Today we’d like to introduce you to Niya Simone Duncan.
Hi Niya, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
It all started in high school, I actually did not like photography, I only took the class because I needed an elective.
Once I got to college, I decided to continue with photography because I felt like I was pretty good but never thought to take It seriously. I joined an organization called MAG (media arts geniuses) and every year they have a showcase for new incoming talent.
People saw my work, loved it, and wanted to use me for graduation pictures, birthday shoots, brand shoots, etc. That’s when I realized maybe It’s time to take photography seriously. My mom bought me my first camera Canon t6 for Christmas and I remember just bursting into tears because I knew now I have the potential to grow in my craft.
I did that for a couple of years then one day a friend of mine who wanted to start doing photography asked if I can be a model and at the time I was like “Why me, you know I’m used to being behind the camera.” It stepped me out of my comfort zone but It also felt natural and easy. From there more of my photography friends started asking me to model for them and that’s when I found my second passion.
A year later, I started my Me Shot By Me series which is me being the model and photographer. I thought to myself “I have so many concept ideas and have the skills so why not do both?” 2 years later I’ve gotten brand collaborations, asked to send my work to magazine companies and I am in the process of potentially signing with a model agency.
It’s crazy how the world works and how everything happens for a reason because high school me would’ve never thought I would still be taking pictures 7 years later, so I’m really glad I took that elective instead of the gym.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Yes, absolutely, I went through a lot of obstacles but learned a lot of lessons. My camera was actually stolen a year after having It and that was a rollercoaster within itself but I still made it work I ended up renting out a camera every time I had a shoot sometimes I even had my friends rent out a camera for me.
Going through that and still being so determined to continue to shoot made me realize I love doing this a lot more than I thought I would. Support was another challenge I faced, seeing who does and doesn’t support you can be a slap in the face sometimes especially when it’s people you considered friends.
I’ve had to end a few friendships because of that, which looking back now I am glad I did at the end of the day you want nothing but positivity in your circle, especially at the beginning. It isn’t easy realizing complete strangers are supporting your work more than people you were close which can make you question your own ability at times.
I think when it comes to being good at something you are gonna have haters regardless “I don’t like her style of photography.” “Why is she always the model I’m tired of seeing her face.” you have the choice to ignore or let It get to you.
It helped me realize if people aren’t hating then I’m not doing something right because I am only going to get better from here.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I mainly focus on fashion photography, brand photography, portrait, and self-portrait.
I would say, I am mostly known for my Me Shot By Me series it’s not often you come across is the creative director, set designer, model, photographer, and editor which I feel sets me apart as well every shoot Is a completely different style and I try to keep it that way to show versatility.
I am proud of every moment and honestly grateful to have found my purpose because It was a struggle figuring that out at first so I am glad to just be living in this moment watching my growth, getting noticed, and getting that support.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was very shy but I loved the spotlight at the same time. My mother is the complete opposite of me she can walk into a room and end up becoming friends with everyone in that room. I’m going to walk into a room, find a seat and just observe everyone there.
But I think watching her be so confident helped me gain that years later. Dancing was my passion I did ballet and modern since I was 3 so that is was I expected to do for most of my life. It is crazy because a lot of my childhood friends even family members knew I was going to end up doing something that involved a camera.
I was always in my mom’s clothes trying things on doing my hair and makeup posing in the mirror pretending to be famous which I think we have all done as a kid not thinking anything of it.
Growing up, I was always open to trying new hobbies but they were always temporary so once I started photography I felt like this was going to be permanent.
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/niya_simone8/