As part of our BIG Interview Friday series, we sit down with Fashion blogger & Self-taught Visual Photographer, Chidinma (@beautfull). Originally from Nigeria, Chidinma currently resides in New York.
I: What initially inspired you to start blogging?
C: During my second year in college, a fellow Nigerian told me I was “too African,” and then a friends cousin said the same thing! those words held a negative tonation which got me thinking, “Is it a crime to be proud of your heritage?” It’s funny because I rarely see other ethnic groups of people putting each other down for being proud of their culture. Their remarks inspired me to start my blog for the proud Africans that may feel they are alone. I started with a message to let them know that they never need to sell themselves just to belong. That’s how you lose yourself.
I: Did you face any challenges?
C: I wouldn’t call it a “challenge” per se, but there aren’t a lot of popular black bloggers. My personal challenge with my blog was, and still is trying to secure a readership while still being authentic. When I decided to start blogging, I made sure I had a clear sense of what I want my blog to be like and look like. I not only wanted it to be beauty and fashion blog, but I also desired it to be a creative outlet for myself and my fellow black creatives.
I: As a beauty blogger turned visual arts photographer, What or who inspired the change?
C: I took a break from blogging due to some personal issues but I couldn’t give up the photography aspect of it. I realized that although writing could be cumbersome, I loved taking pictures. Photography gives me the opportunity to capture beauty in a sometimes ugly world.
I: Had you always viewed yourself as a creative person, or was it a huge learning curve?
C: No way! if someone had told me years earlier I would call myself “artsy” someday, I would have told them they were lying. I was never good with arts. Although I appreciated it, I never saw myself as a creator – just an admirer. Yet, here I am!
I: Were your followers/subscribers receptive of the change?
C: Honestly, I’m not too sure but it does not matter to me (as harsh as it may sound!). Life is too short and too long to do things to please people. I do what I do for my personal happiness.
I: What are your proudest accomplishments?
C: I’m proud of the fact that I stepped out of my comfort zone to teach myself photography. It’s also a bonus when people compliment the work that is produced.
I: You seem very confident, was there ever a time you doubted your work? How did you overcome this?
C: I always doubt my work. There are so many great artists out there and every time I log on Instagram I discover another. It’s bittersweet because with each discovery, I gain a bit of inspiration – which then leaves me doubting my work or whether I’ll be good enough.
As an artist, once you believe you have gotten to the point where there is no room for improvement you become stagnant. You have to always try something new. I’ve learned that the key is to criticize the quality of your work, not your creativity.
I: What are your top 5 tips when it comes to using the camera?
C: My top tips are:
- Always shoot in manual as that is how you actually learn.
- Know your camera; meaning, spend time playing around with it and getting to know its functions before you start booking jobs.
- Make sure you have a full battery and a spare.
- Always shoot in RAW, especially if you intend to edit your photos.
- When it comes to Bokeh (blurry background) photography, I realized that the lower the f number, the more blurry the photos are. For example, an image shot at f/1.8 will have more bokeh than one shot at f/4.
I: Before each shoot, do you have a creative visual of what the picture should look like?
C: Before going on shoots, I have few ideas of what I’d like to do but when I get on site I become more creative. I try to use my environment to better my work.
I: What Camera lens do you use? and which lens or brand would you recommend for early starters?
C: I use Canon 50mm f/1.8, Canon 85mm f/1.8 and Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. I would recommend the Canon 50mm f/1.8 because it is an affordable lens that also takes great images.
I: What motivates/ inspires you?
C: My biggest motivation is my dream of being a cultural photographer. I’d love to tour Africa, showcasing its beautiful culture and people through photography.
I: Is there anybody in the photography world whose work you’d like to emulate?
C: Honestly no, I appreciate the work of others but I do not want to be like anyone. Art is very subjective, so my interpretation may be different from another’s. Why deprive the world of your uniqueness?
I: Aside from beauty/fashion blogging and photography, what are your interests?
C: I really love Poetry, reading, video games and I’m currently trying to teach myself to paint!
I: Looking at your profile, you seem very proud of your Igbo culture. Would you ever move back to Nigeria?
C: Yes. That has always been my plan, but with the current state of affairs in my home land, it may take a while before I’ll be able to do that.
I: Name three things you love about yourself and three things you wish you could improve on?
C: I’m a very goofy, honest person with the eagerness to learn. On the other hand, I’m not a punctual person (Nigerians and lateness!) – I could improve on my people skills and my indecisiveness .
I: Do you have any regrets?
C: No. I may sound cliche but I believe everything happens for a reason.
I: Is there anything else/a project you’d love to venture into in the future?
C: If i could venture into anything else, it’d be in business. I would like to be an entrepreneur.
I: Finally, what advice would you give to anyone looking to venture into photography?
C: Photography like every visual art is subjective so with that in mind, it’s okay for people not to understand or see what you see in your art. Diversity in the arts field helps improve your creativity. Another artist’s creativity is not an absence of yours. Lastly, when you are complimenting others of their mind blowing work, don’t forget to congratulate yourself!
To follow and connect with Chidinma, check out: