Nesrin Danan is all about capturing the vibrancy of everyday life
Portland is herald as a creative hotspot, home to artists of all kinds. One of those is photographer Nesrin Danan.
She first discovered a love for creating vibrant images in a high school photography class, and has been sharing her work with the world ever since. Her work as appeared as photo spreads and advertisements for Seventeen, Bose, Revlon, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Urban Outfitters and Macy’s. She was also featured by Instagram Music’s official blog in her interview titled “More Art, Less Chaos.”
I don’t actually remember the first time I talked with Nesrin, but it has to be close to a decade ago over tumblr. Back then Nesrin was posting photos and snippets of her life to an audience that eventually amassed to 60,000 strong.
Today, at 24 years old and with a following more than 150,000, it feels like the best of what we will see from her is only to come.
I got to catch up with Nesrin recently, to talk to her about how she got her start, her favorite brands to work with, and how a global pandemic is affecting her work.
The early years
Sean: How did you get your start in photography?
Nesrin: I started shooting film in my darkroom class in high school. I got really into photography, both learning the technical aspects and developing film, and all the ways I could be creative with it and find my own style.
I started working with music artists and brands in college. And by the time I graduated with my degree, photography was my full-time job.
Drawn to the light
Sean: You could shoot anything starting out, why concerts?
Nesrin: I’d primarily describe my style as vibrant, which I quickly realized is so easy to capture and convey in a concert atmosphere. I just really love live music and everything about shows — the lighting, colors, smoke, pyro, etc. Those are some of my favorite details to play with when it comes to making the type of photos I find appealing. It’s fast paced and I learned how to work with the artist’s angles and movements to get the best shots. It’s definitely a learned skill, and I just enjoy pushing myself to get better each time I shoot a show.
Sean: Did you ever have a moment where you were like, damn, I’m really here right now?
Nesrin: Every time I’ve even been in a room with Drake I have literally asked myself that.
Influencing + inspiring
Sean: One thing I’m always curious about whenever I interview artists and people that have accumulated a following is how they feel about possibly inspiring some of those who watch their journey. I’d argue it’s impossible in today’s world to find someone that hasn’t either been inspired or brought joy from following another person.
As a black woman in this field how does it feel to know you have younger people that look up to you and see you as someone they aspire to emulate?
Nesrin: It’s an awesome feeling. I never really realized it growing up, but there weren’t a lot of widely-known POC (people of color) girls on tumblr or in the photography world for me to study or look up to at the time — and I so wish I had that. Hopefully I’ve inspired someone to believe that they can do whatever they set their mind to.
Sean: What has been your favorite brand to work with?
Nesrin: There are so many! Honestly I only partner with brands I actually like and use. If I had to choose… I really loved my Dr. Martens campaign. I also love working with Puma, Urban Outfitters and Western Digital — brands that I actually shop/use in my day-to-day life! I also shoot events for YouTube which is literally a dream job for me.
Weathering the pandemic
Sean: Right now 16 million Americans are self-employed — more than ever before. With some states considering those workers unqualified for unemployment benefits or pushing them to the bottom of the list, freelance artists are going to struggle for quite some time.
How has this craziness of the world right now impacted your work?
Nesrin: Yeah so a global pandemic isn’t amazing for someone who relies on constantly traveling and shooting photos in groups of people. My work has pretty much come to a complete standstill since events are canceled. The tour I was going to be on is now canceled, festivals are canceled, etc. A lot of brands have also halted all influencer campaigns since their retail stores and restaurants are no longer open! I’m doing a couple things that can be shot from home, but basically just waiting this out.
Talking with you today is a good reminder of just how vital freelance artists are to our economy, our local communities and each of our well-beings. I hope, when this virus passes, that we can all do more to support self-employed artists and small businesses.
In the meantime, I want to encourage people to reach out to the artists in your life and find out how you can help. Maybe it’s buying a gift card or booking a photo session or a music lesson for a future date. Maybe it’s sending them their favorite take-out. Whatever it is, do what you can to show some love to the community that we all depend on to inspire and cheer us up.
More Artistic Fuel
- Each week, we’re publishing articles, photo essays and Q&As on the art of photographer. Here’s why: Photography: Art for the Masses and the Maestro
- What Photographer Jake Rajs Taught Me About Life
- Miami Festival Highlights Beauty of Street Photography
Sean O'Donnell is an influencer and entrepreneur who resides in Los Angeles. Sean has appeared in various movies and television shows on networks such as ABC, Hulu, and Nickelodeon. He has brought his social media expertise to help some of the largest brands in the world including Dolce & Gabana, Ernst & Young, HP, Paramount, and more.