments and what it means to exist in and move up into the ranks of American society.

"Passion pays off."

Her commercial work is inspired by the materiality of cultural influences as expressed through music, history, sports, and fashion. Myesha’s clients include Nike, Jordan, Beats by Dre, Nordstrom, Beyoncé, Parkwood Entertainment, Saint Heron, HBO, RCA Records, Sony Music, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, to name a few.

Over the years, she participated in several group exhibitions, and her work has been published in publications such as HYPEBAE, WIRED, Cosmopolitan, The Brooklyn Circus, Vouge, V Man and TIME.

  • Introduction [00:00:00]
  • The Mindful Creative Year [00:01:02]
  • Episode Introduction [00:05:06]
  • On Becoming a Creative Professional [00:07:26]
  • Advice for Young Creatives [00:21:05]
  • Work Routines of a Professional Freelance Photographer [00:30:05]
  • Short Episode Break – Support the Podcast [00:45:43]
  • Financial Mindsets for Creative Professionals [00:46:25]
  • Importance of Personal and Professional Growth [00:49:53]
  • Myesha’s Approach to Photography and Direction [01:01:13]
  • Challenges on Myesha’s Creative Journey [01:21:11]
  • How to Be a Better Creative Professional [01:26:35]
  • Episode Outro [01:30:13]

    Myesha: When you take a moment to sit down and really reflect on who you are and what you’re passionate about, it becomes a little bit easier to seed out everything else. Those things always pay off way more than any check that comes into your bank account.

    This is The Creative Voyage Podcast, a long-form interview show with the mission to help creative professionals to level up. I’m your host, Mario Depicolzuane. I’m a creative professional myself, active in a field of art direction, graphic design and consulting.

    This podcast features insightful conversations with some of the world’s most inspiring creatives, reveals the stories that shape their lives and careers and offers actionable strategies to help you take your mindset and skills to the next level. I invite you to join me on this journey.

    Mario: We’ll be back in a second to talk about photography, passion, patience and more. But first, a quick message about our upcoming online program.

    “Before the workshop, I used to get like very stressed with projects. And then, little by little, I think that I’ve built like a routine and like a lifestyle that keeps me a little bit away of those things that I think that give me back, like, comparing myself or thinking that I’m not ambitious enough.”

    “I started to work as an independent designer. I had lots of things in my mind. I didn’t know how to start. And the workshop really helped me to have clear objectives of what I wanted to achieve. It made me realize many things I wanted, not only for the business but in many aspects of my life. So, it made me see what I really wanted in each area and make it clear.”

    As discerning creatives, we already know the amateurs wing it and the professionals have a system. And we might have a systematic approach for our clan projects, which is great. But we forget to apply similar intentionality to our own Ambitions and the days and months ahead of us. We often just wing it. Or at best, we set a few vaguely defined New Year’s resolutions, which is nonsense. We are all aware of it.

    However, something to this New Year’s momentum urges us to think about what we could improve or change. And that’s why I created The Mindful Creative Year, a series of practices aimed at bringing greater intentionality to our personal and professional aspirations.

    With The Mindful Creative Year, I use that momentum strategically. And instead of ineffective numerous resolutions, I make an iterative and inspiring roadmap for the months ahead. And I make it an ongoing practice that I’ve been doing privately for half a decade. And in recent years, through this workshop, with a small community of creative individuals.

    “Even though you have a lot of things that you want to do, you can do only certain things in one day or one week. Definitely, trying to prioritize what needs to be done and how I can help others at the same time. Me being sort of a recent graduate and more of a newcomer into the design industry, it’s been sort of hard mean trying to learn and then also do some of my own practice at the same time. So, having that schedule and a set of goals did help a lot. Sort of that consistency was what I needed.”

    “And also, I think that I’ve become a little bit more intentional with what I do. I used to take these projects that came to me. And right now, I’m trying to focus more on just doing whatever I want to do just to grow and to see where it takes me to at least have a healthy mindset to keep growing. It was really, really inspiring and motivating to listen to everyone in the workshop. That really gave me the chance to be a little bit more flexible even with myself.”

    The Mindful Creative year is much more than an online course. It’s a workshop and a year-long intimate community. By January 15th, we are accepting enrollment for The Mindful Creative Year. It will be the third year I’m running this workshop, and this 2023 session is redesigned and expanded making it the most ambitious one to date.

    If you’re ready to step back, take a mindful inventory of your personal and work life and prepare for your next leap, I hope you’ll consider joining us. There’s work ahead, it’s worthwhile and it should be directed well. We’re starting on January 16th. Visit creative.voyage/newyear to find out more and join the workshop.

    In this episode, I talked to a photographer and art director.

    Myesha: My name is Myesha Evon Gardner. I’m a photographer and art director based in New York City, Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy area.

    Myesha Evon Gardner is a New York-based photographer and art director. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a BFA degree in photography and graphic design from the Parsons School of Design in New York City. As a photographer and storyteller, Myesha examines truth by documenting and redefining themes of legacy, labor, the perception of beauty, and familial love in underrepresented communities. To the subjects of vanity, body image and self-care, she studies the profoundly complex role of the black woman who she observes as people and individuals are often stripped down to singular value.

    Gardner investigates the socio-economic structure and negotiation of power between these visual embodiments and what it means to exist in and move up into the ranks of American society. Her commercial work is inspired by the materiality of cultural influences as expressed through music, history, sports and fashion.

    Myesha’s clients include Nike, Beats by Drake, Nordstrom, Beyonce, Parkwood Entertainment, Saint Heron, HBO, RCA Records, Sony Music, The New Yorker and the New York Times to name a few.

    Over the years, she participated in several group exhibitions. And her work has been published in publications such as HYPEBAE, Wired, Cosmopolitan, The Brooklyn Circus, VOGUE, V Man and Time.

    In this episode, we’ll listen to the highlights of the conversation I have with Myesha in December 2022. We cover topics such as Myesha’s approach to photography, including influences, gear, experimentation, shooting analog, and working in the dark room. Her mindsets about growth and finances. The lessons she learned from her father, who is a musician. The importance of patience and passion. Risk-taking. Her most essential rituals. And much more.

    Myesha’s creative journey started early. A big part of the influence was her family, including her father, a professional musician in Cleveland, Ohio, where Myesha grew up and learned many formative lessons about being creative.

    After graduating from the Cleveland School of the Arts, she enrolled at the Parsons School of Design in New York studying communication design and photography. I started our conversation by asking Myesha about those early days which brought her to where she is today.

    Myesha: I come from a family who make a living from their creative abilities. My father, he’s a musician. He’s a drummer. And he still is gigging in my hometown. I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio. So, he still has jobs and opportunities where he’s playing music and making a living off of his gift and his talent. So, that was presented to me at a young age, in my teenage years

    One of my very first jobs in Cleveland was a photography position at this clothing store. And back then, it was just one of those places that needed marketing materials and promotional materials with a little mix of graphic design in there. But to me it was just fun. It was just one of those things that I was able to collaborate with my friends. I was scouting locations. I was creating mood boards and kind of like vision boards for just the approach, and the style and the direction that we wanted to go in for each piece of clothing.

    And mind you, it was like the fashion nova of Cleveland. But I was still going above and beyond to create a really strong aesthetic, especially for like holiday campaigns. And we had one shoot where we were in arcade and we did like this whole gamer theme, which is really insane. Also, very easy to do back then because no one was really shooting or asking for access in that way. That was one of my first jobs. I think I was getting paid like $10 an hour or less, which was nothing. But again, it was just something that I realized I enjoyed so much that it didn’t feel like work to me.

