We had the good fortune of connecting with Rashida Zagon and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rashida, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Getting to know yourself is one of the most important things in life. Knowing myself has allowed me access to knowing my true power as I navigate this world. I think about superheroes for example- Every superhero has a superpower and they use it for good. Knowing your superpower allows you to tap into the things that make you super powerful which then leads you to fearlessly run after the things that scare you. Superheroes can be scared and even feel like they lost a battle but they’re still willing to try. Their power is not giving up and it all starts inside. As I grow and understand more about myself, I’ve learned that without me there is no me. Plain and simple. Anyone can believe in me but I must believe in myself first. If I don’t, then it’s impossible to even know my potential. For a long time, I wouldn’t celebrate my wins because I didn’t view them as wins. I saw them as just another step I took in life. Because of this I delayed tapping into my full potential because I was just unable to see it. Being a photographer has allowed me to tap into one of my superpowers. I get to connect with people and create a space to be and feel seen. I help people SEE THEMSELVES fully and beautifully. I see it as a pathway to tapping more into their superpower. I see social impact as the effect of an activity that benefits a community. The well-being of individuals and families comes to mind. I started seeing my social impact on a one-on-one basis with each of my clients. I had clients coming to me for simple headshots, birthday shoots, small business shoots and so much more. I realized the power I had in helping the community around me thrive. One major way my business helps the community is through a mentorship program called Photography Now; In Perspective. We guide students through the fundamentals of photography to develop their own portfolio, but also embrace it as an art form and a potential profession. I designed this in collaboration with Elena Mudd and Sadaf Padder of Alpha Ambassadors. It’s been a magical experience. We began planning in November and started welcoming students at the beginning of February. Starting was scary but I know the importance of creating a creative space for youth to explore their creative superpowers. We equally had to rely on the community and relationships to make this course successful. Experiencing success as a photographer, even after not attending college or receiving any official training, inspires my passion for helping others experience the same. I hope to give the students the tools they need. Many of these tools I didn’t have when first starting. Aside from this course, I hope to continue inspiring the world through photography. Telling our stories and adding space for others to discover their own story wherever possible to add to someone else’s success on their journey, whether personal or career-wise, makes my heart happy.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
It feels like my art is specialized to moments in time and how to capture those moments through unique perspectives. I try to make sure theres intention behind the art that I create as I believe theres intention behind everything we come into contact with and a viewpoint that might help us understand ‘It’ better. What sets me apart from others is maybe my ability to connect quickly to my subjects which allows for lasting moments of openness as I capture them even in the discomfort of having the camera too close for comfort. Realizing this has given me more insight on the things I want to create more of and how. My curious nature in everything I do whether its trying to learn a song on a guitar I taught myself, or thinking deeply of how Alicia Keys sang that note so smoothly has played a big role in getting me where I am today. Photography was always something I loved growing up which made me naturally act out my love for it in my everyday life. I always took being the photographer behind the Iphone pictures very seriously which turned me into the person everyone would hand the iphone to. Being a confident person has helped me excel as a photographer. Anything I’ve practiced doing often and well eventually beame professional as I began getting more opportunities to continue adding to my craft and interests. My natural desire to capture and connect with people organically found its nook in my life and operation of it especially In the professional world. The community I had around me saw how serious photography was becoming to me I think because I spoke about my desire to do it while also taking the steps to simply shoot and be in the space made it a natural reaction for the people in my network to start passing opportunities my way. The two biggest steps I took that has had a huge impact on where I am today is asking to intern at photographer Danielle Levitt’s studio and years later asking Mark Clennon to be his assistant. Both experiences put me into spaces I had envisioned myself being in and living in those visions made it feel possible to request more of myself. It’s alway going to be a difficult in some way to get to where you are professionally, especially if you have a desire for growth in your daily practices. The hardest part for me has been realizing that I AM A PROFESSIONAL and I have PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES. Making sure I match my professionalism and values for myself and my clients will always be hard because I care so much about anything I create and it being great. I’ve overcome these challenges by honestly just checking in with myself and essentially giving myself flowers but also being mindful of where I could improver in my business and personal life. I’ve learned so many lessons, especially now! Not only am I learning new skills to become a better story teller through photography but I’ve learned how important it is to backup your business legally with contracts and much more which is something Im still learning especially being self taught in all of this. Self evaluations and google has helped me see where or what I’m lacking creatively and professionally. I would want the world to know that my story is only different from any other story because I, Rashida Z am the main subject of my brand and my success. Without the knowledge and pursuit of that I don’t think I would be as successful. I want people to know that I am not just a photographer but a full on creative with so many creative ideas and talents that it at times gets overwhelming to know what to focus on next. Most importantly, I want people to know that I don’t have it all together- I need help in many places behind my business my brand and myself but that I will always try and do my best even when I don’t have a lot.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love hosting people at home so that would be the first place Id show them the best time ever, freely dancing eating chillin and talking about all the deep things! I love doughnuts so I would have to take them to a favorite spot which would probably be Doughnut Plant, however there’s a few other really amazing spots id be willing to try out! Most likely would try to do something spontaneous and random like going to get a tattoo at my tattoo artists spot in Bedstuy. We would HAVE TO take the train at some point because that is an experience in itself. Take out & a show or movie. I love ordering in from Amy’s Thai in my neighborhood so that would probably be somewhere in the layout of the week. Prospect park! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oliveen ( Mom)- For being the best example of giving back to the community while running fearlessly after her passions her entire life. Besouro (Dad) – For noticing my interest and natural talent in photography and always reassuring me of my gifts. Chadrix Bullock – For being a best friend and a great example of being a self starter. Janille Hill ( Sister) – For continuously pushing me to pursue my greatness, for allowing me the space, really a home when I first moved to New York and SO MUCH MORE! Mark Clennon – For being the best mentor, bringing me on as his assistant and equally opening doors for me to be able to step into. Garren Pryce – For bringing me on as his assistant and reassuring me of my greatness. Yara Mendes – For being the best friend/sister, support, listening ear and everything else you could imagine. Sadaf Padder- Amazing support while creating Photogrpahy Now; In Perspective. Elena Mudd- For all of the effort and support put into creating and navigating our joined program. Steven Jermaine- For always cheering me on and giving me a platform the share my work! BOOK: The Big Leap This list could go on and on.

Website: www.rashidaz.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rashidazagon/

Image Credits
Rashida Z

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