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An Interview with Nico Daniels

i-D loudly declared in April that we should "remember the name!" Nico Daniels, and that advice seems appropriate. The fifteen year old photographer has already made waves in the art world for converting his bedroom into a studio and constructing some breathtakingly dreamy shots of his friend Nya Green. But Daniels' talent extends far beyond the series that has launched him into prominence. At an impressively young age, it would appear that Daniels has found a distinct voice that never comes at the detriment of scope. The images on his Instagram feed are diverse in milieu. The color palettes alone range from deep reds to pale pinks, primary colors to pastels. Yet they all retain an ambiguous similarity, an almost awareness of the futile nature of preservation, and the ironically everlasting transitoriness of life. Humble despite his recent celebrity, Daniels was kind enough to answer my questions.

How would you define creativity?

Creativity is everywhere and in everyone. What separates most people [from the rest] is their ability to believe in themselves and their own ideas in order to see a piece completely through.

Who do you think the most creative person alive is?

Donald Glover. His ability to thrive in every art field is inspiring. Even looking back at his old work, you can see his genius in all of it.

What do you think you'll miss about being young? How do you think your style in terms of photography will change as you get older?

The creative freedom I have when it comes to a project or simple decisions on set. I often see so many credits at the end of a film or photo piece it makes me question where the original idea went and what it looked like at its beginning.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I hope I can maintain that imagination and determination I have right now. Visually, I'd love to move into film and create things that inspire people the same way Frank Ocean's "Nike's" video inspired me.

Based on your interview with i-D, it seems like you aren't particularly fond of the suburbs (which I totally understand/relate to), but what's the best part about growing up in the suburbs?

Seeing how shifts in pop culture can trickle all the way down to my school. I love seeing the dynamic between the influencers of today and this group of impressionable kids.

Has there ever been a moment in your life that you wish you'd gotten a photo of but didn't?

A lot of my work is in a controlled studio so a lot of the moments are bred through the atmosphere of the set or the music that's playing. I do get a lot of inspiration for pictures from things that happen in my life, but I just keep them in my head. This is so when I think back on this moment they become more saturated and well-polished and I can draw from that and mold those memories into something even more beautiful in a studio.

What's a vision you have for a photo shoot that you don't yet have the resources to pull off?

If I ever have a concept for a photograph, I couldn't ever stop just because I don't have the resources. In a lot of my shoots, I manage to find the right pieces at the last minute.

If you weren't a photographer, what would your career goals be?

To live in Tokyo, full-time.

What do you think is your most distinct quality as a photographer?

My ability to capture diverse subject matter, crossing genres of photography.

What do you hope people feel when they look at your photos?

I hope my photos make people feel empowered to do what they want. I want people to trust themselves and their own visions enough to create their own life and not succumb to these imaginary boundaries we set for ourselves.

Photo credits: Nico Daniels


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