    And I think outside of having fun and enjoying it, when you’re just kind of like naturally drawn to it, and then your gifts are kind of like creating income for you, that’s when I realized that this is something that I wanted to do professionally. That was at 15 years old.

    Also, being from Cleveland, Ohio, going to an arts public high school where I was able to major in photography at the age of 14 to really start to explore and discover how my vision and my perspective could live in this world and could exist in this world. I was also able to be a part of various group exhibitions, and shows, and tap into the dark room and learn how to create my process, again, at a young age.

    So, I began to sell prints. I did family portraits. I did like every photographer—weddings, baby showers, birthday parties. I was starting my business as a teenager and I didn’t realize it because it was just something that I couldn’t think of anything else. I couldn’t think of any other way. I realized maybe like at 15 or 16 years old that I was a creative professional. And it just kind of carried out throughout my years of moving to New York and continuing on today.

    Mario: I guess, from that age, when you kind of really realized that, to now. That’s been a journey. I guess you went then from there to university, right? To study further.

    Myesha: Yes.

    Mario: Were you also doing different work on the side during that time?

    Myesha: Absolutely. I think, also, one thing about being a creative professional is that you’re not just kind of like pushed into one corner to do one thing. You kind of have to explore a basis of different multi-faceted interests in order to really understand what works for you to really understand what you’re passionate about. Also, to really understand what you’re not so good at.

    I think I had to discover eventually, not even not so good at, but maybe you don’t share the same passion as you do for one thing from another. And I think, for me, again, in high school and also just being so young you just really have that freedom. I think we still have that freedom, but we have so much more freedom to explore, and make mistakes and just try anything.

    I feel like I was so fearless at 17. I was making clothes. I was doing runway shows. I was a fashion designer. I was making jewelry and selling bracelets. I was doing print shows. I was a part of gallery exhibitions and selling prints. I also played music. I played the piano. And I did gigs and played at church. There was nothing that you could tell me that I couldn’t do even if I really took my time to just be good enough to fulfill those desires or fulfill that curiosity throughout my way.

    But coming to New York, I didn’t know what graphic design was. Where I’m from, that wasn’t really a job. A lot of people settled down and do more medical jobs. Like, it’s a really strong medical unit that’s in Cleveland, like Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve. A lot of people kind of go into that world. Also, there are a lot of factory jobs. It’s mostly about security and finding that security, and benefits and income.

    Being a creative professional was more of a risk. I mean, I think that is kind of anywhere. It is more of a risk. It’s kind of random. It depends on the environment. I knew that I had to move to New York in order to really expand my network and to just learn more about all of the creative things outside of what I was experiencing in Cleveland.

    When I moved to New York, I attended Parsons, the new school for graphic design. And I remember in foundation year, I was really stuck between majoring in fashion design. But after seeing how much money it costs to develop a brand and have like a final senior thesis on top of the income that I know I wasn’t getting to sustain myself throughout college. Because Parsons is a private school. It is really expensive. And I had a lot of grants, and scholarships, and private loans and just people who really believed in me that pushed me through that experience and really supported me through that experience, which I’m very grateful for.

    But just during foundation year, you really have that whole year to explore and try different things. You have time to really, I guess, figure out what it is that you want to do. Because at that point, I felt very experienced with photography. I felt that I’d explored so many variations of my work I wanted to expand a little bit more. I majored in communication design with a minor in photo.

    Within the communication design program, we learned about typography. We learned about layout. We learned about coding. I knew how to code a website at one point in my life outside of Myspace. We learned about so many different tools that I felt really made me appreciate and give a lot of appreciation.

    And I salute graphic designers because they are so passionate about what they do. And a lot of the inspiration behind the work is based off of experiences and problem solving. I was just so fascinated by making things look and feel better or making things easier or making things more digestible for an audience. Just really wanting to learn a little bit more about that world and then how to apply even those skills to my photography.

    Got my BFA and communication design with a minor in photo. Graduated in 2017 with that degree. And immediately, I was applying for like graphic design jobs. Also, throughout my collegiate years I was working retail. I think most people who start out in New York have like retail nightmares or some type of food service industry nightmares. Worked retail. Was still freelancing with photography. Babysat. Did like dog walking for a while. Just doing anything that could sustain myself creatively. Going to Fashion Week photographing some of the social media influencers sitting outside and just kind of like still getting my name out there. But photography had never left me. That was something that I always had up under my belt and something that just really stuck to me since I discovered it in my teenage years.

    Going into the graphic design world, I was interviewing. I had a few internships where I worked for a few agencies. Mostly like social media agencies. Because I feel like during that time, social media was really going into that world of like, “Okay, this is a marketing tool. This is a way to make money. This is a way to really promote your brand and who you are as a brand.”

    I feel like that was during a time when that buzz around like an individual person being a brand outside of like you selling goods and selling products, you as your own entity is a brand. That’s when I really start to hear more about that.

    I did art direction. I was a junior graphic designer at a social media agency. I realized I hated it so much. I did not like sitting at the computer for hours on end making revisions over and over again. Reverting back to another version of a direction that I did three versions ago and having to deliver it to a client and have a person like strip all that away. Like, “Actually, we don’t want to do this anymore.” It drove me crazy.

    And I realized that it wasn’t really fulfilling. I didn’t share the same passion. But I’m so grateful that I was able to accept that for myself and not feel guilty to my degree. Not feel guilty to the people that helped me through my university, through scholarships and grants because so many of the skills and the things that I developed to that point brought me to where I am today. But it took some time for me to realize that, “I’m not really feeling this. This isn’t really for me.” But I do think there are ways that I incorporate graphic design when I want into my photographic work.

    Mario: Yeah. You mentioned earlier that I guess part of your path was certainly influenced by also your family. And that your parents or at least your father is a creative and musician? I’m curious, did you learn any creative or professional lessons from him or from them?

    Myesha: Oh, yeah. From my father and my grandmother, who’s his mother, I learned that creativity and being a creative professional is really a hustle mentality. You’re constantly creating connections. You’re constantly networking with people. You’re constantly expanding and learning more about your gift and just the repertoire of your gift and how that can diversify your experiences and your growth.

    My father, he started playing the drums at the age of 13. And he was playing at like bars. He was a teenager in bars, gigging in Cleveland. But then that also expanded to church, you know? He spent a lot of time during praise and worship playing the drums there. Then that expanding to a few music festivals.

    He began to play at music festivals. And then a lot of those connections came from some of the bands that he was forming. So, different groups. He had a reggae band. And then he had like a more contemporary band where they played different varieties of music, including rock, and blues and jazz. Then the wedding band, where he curates his own team. So, he has a soloist, whereas like a bass soloist. And then a guitarist. And then the keyboard. And he’s also being in that position where he’s building out his teams. And I like to think that that’s similar to what I have to do when I’m looking for teams to join me on different sets. So, looking for a strong first assistant, or a strong second assistant, or a strong lighting director who can help carry out the vision. Or recommending makeup artists, and hair stylists and people that I know within my network to help achieve just different variety of looks and directions.

    I think that’s something that I didn’t realize I was taking note of. But even speaking to him on the regular basis and like talking to him about the growth and the professional leadership that you have to have. And also, just network and understanding people’s personal lives and staying true to the human aspect outside of the hustle is also really important.

