By Palmira Muniz (@vivalapalma)
Sade Ndya is a young Indian and African American photographer who hails from what she calls, the “boring-ass” town that is Palm Springs, and despite her small town upbringing, Ndya’s work is far from boring. I had the pleasure of interviewing the artist, who currently has her studio and resides in Pasadena, CA as she attends the Art Center College of Design, studying cinematography and narrative filmmaking.
PM: How did the art of photography come into your life? What are your other artistic ventures?
SN: Ah, this is always hard to answer. It kind of just…happened. As soon as I got my first DSLR at around third grade, I just started snapping photos of the world around me. I grew up with an indecisive ass family and had the unpleasant pleasure of traveling the world with them. My camera was the only thing that really grounded me in reality, I could have control over the unbecoming world around me and capture the good aspects of life.
Cinematography has been something that I’ve just recently gotten into within these past two years. I’m still very new to the world, but I fall in love with it more and more with each project that I pick up. Having the ability to capture in-motion pictures, is a whole different and layered effect than photography. Noticing every beat and lighting every corner of a fixed world is probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever had to do.
What or who inspires your work?
Issa Rae. Tyler Mitchell. Ava Duvernay. Matthew Cohen. Barry Jenkins. Jordan Peele. Bradford Young. All of these creatives prospering in the industry for being unapologetically black and showcasing that in their work have helped me immensely through this whole creative process.
What Goals do you have with your art? What’s end goal for your career in general?
As a visual artist that captures subjects for a living, the thing I strive to do the most is help individuals find the beauty in themselves. Humans are inherently insecure about something in their lives, whether it may be internal or external. If I can at least help someone find the light in themselves, then my work is done.
Career wise, I have intentions of becoming a cinematographer for independent films. It’s hard to just get there though and from what I’ve learned so far, it’s going to take a lot of fighting and pushing through.
What are your favorite things about working in this media?
My favorite thing is actually the friendships I’ve made. I’ve just recently found my sphere of artists that I respect and hope to work with for years to come. There’s nothing more satisfying than getting off of a set filled with a collaborative and wholesome minds. If there is a healthy set life, I’ve noticed that it greatly affects the final product. Work with people you trust and respect. Work ethic always comes first before prestige/talent for me.
What are the biggest challenges you face while working on your art?
I think the hardest thing about this field is being a freelancer. Nothing is scarier than having to put a price tag on your work and hoping that people agree with you. It took me a long time to really realize my worth as an artist. I still don’t fully know it, a lot of the business side of what I do has been learnt through trial and error.
This whole culture of working for “exposure” has really put pressure on the modern day artist. We strive to make connections and world build, but also at the same time, we need to be able to pay the bills and fend for ourselves. It’s so hard having to say no to a project. I randomly get passionate about every project that I’m offered, but adulthood forces me to think rationally with how I decide to mediate my time.
How do you hope to inspire other young Black women as artists?
I think my biggest pursuit is to help fellow Black women realize that our stories matter and fight for its perseverance through storytelling. I went through so much unnecessary trauma growing up in white suburbia, that I never got to fully realize my voice until recently. If I could get ahead of that and let young black girls find that voice earlier on in their lives, my work here is honestly complete.
Currently, Ndya’s studio, “The Red Futon” holds portrait sessions every Sunday, for $100/hr. Ndya’s focus is on helping young artists brand themselves and bring small businesses/brands to life. Follow Sade Ndya Instagram: @sadendya Website: www.theredfuton.com
*Pictures of Sade Ndya by Daion Chesney
*All additional pictures by Sade Ndya