How did photography find you?
Growing up I was always intrigued by anything related to the arts but one day, I discovered a random box in my childhood home, that my mother owned, that was filled with point-and-shoot film cameras and family photo albums. That day my journey of photography began.
After discovering that box I continuously took photos. One evening when my mother and I went to my uncle’s house for a family dinner I knew to take it seriously though. When we arrived, I was enamored by a huge black and white photograph they had of their shitzu, which hung framed on their living room wall. After a moment, I realized that it was me that captured that photo. Hearing the immediate praise from my mother and family was all I needed as my universal confirmation to take this seriously.
What was the journey like transitioning to freelance?
Transitioning to freelance was not an easy journey. I was extremely young, eager, and willing to put myself out there. My love for the arts and photography was infinitely insurmountable. I worked three jobs at once during my transition; if there was an event happening I’d be present to photograph it and network, before that I’d work my morning job, do 1-3 photo shoots from the early afternoon to the top of the evening, then work at my second job. There were moments when I felt like giving up, and questioned if manifesting was worth all of the things I took on at that time.
However, I truly believe that if you put yourself in those spaces, genuinely connect with those you are capturing, and do your research before making the transition, then the knowledge you’ve obtained to make such a transition is vital.
What advice would you give to your younger self in regard to how you navigate the photo industry today?
I'd tell my younger self to educate herself on the business aspect of photography. There were many times throughout my experience while freelancing that I was misguided. I was not properly educated about why release forms, NDAs, invoices, (and the list can go on) are important. This caused my younger self to miss out on many opportunities.
Describe your best project up to date.
That would be my first. It was untitled but rooted in still finding your way back to that person regardless of where you may be in your individual life. It was very insightful 7 years ago, I was allowed to capture various emotions for that project!
Who are your ideal clients?
My ideal clients range from brands, to public figures/celebrities, and role models. Some publications and brands would be Popeye, Kinfolk, Fader, Wonderland, British Vogue, Denim Tears, and Hanifa. I’d be grateful to work with Rihanna, Chaz Bear, Lauryn Hill, and Buju Baton. And I aspire to create with my role models, which include my mother and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
When you pick up your camera who are you aiming to honor? Who are you keeping "in mind"?
I am aiming to honor my mother. It may seem cliché to some, however throughout my journey, no matter the tribulation, my mother has remained a constant. I aspire for everything I do to make her extremely proud.
Visit Adriel's work at https://www.adrielmichelle.com/