    In the letters to a young poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, famously wrote, “Be towars the words all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

    When we are at the start of our creative calling or a career, it’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed. There are so many doors we can walk through, and sometimes progress can seem slow. But there are no strict recipes or secrets to walking down that path. There are some practices we can engage with; curiosity, learning, a growth mindset, courage and, last but not least, patience, which is essential no matter where we are in our careers.

    Here, Myesha shares her advice for young creatives.

    Myesha: When you’re first starting out as a creative professional, things might feel overwhelming to be in such competitive or seemingly competitive fields. It can lead us to really battle with ourselves. And I think during that time, the most important thing to focus on is your gift and the art that you create from your own perspective. I do believe that our capabilities are limitless outside of the opportunities that we feel are available. And I think the world literally lives within ourselves.

    And when you take a moment to sit down and really reflect on who you are and what you’re passionate about, it becomes a little bit easier to seed out everything else that is around you. Because the things that might be buzzing around you at that moment are not only fleeting but they’re trendy. And just because those things might feel important in that moment or significant in that moment doesn’t mean that it’s going to last.

    I think what always lasts the most is being 100% authentically you. And even for me, that was something that I had to kind of tap into coming out of University. Because when you’re doing jobs, and curating your resume and getting together your CV, your cover letter, you’re sitting out the same generic, “To whom it may concern. My name is Myesha Gardner. And I’m a graphic designer. And blah-blah-blah.” And you’re kind of like on autopilot with talking about yourself.

    When at that time, I’m a black girl from East Cleveland, Ohio. My hair was purple and it was a big fro. I feel like I was watering down who I really was. But once I started to really mention and add a little bit more character to who I was, and it was one woman at one of my creative agency jobs. I was a junior graphic designer intern about to get hired full-time. And I was still just looking for jobs and constantly searching. And there’s a woman. Her name is Love. I’m going to put her name out there, because just her name it kind of like is just so powerful to her being and just how she encouraged me.

    I remember she looked at my cover letter. She was like, “No, ma’am. This is not you. You are not this generic, watered-down version.” Like, “You’re Myesha Evon Gardner. You have purple hair. You come in. You light up the space. People, they want to hear about you, and who you are, and what you’re doing what you care about because it shows. The passion shows.”

    And once I started to really shift the language and make it more personable to me, I started to get so many more callbacks. Although I wasn’t securing those jobs, people were still interested in just getting an interview with me and wanting to hear more about, at that time, my graphic design portfolio, and what I was passionate about and what I wanted to work towards.

    Also, at that time, I didn’t have that much experience like most young professionals. But I was willing. And I also think that it’s people like that out in the professional world who they really want to see you take a chance. They really want to see you take risks. And they’re willing to take that risk. I don’t think that you’re necessarily limited to the opportunities that you see. But there’s one person in one room that sees you beyond the version that you see yourself. And it’s always that person that’s willing to push you, or encourage you, or support you in some unexpected way.

    Mario: Yeah, that’s amazing. And I think for that, I mean, you just, quote and quote, which can also be difficult, just put yourself out there and, yeah, try to unpeel and be as professional and as authentic as possible, navigate all of that. And you need a good dose of patience often.

    Myesha: Patience is the word of the year. Patience is the word of my year.

    Mario: Okay, can you further explain?

    Myesha: For me, not even just creatively and professionally, but personally, patience has just been a theme of like my experiences. And I think it comes from the pace of the world, the pace of New York City, which I’ve always loved. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to live in New York City. I just love the hustle. I love the movement, the motion of people. Every day is just different. When you’re out in the world and just running into people or having full circle moments, I’ve always been so inspired and motivated by the emotion and the pace of New York.

    But within that same chaotic movement and energy, there is the New York mindset and the mentality where like things are happening quickly enough. We’re on a train, and train is delayed and somebody’s frustrated because they have somewhere to be. Or we’re sitting in traffic and everybody’s honking. Like, I realized that we don’t have patience for time.

    If anything is an inconvenience to us, there’s this like sense of, “Oh, we’re losing control of our world. Or we’re losing control of what’s happening around us.” When I think time is one thing that we absolutely cannot control. That’s the one thing that we really have to surrender to and really allow it to activate for itself.

    And it took me a while to really come to grabs with that because I think it’s something that has to be developed over time with maturity, with understanding, with experience. To have patience, you really have to just release and relinquish that control. You have to be comfortable with not knowing what’s next. You have to really embrace inconveniences.

    Especially as a photographer, I think so much of what I do is really based on experiences, and conversations and being an observer. So, to sit down and just waiting for a moment to happen in front of me, I have to really sit back, remove myself from time and just merely be an observer. And allow those things to speak to me when it’s right, when the timing is right.

    I just remember specifically the pandemic, I think everybody can relate to this, just the anxiety that evolved over time and not knowing what tomorrow was going to bring. Being on lockdown and just like being so out of control of what was happening outside, I feel like I lost all my patience. I wasn’t allowing myself to really sit with myself in that solitude and really understand at the beginning. And really understand that, just with time, things would get better.

    But I think a lot of that mindset in that mantra is really guided by just like having faith in the universe, and having faith in God and just understanding how all of those things kind of translate into the movement of my world. And it’s still a challenge. It’s still a challenge. And I find myself having to remind myself, “Okay. This, too, shall pass.”

    Even with traveling. Traveling is probably the most inconvenient, unexpected delayed experience right now for me. Really just allowing things to operate on their own frequency is really important to accept during this journey of being patient.

    At this point in our conversation, I was curious to hear about Myesha’s work schedule, routines and rituals, and how she manages different facets of her practice.

    Myesha: One thing that I really love about being a freelance creative entrepreneur, I guess, that’s a great title to give, no day is the same. Average does not exist in my world. It fluctuates so often. Every week is different. Every day is different. And I love that because I’m so liberated from routine.

    And although I think routine and having a structure is really helpful towards being disciplined, in some ways, I think, as a creative, for me at least in the way that I operate, I’ve just love that every day is different. I love that each day is kind of bringing its own challenge. I love that each day is bringing its own set of responsibilities, its own set of objectives. Each day is really different.

    Some weeks can be super busy. I find myself answering emails, retouching notes, editing, curating selects, Zoom calls, putting together EQ lists. It can be anything. But there are some weeks that are really, really, really, really slow. There are some weeks where every day is really a moment to take care of personal things at home or personal projects that I might have put on the back burner.

    I recently just moved into my own apartment this year, this past April, it’s my first time living on my own. And if somebody would have told me that it takes nine months basically to, or maybe more, to basically move in and get a couch and make a decision on how you want your space to look, it really takes a lot of time. Another word of where patience really plays in.

    Mario: Yeah.

    Myesha: Having time to really nurture my own space versus my professional environment and really allowing my profession to speak to my space is different. And that’s one thing that I really love about what I do. I love that no day is the same. Routines don’t really work in my world because they change so often. And outside of the routines, professionally, personally, I wake up every day, I meditate, I pray. I try to go to the gym. Not every day. But I go to the gym maybe three times out of the week, which is like very, very inherent to my daily life, my energy. It really sets the tone for my day.

    But outside of that, other routines can vary. It can vary on the day. It can vary on the time. I try to spend as much time as I can in a dark room because that really helps me disconnect from the outside world and create more of an exploration within Myself and my eyes. I spend a lot of time in the dark. But to find the light not in a very, not like in a dark way, in a very uplifting, and inspire and light bulb moment kind of way, which I’m really grateful for. But to me, routines don’t really work. They don’t work for my lifestyle professionally.

