How did photography find you?

Photography found me through my poetry. I would write a lot in middle and high school about the issues I was facing. It started on paper and then made its way onto my Tumblr page using my initials, which no one at the time really knew or cared to look up. My writings were posted anonymously. It allowed me to release all my emotions. Then one day I felt like my words couldn't describe what I was feeling anymore, I started to see these beautiful images in my mind which lead me into photography and photo illustration.

What was the journey like transitioning to freelance?

My journey to freelancing was difficult. I made two attempts - my first attempt was after my first trip to London. Around this time I had just received a job at Flight Club, and a few months in I was invited to photograph in London with some friends. I took the opportunity although my job told me I couldn't. After witnessing London, I felt it in my soul that I couldn't and didn't want to work for anyone anymore.

I came back to New York and quit my job. I freelanced for about 8 months and made $0 dollars. The thing about freelancing is you have to be willing to put in a lot of work to market yourself, create the work you want to be hired for, and network. I had not thought about that before leaving my job. Luckily I was a lot younger and living at home. My second attempt, which is my current reality, happened jobs later - I had worked at about three others jobs until I worked with a company called Greats. Where I helped them open up their studio and later their first store in SoHo. Here I was able to grow with the corporate team and network my way into shooting campaigns for them. Some of which I completely creatively directed and others where I just came along as the photographer. After a few years there and a couple of years of networking, I decided it was time to work for me and on me. I felt more "prepared" for the leap. Even now I struggle a lot with finding work but my community is extremely strong and knowing that I'm able to keep my faith.

Makeena Marie Oluwabunmi Rivers

What advice would you give to your younger self in regards to how you navigate the industry today?

I would tell my younger self to remain on this path of networking, talking to strangers, and creating for the sake of experimenting. Something I feel like I've forgotten lately is that I have to keep doing these things. I've gotten comfortable with creating a name for myself, back home it was "Goblin", which some people still refer to me as today, and I allowed that to be my whole business plan. It's cool to have a unique nickname, and be a Dominican-American photographer, but now that I live in a new city and go by my real name I'm being reminded that the same things I did back then need to always be happening. So that my work, my name, and my talent can expand with me.

What was your best project to date?

My best project is "Weighted" which I dropped a few weeks ago. It speaks to the emotions I have been feeling lately as a photographer in Los Angeles. Feeling the weight of my own emotions.

Who are your ideal clients, and projects?

Some clients I would love to work with are GQ, NY Times, Calvin Klein, and Vogue. My work speaks to all of these categories. I love capturing people - I love capturing the essence of whoever I am working with. My ideal client would be a client that likes whimsical things like I do. Where there is color play, amazing wardrobe, and where I can play with shapes and angles.

When you pick up your camera who are you aiming to honor? Who are you keeping "in mind"?

When I pick up my camera I am looking to honor those in front of it. To share their being with the world, to share their stories if I can. I am also honoring the divine creation that allows me to have the vision that I do. I am able to see the beauty in everyone and I want everyone to see that.

Visit Nancy's work at

Share this post