    Mario: You mentioned that you’ve moved into a new place and that you also wanted to kind of curate it in a way that it reflects you and what you do. I’m curious, is that also like your workspace? Or do you have an office that you go to or a studio?

    Myesha: I have various workspaces. I like to sit on the floor a lot when I’m working. I think, for me, just surrounding my space. I have a massive collection of books, art books, photo books, graphic design books, books about autonomy, books about hands and anatomy. It’s like I have a beautiful library of books.

    I’m also surrounding myself with artwork, paintings, photographs. Framing work that I’ve done and hanging it up into my space is also really inspiring to my environment. Right now, I don’t have a home space to work out of. And I kind of work at my kitchen table. Or I go to a coffee shop and work. But I also have homies and friends who have studio spaces that they are so kindly to let me work out of from time to time.

    I think, for me, with my home, I really wanted to separate home from work. I think during the pandemic I got very, very, very comfortable with working in bed. And it wasn’t healthy for my creativity, and my focus and my energy. For this space, I really wanted to create that distinction.

    And I went to look for studios for a while. But right now, rent cost is...things are crazy. Inflation and just the economy.

    Mario: Yeah.

    Myesha: It’s at an all-time high at the moment. But eventually, I would like to work towards having like my own studio space in a space that I can strictly work out of. I can shoot test shoots. I can kind of go and experiment and just have a flow for myself. But right now, I really wanted to create that distinction.

    And because so much of my work is based on really being physically out into the world, photographing people, having conversations, that is my office. My office is being on location, being on set, being outside traveling. That’s my office. That’s where I really get to work. And then I bring it back home or bring it back to a space where I can kind of like expand on that in that way.

    Mario: Yeah. And you mentioned before also how, for each shoot or project, you’re creating different teams. Or you’re being one of the people chosen for certain teams. How does that play out on a weekly basis? Do you have like a team or some people that you work on an ongoing basis? Or are you more like solo? How does that work?

    Myesha: I definitely maintain a Rolodex of people that I can reach out to. I really love to work with a handful of folks that understand my workflow and how I operate and my creative energy when I’m on set. I love to be surrounded by people who are energetic, and active,0 and positive and enthusiastic to be there. Curious, helpful, problem solving. And also, patient and attentive. I think those are the types of creatives. And not even just creatives, but people that I like to surround myself with.

    I have my go-to lighting director. I have my go-to first assistant. But I also remain open to that person who I do have people that reach out to me. And like I would like to explore a little bit more in the photographic world. If you ever need a third assistant, or if you need any help. I definitely try my best to keep those people in mind because they tend to be really eager, and excited and willing to work, and learn and expand as much as possible.

    I typically try to create space for those opportunities to present themselves over my personal work, so I’m able to really monitor how people flow throughout a day, throughout a shoot. And then bring them on a more professional, larger set. Because I just think it’s important to pass down that knowledge and, again, give those people those opportunities that they may not have been able to get.

    Mario: And you work as a photographer. You also do art direction, creative direction. I’m curious, kind of how do you manage all those different roles? How does that play out in your day-to-day?

    Myesha: I think a lot of my work, they coexist with one another. It’s hardly ever anymore that I’m only doing creative direction, or only doing art direction, or only doing photography. They are all kind of like in one bucket in my world, which is really dope.

    In the beginning, I focused on the graphic design world. And then I had to incorporate art direction into my graphic design where I started to love art direction even more than graphic design. Then I kind of like graduated and married those two ideas together where I did a few freelance jobs in like 2018, between 2017 and 2018, where I was giving some art direction and photo art direction for a brand, a rebrand, for the WNBA. That was like a project where I was able to morph those worlds into one.

    In terms of creative direction now, in preparation of my shoots, sitting down and figure out set design, and locations, compositions, shot lists. All of those things are kind of bringing out the creative direction, the art direction, but into photography. But then also me being the person that’s able to photograph it, and direct it and bring it together with the team. They all come together. They all work together, which I’m really, again, grateful for. It doesn’t feel like I’m balancing them. It feels like they’re kind of morphing into one thing, to one project, which is really dope.

    Mario: You mentioned that, I guess, work routines don’t work that well for you, I guess? But do you have any, let’s say, maybe work rituals? Or like kind of little things that perhaps maybe ground you or something that you incorporate? It could be with shoots, or not, or when you’re retouching, or whatever. But is there any rituals that you have?

    Myesha: I like rituals. It feels so much more relatable and solid for me, because I I think routines is, again, it’s something that just doesn’t work for me. But I do think that rituals are a little bit more sacred and a little bit more of a passage to the things that we’re just really passionate about.

    But for me, the dark room is my ritual. Being, again, disconnected from the outside world. You can’t have your phone. Everything that you’re working with is light sensitive. You have to remove anything that will screw up your process from that space.

    And it’s one space where I feel like I get the most ideas to kind of try more things in the future. It’s one space where I feel I could really explore my experimentation because that’s one thing about being a photographer that I love. And when I look back at photographers from generations before me, like Gordon Parks, or Helmut Newton, or Irving Penn, they were constantly experimenting. They weren’t just known for one thing. They weren’t just photographing one perspective. Their portraiture work versus their still life work where they worked with more inanimate objects. Or their landscape work where they photograph more environments. It goes to show the diversity, and experimentation and the process that was involved with kind of maintaining their career.

    And I think for me, being in the dark room, traveling is a ritual for me as well and just kind of incorporating those experiences into some articulation of my creativity, or my creative experiences, or my social experience. Because so much of what I do is inspired by what I see, and what I feel, and what I hear and what I observe. I feel like most of those ideas come from those types of rituals.

    It doesn’t really come from being on a computer and pulling a ton of images and making a mood board for me. Even though I think that’s a really helpful exercise to articulate a vision. I love to watch films. I love to spark inspiration from books. Constantly looking at books. Taking photos of what I see. I’m just using my iPhone. Walking in a park and just watching what’s happening around me. How people are operating around me? And using those pieces as inspiration into my work.

    And I think that’s why I’m so drawn to intimacy and emotion as a form of expression and art. I think my work can be described as moody, and emotional and intimate. And people kind of see like the humanness in my work and they kind of see the humanness of some of the subjects in my work because I’m so inspired by how people feel in that moment and wanting to articulate that as much as possible.

    Mario: I would like to kind of follow that thread a little bit further, if you don’t mind, with I guess a more personal question. And you kind of mentioned that in passing before, some of the things. But I’m curious if you have any, let’s say, spiritual practice? If you would be willing to mention that.

    Myesha: Yeah, my spiritual practice is definitely an abundant mindset. I believe in God. I have faith in the universe. I believe that God controls all things around us and. I believe that he is the provider and the eyes to this journey, this unknown journey for me. And I’ve always had faith. And I find peace and prayer. I find peace and meditation. I find peace and just really allowing the forces outside of me to operate in unison to really direct and guide me in my journey.

    Mindful meditation, for sure. Really taking a moment to connect with nature. Being outdoors. Not like exploring outdoors, but really like. Recently, I was in Jamaica. I went to Montego Bay. And anytime I travel, wherever I am, I just make sure at one point I take my shoes off. I take my socks off. And I just really get grounded wherever I am.

    I let my feet hit the soil, hit the sand, hit the gravel wherever I am. I just want to feel whatever energy that I can feel from nature. Nature is one thing that I don’t care how many pictures of the sunset you have in your phone. You can always look at the sun and be like, “Oh, my God, this is so beautiful.” That is something for me that I know is a force that lives beyond me. That, also, the forces of nature is something that I’m inspired by, in my work, in my creative process, in my just encouragement to myself. I guess those are some of the spiritual practices that I have in my day-to-day when I travel and beyond.

    Hey, friends, we’re in the middle of this episode. So, it’s time for a short break. If you like this podcast, I’m confident you’re going to enjoy the Creative Voyage monthly edit. Every month, we ask a new creative professional to curate 10 brief recommendations, including books, articles, products, videos and podcasts, which serve to inform and inspire. And we deliver them exclusively to your inbox. It’s a newsletter curated by creatives for creatives. To sign up, visit creative.voyage/newsletter. Thanks, everyone. Let’s get back to the show.

    As creatives, managing our finances appropriately and confidently can be a perennial challenge for most of us. Here, Myesha shares how she views this topic, including her mindset and how it relates to her general way of being.

    Myesha: My financial practices are definitely contingent on, not even contingent, it kind of passes the same practices as my spiritual mindset. I do think in abundance. I really try to encourage myself not to think in scarcity. Money is a man-made tool to create levels of power structures and power dynamics within our society. And I think that financial success doesn’t define your creative success. I think success is how you make it.

    I do think as working and creative professionals, it is important to strike a balance between the work that you make for money versus the personal work that you have to invest into. For me, obviously, commercial work. It brings in the chickens. Commercial work keeps me living the lifestyle that I can afford to live in a city like New York.

    But on the other side of that, there’s a really important practice that should be considered when going back into your personal work. And that’s something that I think has to develop over time.

    In the beginning, you might be working just to make money. You’re working just to put food on your table and take care of your family or take care of your pets, whatever your lifestyle might be. Whereas now, I think as you start to grow, well, as I started to grow and people became more familiar with my work, I was granted this certainty and optimism and security with knowing that something always is available. There’s always an opportunity available. There’s always a job waiting for you with your name on it.

    Even during times where I’m bidding for a job and there’s other photographers, some of which are my peers, they’re bidding for commercial jobs and they get them. I don’t think, “Oh, I lost this. I’m not going to be able to get this money again. Or this opportunity won’t come my way. I won’t be able to work with this brand again.” I do think that things come back around. And they come back around in an even bigger and more meaningful way than you would probably expect it. I think that’s a part of my spiritual practice, kind of trickling down into my financial practices and aspect of my work and just how I navigate it. But I do think it’s tough. I think it can be tough. But it’s only tough if you put energy into the negative side of it.

    If you’re proactive, if you’re doing outreach, if you’re connecting with people going to different events, talking about your work, those are all investments that can work for you eventually financially in the future. But that’s not the main driver of this. I think passion is what pays off. I think remaining passionate about what it is that you love. What is that you care about? What it is that you want to say? Those things always pay off way more than any check that comes into your bank account.

    As individuals, we need to nurture our development. Otherwise, we might find ourselves as a professional or spiritual stalemate. I was curious to hear how Myesha is navigating those dynamics. Here, we discuss the importance of intentional daily practice and the best investment she keeps making in herself.

    Myesha: I think traveling is one of the best investments that I make for myself personally. When you travel, you really get to expand on your experiences and on cultures and environments that you’re just not familiar with. And there’s been so many times where I’ve traveled and had interaction, or a conversation, or food, or seeing art, or seeing nature and just kind of really taking in that world so much that it shifts my appreciation. It shifts not only my perspective, but like my journey and the things that I want to pursue moving forward. That’s not even just one thing. I think it’s the multiple investments.

    I think waking up every day and choosing to continue this journey is an investment. It’s like it’s an essential and daily investment. I don’t even think it’s just one thing that made me, “Oh, yeah, I paid five thousand dollars for this course. And then this is the investment that I made for myself.” I think that the investment as a creative freelancer is to choose it no matter what. Choose it when it feels good. Choose it when it feels bad. Choose it when it feels uncertain. No matter what, you’re still choosing to continue your journey and your own aspect of what it means to be a creative professional or what it means to be a creative individual. I think that’s the real investment.

    Mario: Yeah, the investment into the practice.

    Myesha: Yeah, the daily practice.

    Mario: Whatever you’re pursuing.

    Myesha: Exactly. I will say though, recently, speaking of courses. I took a course. Because one of the challenges that, again, I was having was with patience. And that being the word of the year for me professionally, creatively, individually. I took a course at this local photography foundation where they teach alternative processes to different people. It could be anybody. It’s open to the public.

    And I just found myself being really impatient with my outcome of some of my work. Not being pleased with what I saw right away. I think with social media and just the direction that we drive, content, even the direction that we drive experiences. I saw a woman on TikTok the other day. And every month she was showing like she was pregnant. Every month she was showing her progress. And she was like, “I’m one month today. I’m five months today.” And she was just showing how big her belly was getting. And then she just had the kid after month 10. When I’m just like, “That’s not really how pregnancy works.” It’s not that easy. It’s not just like, “Month, month, month. Here’s a baby.” It’s like it’s very excruciating experience. I mean, it’s painful. And you got to have a lot of patience. And you have to be uncomfortable. Women go through a very uncomfortable bodily experience. They’re a vessel to a human being. That’s not anything that you can put in a 30 second video.

    I felt like there was a lot of pressure kind of trickling down from the commercial world, even from the editorial world, where I had to have all of the brightest ideas right then and there. And I was subconsciously applying that to my personal work. Where, in my personal work, this is the most freedom that I have. This is the most time that I can take with myself, my exploration, my curiosity, my questions, my not knowingness. Just not being sure about what decisions I want to make.

    I took a course where I used some alternative processes. It’s a process called Albanian Printing. And you basically print on this egg wash paper. And you’re taking like digital files. And it’s not a secret. It’s not something that is just withheld from people. This information, it’s out in the world. It’s just one of the oldest printing photographic processes in the world. Before printers, there was like natural materials that people were making.

    We separated five dozen eggs, which was gross. It was so smelly. We separated five dozen eggs from the yolk and the egg wash and we created a mixture to soak this paper in to create a surface. We dipped it in silver. And it’s the same process that you kind of use in a dark room. But instead of using darkness, you use UV light to print an image onto the surface of paper. And you can create digital negatives. That was something that I was never aware of. I didn’t know that even existed.

    I’m taking photos from my phone. I’m taking photos from film scans that I turned into digital files. I’m taking digital files. I’m just trying everything. Because I’m just like, “Who knows? Who knows what I might discover? Who knows what might happen?”

    And I just found myself rediscovering ways to approach my work in a non-digitized way, and in a way that’s not just like, “One, two, three. Boom! Here’s the process.” And it’s this beautiful thing. No. Here’s a painfully long process that’s going to take this step. If you mess up anything, you can mess up the entire process. You can mess up the entire experience. This is what you have to focus on first.

    Separate these five dozen eggs to create this mixture. That is going to be how you print your image. And just wanting to bring back something that takes time. Something that takes a great amount of focus. Something that takes a great amount of kind of like one-track mindfulness. You really need to be attentive. You really need to be in that moment. That was a way that I wanted to challenge myself. To just remind myself that I can take my time with my personal work.

    Commercial clients, yes, we needed it yesterday. Editorial clients, yes, we need it tomorrow. But with the personal work, you could take your sweet time. You can make mistakes. You can print it, rip it up, glue it back together and it’d be something beautiful or not, and that’s okay.

    Mario: Do you have any other ways that you’re, I guess, making sure that you don’t get caught up only in like the work at hand? The commercial demands or whatever you need to do? And to actually work on stuff like this on that? Or growth as a person, or as a business owner and so on?

    Myesha: Yeah, I think just as important as it is to create new work is really important to maintain the work that you have created. Maintaining your archive. And also, looking back at traditional photographers and just how long... There’s one photographer named Susan Meiselas. She’s one of my favorite, favorite, favorite photographers. She is a kind of more documentary style. She’s also a Magnum photographer. But she is based in New York.

    She did a series of projects where she photographed a group of people or just a subculture over time. And there’s one project that’s called Prince Street Girls. She’s been photographing since 1975. She photographed them from 1975 to, I think, 2016. She met these girls like riding her bicycle down in Little Italy 35 years ago. And this group of girls, you know how you flash, like, the sunlight from a mirror and it reflects and can like blind you? That happened to her. And she was just so fascinated by these group of girls. They’re all like young Jewish girls and Italian girls living in Little Italy.

    She photographed them over a course of 35 years. She photographed them at the beach, on the train, walking down the street, going to school in their school skirts and dresses. She spent a great deal of time with them going into high school, going to prom, coming of age, getting married, graduating college. She documented them for years. And it just made me really appreciate the time that it takes to develop a story, to develop a real-life perspective and experience as a photographer. It’s not just about recreating your world.

    There’s different versions and genres of photography where you’re either creating a sub-universe of this fantasy world that you want to see. But then there’s also people who really appreciate real life, and daily life and everyday life. And the mundane things that are happening around us are being fascinated by people that that don’t look like us.

    But her work in 1975 is like a massive inspiration to me. And just seeing how much time that she really had to take spending with these girls to develop such a vast story. But it’s work like this that I see that I’m like, “Okay, I can apply something like this to my personal work.” There are stories that I can tell that takes time to develop those relationships with the subjects. To create that trust with subjects. And to kind of like find something to commit myself to outside of the commercial commitment or the editorial commitment. It’s like really understanding how I can apply myself and challenge myself in those ways. That’s one way, I think, helped strike that balance yeah. And I will always tell people and reminder for myself to just take my time.

    There’s one personal project that I’ve been working on I started in 2020 and it’s still ongoing. It’s still very fragile and kind of like casting throughout the years. And I’ve done a few experimental shoots. It’s a portrait. Kind of docu-style. And the topic is related to like body imagery and the perception of beauty. But that’s something that changes over time. And that’s something that I need to phase out through conversations, and interviews and connections with different people.

    I just want to make sure that I’m giving myself the patience and the attention that I know is needed in the same ways that Susan Meiselas started with these girls in 1975 to 2016. That’s the same approach.

    In a 2021 article on HYPEBAE, Myesha Evon Gardner observed, “Beauty is not found. It just is. And I believe that every person, place or thing has a beautiful story that it’s worth being told. Someone just needs to see that. And their in is the true gift of being a photographer.”

    I love Myesha’s photography, the style, the experimentation and the themes. Here, I was eager to discuss her craft including her relation to gear and technique, analog photography, her approach to shooting portraits, thoughts on trends and her photographic point of view.

    Myesha: What do I bring to the table as a photographer today? I bring my own tools. I bring my own tools. I bring my own material. I bring my own finish, my own varnish to paint the table. I build my own table. I do my own thing. I try not to go to a table that’s not meant for me to serve my own purpose.

    I think my work is about storytelling. And I examine the truth by documenting and redefining different things within cultures and communities that surround me, specifically with legacy and family, the perception of beauty, familial love, intimacy and under represented communities throughout society.

    There are a lot of subjects of vanity, and body and self-reflecting portraiture where I study people, and emotions, and joy, and happiness and understanding how that can be framed through the things that they’re passionate about, the things that they love and showing up authentically as themselves. And showing just that, I think that I have a special connection to people and connecting with people who are not used to being photographed. Connecting with people who are not used to being in front of the camera.

    Working well with models and people who do that as a profession as well. But really, having the most unconventional subjects in front of my lens. Most people that get in front of my camera are usually like, “I’m not used to being photographed.” Or, I’m not a model. I don’t really know how to do this.” And then showing them a perspective that they haven’t had the chance to see for themselves. And really allowing them to feel celebrated, and appreciated and seen in that moment whoever they are. It doesn’t really matter if they’re famous, or all the accolades that they’ve done, or how many Grammys they got, or whatever. It’s more just about this point and time, this moment in time. And really giving grace to that moment.

    Mario: Yeah. In one of your interviews I’ve read, or maybe it was a podcast. I’m not sure actually. But you mentioned that your camera opens up conversations for you.

    Myesha: Yeah.

    Mario: Can you further explain what do you mean by that?

    Myesha: I think that I love to remind people that there’s a person behind this lens outside of the intimidation people might see when you’re looking into a lens. If you’ve been photographed before, you can really see the reflection of yourself and you’re trying your best to look your best. You’re kind of like hyper focused on, “I’m going to give them the best angle that I can give.” So much that you get into your own head about posing, or movement, or just natural mannerisms, or I don’t know. Things that you may not love so much about yourself. Or things that you might be a little bit more self-conscious about.

    But I love to just remind people that there is a person behind this camera. And although we do want to get a gorgeous shot out of this, I also want to know more about who you are as a person and where you came from. What did you eat today? It could be any type of conversation. Because so much of my work and what I do, it involves really documenting the human experience.

    I think it’s naturally drawn. Like, conversation is naturally drawn into my process and it’s really important. It’s not just you come in front of my camera, “Click! Click! Click! We’re done.” We have to make a connection. We have to establish who we are as people and where we came from. And even what similarities we might have? I think that’s also it’s all just really special to the photographic experience. And that’s one thing that has always kept me curious, is knowing just how many people I can connect with in that way.

    Mario: Yeah, that’s amazing. And it sounds like that really comes very naturally to you.

    Myesha: Yeah, it always has. It always has, for sure.

    Mario: What you describe now is also think a very good general tip kind of how to achieve probably a better portrait or have a better portrait session. But of course, if that actually comes not just from like, “Okay, I got this tip. But I’m actually genuinely interested and authentic.” That’s a completely other story. And people feel that.

    Myesha: Yeah, for sure.

    Mario: How do you, I guess, judge an image, I assume? And when you analyze an image? Even your own image or when you look at an image from your favorite photographer, what do you look for? What does it make it like a good photograph for you? Is there something general?

    Myesha: I mean, I think anything that we do, anything that creative people do is so subjective to who you are. What I might think is beautiful, somebody else probably wouldn’t take a second glance at it. But for me, the first thing that I look at in portraiture, specifically, is body language.

    I think outside of any composition, outside of colors and all of the fluff and the things that make things really pretty, body language really speaks so strongly to what a person is feeling in that moment in an image. And again, I think body language is the truth. It kind of shows what’s exactly happening in that instant moment and maybe how a person was feeling in that instant moment.

    Depending on that image, depending on the body language, depending on maybe the posture of the person, it can convey different levels of emotions and feelings. And I always love to look at a photograph and think about how it makes me feel. I love to understand what I feel in that moment versus what the photographer wanted to convey in that moment.

    And then I start to look at the composition, and the colors, and the quality and the tones. I think, right now, because of social media, we want to make everything really pretty. We want to make everything really warm. We want to make everything really saturated and colorful. We want people to look at our work and be like, “Oh, my God, this is beautiful.” But to look at somebody and see how they really felt, it speaks to me personally more.

    And then I look at everything else and then I appreciate everything else. When you think about a person like Gordon Parks, again, who’s one of my favorite photographers, he has a book that’s called Photography: A Choice of Weapons. And he described his camera as a choice of weapons. He wrote how the 35-millimeter camera might be more effective than an actual gun. And how it was really a tool that he used to show his truth. He came from a very poor, impoverished neighborhood. And people, when you look at the archive of Gordon Parks and where he photographed, he photographed what was around him. But he also went to life the publication and could photograph beautiful portraits of models in New York city streets in like the 1950s. But you can also see some of that same beauty, and honesty, and emotion in some of his more docu-style work.

    I think that it’s really a treasure to understand what control and power you have with people that are lens through your camera as a photographer. What traditional Notions you might be disrupting socially, creatively, spiritually, whatever. And I think Gordon Parks was a person who really live the quintessential black experience during a time where it was the Great Depression where an organization actually hiring photographers to photograph impoverished communities across the U.S while he was also turning his camera on the struggling white farmers in those areas. Not just struggling black folks during that time. But showing almost the diversity of struggle and how that can be expanded outside of blackness. That to me is really powerful. And again, shows that diversity in the work, the diversity and perspectives, in how the beauty, and emotion, authenticity and body language can be articulated from a photographer’s perspective.

    Mario: Yeah, it sounds to me that you’re very, I think, rooted in a good way. Like, I think a lot of kind of archetypes and like kind of more timeless themes that you’re exploring. I’m curious, how do you relate to trends or something which is more trend-based? Or do you even work with that in some way?

    Myesha: I can’t say I necessarily work with trends. I think I appreciate them for what they are because they definitely, they have to exist. I think they’ve existed since the beginning of time, especially in the creative and fashion editorial world.

    For me, I try to embrace the things that make me different from other photographers because I do think in a lot of ways because of mood boarding, because of Pinterest, because of Tumblr, because of the Internet, we’re all processing the same imagery in the same approach especially in commercial work.

    I’ve been in so many spaces where clients would love what I do. And a lot of clients would come to me wanting me to do the same things over and over and over again. And while I think that’s a good thing, I also think it could be detrimental if that’s all of the work that you’re producing. And that’s why I’m such an advocate for making personal work because it’s my personal work that has gotten me further ahead. It’s my personal work. It’s the jobs that, not even the jobs, but it’s the work that I’ve done randomly just based off with passion and collaboration with friends.

    There’s one shoot that I did with one of my friends. She’s an amazing stylist. Her name is Chas Chevonne. She’s based here in New York and LA. And her and I, we did a shoot after a week. I was on set for a week at that time. I was assisting. And it was a five-day shoot for a big commercial client. I was like second assistant. Each day was like 12-hour days, 10-hour to 12-hour days. And her and I went to a studio. We got a model. We got a team together. She had some clothing from another job that it wasn’t being used. We shot just a series of portraits and editorials that we were initially going to push for a magazine spread. Nobody was really hearing us or picking up the photos. We still published them and promoted them just naturally. So many people. And we shot that until three o’clock into the morning. Three AM, we were at the studio. I hand-printed the photos. I colored them. I spent a lot of time with them. Getting text messages, “Oh, when are the photos going to come out? I want to see them.” Like, that’s another thing as a photographer that you get you feel that pressure from people wanting to see what you did. But I really took my time.

    That photo is like, 87% of the time, it’s on the mood board. 87% of the time, it’s something that the client is referencing something that they want to see more of. But to me, again, it just goes to show like the power of what it means to really take your time and how it can pay off for you in the future.

    I try not to really focus on trends. I really try to focus on doing different things and having different creative approaches. Having different creative processes. Still experimenting with light. Still experimenting with darkness as well. Because I think people think the only advantage to photography is light. There’s also beauty in darkness. And really allowing those things to apply.

    I think it’s easy to create very beautiful, even portraiture. But to go and create some type of storyline or telling one story in one scene, in one set, in one image is also an even bigger challenge that I want to continue to explore my work.

    Mario: You mentioned dark room. You shoot analog. I assume you also shoot digital. How’s your, I guess, relation with the gear? How do you work with those two worlds?

    Myesha: I’m so confident in my work and my eye that I feel like I can shoot on anything. It doesn’t matter. I started off on a pinhole camera, which is a cardboard box with light sensitive paper and the tiniest hole to like reflect light onto the image, onto the paper. And it really taught me how to compose an image. It really helped me to create understanding around light and how light is essential to what I do. But then also, again, how darkness is equally as essential to what I do.

    I had a teacher in high school who really nurtured that understanding for us. Her name is Tony Sterinsky. And she really gave us the tools of photography. Understanding the practices. Understanding the techniques. Understanding all of those dynamics.

    From the pinhole camera, I graduated to 35-millimeter camera where I spent so much time in a dark room at that time. I remember I was doing a series where I was photographing the dance majors at my school, all the ballet dancers. I was photographing their feet because I was just so fascinated by how beautiful, and elegant and soft their movement was. But their feet was like it would show up with like scars, and blisters and Band-Aids. And just how that correlation between pain and beauty is a resemblance of each other.

    I was processing one image in a dark room with one of my friends. She was like in first position, which is like a plie, on like two feet, really close together. And she was on this stool. I was going back into the dark room over and over and over and over again to the point where my teacher came after school and was like, “Myesha, you have to go home now like. School is over. We’re closing up the shop. We got to wrap it up.” But I was just taking my time with that.

    And then I graduated to digital where I just explored a whole lot more of the world of processing, and photoshop and learning how I could manipulate some images. But also, I was using a scanner bed. I was scanning flowers. Taking different flowers from my teacher at the time, she was bringing flowers from her garden. And we were scanning in flowers and creating images. I sold a few prints of those. There are different ways that you can compose a photograph outside of photographic gear, things that might be labeled as photographic gear. And the same ways that I was recomposing images with the alternative processes that I was learning about within the last few months.

    For me, I’ve shot on disposable cameras, but like really beautiful images where I would then take the negatives. Bring those disposable 35-millimeter strips into the dark room. Hand color, hand print them. Create a different type of mood and environment just through color alone. That to me is, it’s so far behind. Like, obsessing over gear and having things be like the most expensive. Don’t get me wrong. There are some things that are really awesome to have. Like, any type of medium format, 6x7 camera. Every photographer who’s a film photographer loves a Mamia 6, 7, or a Pentax 6, 7. And they can obsess over the Carl Zeiss glass and 80-millimeter. That’s a photographic nerd talk.

    But when you’re going into just like experimentation, and for me, I’m more interested in making something beautiful out of a box camera and just seeing what comes out of that and seeing just how imperfect it is, or seeing how flawed it is, or seeing just some details in the negatives that you may not be able to see in digital because it is optimized for almost perfection in so many ways.

    Mario: Amazing. It’s great to hear a bit about how you think about things. Because I just, so far, only saw your work.

    Myesha: Yeah.

    Mario: It’s amazing to hear also about it.

    Myesha: Thank you.

    Mario: And especially inspiring also to just hear how you’re experimenting a lot with just different gear and approaches and really trying to push that. And I guess, surprise yourself also with what you can discover. That’s cool.

    Myesha: Yeah. I think photography is so endless. It’s full of surprises. There’s like you can learn one thing and just be so unfamiliar with a million other things. And I think that the more you discover, for example, even with the I’m going back to that class. There was four people in a class. Well, there was an instructor, and two older white guys and me in this class. And the oldest student in that class was 85-year-old photographer who lived in New York. And he shoots portraits on this massive camera called a photogravure. And it’s like one of the oldest, largest cameras ever. And the process is really, really intense. I kind of, like, I’m trying to figure out a way to break it down that is like the easiest. It’s used to produce high-quality reproductions of photographs but in ink. And it’s like a positive transparency of a photographic image. It controls like the etching. But you can also print it on like a metal plate.

    A lot of early processes in photography, they use metal material to print images and like do like wet plate photography. This camera, it has to be about two feet wide and maybe I want to say 30 pounds. But this 85-year-old man was still here in this course, still staying curious, still seeing where his work can go. I’m sure he has his ways.

    And he was telling me how he has his own studio and his own dark room in his house. And he has his own approach. But just to see the curiosity and him just willing to still learn and see how far he can take his work, it was so inspiring to me. But it goes to show how diverse and how far you can push your work even when you feel like you’ve tried everything or you’ve tried a range of things in a photographic process world.

    Challenges are inevitable and play a crucial role in our human condition. As stoicism can teach us, while we do have some say in is how we respond to those obstacles. I was curious to hear how Myesha relates to this topic and asked her to share some of her past and current challenges.

    Myesha: I feel like if you’re not really growing, then maybe you’re not feeling challenged enough. I think that challenges really help with overcoming and also learning or just rediscovering things about yourself as an artist. And I think that they help to mold your perspective, and mold your approach and mold just how you navigate through the world.

    And for me, it’s been a lot of challenges. I’m trying to think of which one to really articulate. I think for me, one of the biggest challenges as a photographer and as a freelance photographer is maintaining consistency in your work, and really developing your eye and really understanding your point of view versus kind of going back to that conversation around trends. Understanding where you operate on that thin line. Because I think it’s easy to fall into a trend and try to create work that mimics other photographers and other creatives to get whatever visibility you might claim that you can get.

    And I think at the beginning of my career, moving to New York. Starting off as a young creative professional in the photographic world. I was creating work that I thought that people wanted to see. I was creating work that I felt would get me into the doors that I felt like I wasn’t getting into. That work wasn’t necessarily true to what I really wanted. It wasn’t necessarily true to what I really felt was empowering or powerful.

    This was like in 2014. I want to say 2015. I was going to fashion week. I was photographing. Looking at a lot of like white male photographers and looking how they were shooting and almost trying to mimic that style. And it just wasn’t true. It was one of those things that I felt like I did it to see how far it would take me. But I also realized it just didn’t work.

    It was a challenge to remove myself from my point of view and from a point of view that I felt like I was already encouraged to develop as such an early age. And once I had that rediscovery of myself as an individual, and the things that made me different and the things that made my work a little bit more less conventional than what was happening then, it was easier for me to overcome and understand what really worked for me. And that there were people, there were a ton of people out in the world that appreciated it so, so, so much. And those things start to come out as I started to commit myself more to my own voice and the things that I really cared about. That was like outside of it being a creative challenge. It was an emotional challenge because so much of what I do is based off of like really staying true to who I am.

    Being stripped away of that for a little bit was like it was a rediscovery process for me. And I had to find myself again and my work. And I’m glad that I was able to see that, and recognize that and then overcome that in so many ways.

    Mario: And at the moment, do you have anything that you’re struggling with or learning from?

    Myesha: I think the current challenges I might have at the moment is still continuing to take those risks. Again, not becoming so stagnant with doing all the things that you feel like are trendy and that the clients love. Because for a while, I felt like I was creating work that clients really wanted to see in my portfolio. Almost reverting back but in my own way. Because I kind of created and nurtured that skill or that look that everybody wanted it. But really trying to encourage my clients to take more risk and allow a more interesting select to really live on and have breath, you know? Not feeling so confined to images that feel safe or that feel like you just see the logo perfectly. Or really trying to push like my commercial clientele and even my editorial clientele to understanding the diversity of compositions, and directions and perspectives in my work when I’m making selects.

    I think, yeah, really encouraging myself and my clients to take more risk. Be a little bit more experimentational. And I think that translates more into the fine art world. Again, combining the fine art into the personal work to the point that people are coming to you for that look. And then you’re kind of reinventing that wheel as you experiment more.

    We’ve come to the last topic I’ve discussed with Myesha. As with previous guests, I’ve asked her to share three final pieces of advice based on what she learned so far on her professional journey.

    Myesha: Number one, passion pays off. That’s really my mantra. And I believe in it so strongly. I believe when you stay passionate, when you stay curious, when you continue to experiment, when you continue to explore and follow your creative impulses, not trends, you really delve deeper into yourself. You’re able to articulate what it is that you like. You’re able to seed out the things that are not for you to make it less of a distraction and really direct your focus into things that you care about.

    And I think the more where focus goes, energy flows. And the more that you direct your focus into the things that you feel, that’s what you will attract. Passion pays off. Stay passionate. That’s number one.

    Number two, I would say is a little bit more directed to maybe photographers. Maybe even designers. Make sure you archive all of your original work. Make sure you archive and shoot in higher resolution and raw files. If you’re sharing the work out into the world, if people are loving the work that you’re doing, you never know how those images might be repurposed or reused. They might create some type of residual income for you to make money in the future.

    And create some type of licensing agreement. That’s something that I’ve been learning a lot more. It’s not just about constantly making new work and making new things. But there are agencies and people that exist in a world who are looking for diverse and distinctive perspectives from photographers to compensate.

    And I think on the other side of that, I think this is a part of number two. Make sure you have your contracts in place. Make sure you have your model releases signed. Make sure that you stay connected with the subjects that you’re photographing. Because it could really save you and be a saving grace to you in the most unexpected ways.

    Number three, recommendations to be a better creative professional, I would say don’t sleep on your resources. Don’t sleep on the resources that are around you and that are in your network. I think there are a ton of people that surround you that see the passion, and the dedication and the consistency in you and your work. And they are willing to show up and support you in ways that are really, really worth that attention and that time.

    As much as you might receive from shadowing another photographer, or doing outreach, or reaching out to different people to learn under, there are people that are right next to you that can really nurture the creativity and the dedication that you have as a creator. The only way to really know and experience those things is to try them yourself.

    You can ask a person a million questions, but art and creativity is subjective to you and the ways that you do things. You really have to focus on your own perspective and how to articulate yourself for your audience to understand and then understanding the resources that you have and people around you to help push that even further. That’s something that I’m constantly doing.

    Hey, everyone. That’s it for this episode. I hope you found it useful. And if you like this podcast, tell a friend.

    I want to thank Myesha for this conversation. I love her remarkable work, and diving deeper into her creative world was a pleasure. I’m grateful for her insights and energy. Links to Myesha’s work and some other things mentioned during the conversation can be found in the show notes at creative.voyage/podcast.

    As mentioned at the start of this episode, until January 15th, we are accepting registration for the 2023 session of The Mindful Creative Year Workshop. We open registration once per year, and we have limited spots. If you are curious about joining a workshop and a year-long community that will provide support and accountability on your path of creating your best personal and professional year, visit creative.voyage/newyear.

    If you haven’t already, subscribe to this podcast. And if you feel generous, you can also rate and review the show. And lastly, Happy New Year. May it be joyful, crowded and creative. Till next time, my friends. Enjoy the journey.

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