The new school league of young, hip, and professional photographers are what the visual arts community needs.
Shanita Sims is an inspiring young talent whose clean and extensive portfolio often feature young beauty women of all kinds. It was her photo series with Mengly Hernandez that caught the attention of my Editor. Sims currently resides in New York City, and is working on her first book and exhibition. Like many of us, she was the oddball at home and in the classroom. Get to know more about her family, accomplishments and what she thinks of GrungeCake.
Let’s talk about your upbringing. What was your life like as an adolescent and how have those experiences shaped for work?
I had a pretty “normal” childhood, but I always craved more than what I was surrounded by growing up. I’m the oddball of the family I feel. In school, I always got picked on and never fit in with any of the other students. As you can imagine there were some tough moments in those situations. However, I never apologized for who I was and was always content with being me. I think those experiences shaped my work in the way that it motivated me to always seek new and abstract things. Also that it was okay to not be like everyone else and to feel secure in doing my own thing. Now I love finding untapped territories, music, muses – I seek those things. Had I grown up in an environment of “belonging”, I probably wouldn’t share those interests with my current self and I also probably wouldn’t be a photographer.
Where is your place of origin, as well as your family’s?
I was born in Greensboro, North Carolina and raised in New Jersey. Most of my family is from North Carolina. Actually, a lot of them still live there.
Would you say that your family is proud of the accomplishments?
Yes, absolutely. My family, especially my parents have always been super supportive in whatever it was that I was doing. Knowing that they believe in me and care is priceless and I’m super thankful for them.
Does everyday life and your surroundings give you inspiration for your photo shoots? Surroundings as far as places and people.
I wouldn’t say everyday life, necessarily inspires me for photo shoots but yes there are a million things about life that can be very inspiring. I get the most inspiration for my work when I travel. However, when it comes to everyday life, I never know what or who or even when I will get inspired. I just leave myself open and try to always remain aware of my surroundings and experiences.
How do you go through the process of picking your subjects to determine if they will be perfect or essential for your shoots?
Honestly, I find a lot of my subjects via social media. That way, I can look at their profiles and kind of get a sense of what their personality is like, what about them is appealing to the eye and soul. I have no shame in “cyber-stalking” or as I would prefer to say, “cyber-scouting.”
Are there any past or present photographers that inspire you? If you had to give a list of your top three favorite photographers, who would make it?
Oh of course! Both past and present, naturally. It’s really hard to narrow down to the top 3, because I admire a nice handful of photographers – all for different reasons. However, if I must pick the top 3 they would be Fanny Latour-Lambert, Viviane Sassen, and Guy Bourdin.
Do you ever look at other photographer’s work and feel that you could have done that ten times better?
I don’t know… about ten times per se, but, yes I do see other photographer’s work sometimes and think to myself that I could’ve done the shot better. Often times, I will find what I feel is missing from the photo or what about it doesn’t make it work and think about what I would’ve done to fix it or had avoided altogether. It helps me practice.
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Knowing that your work can be seen in Teen Vogue, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, and more, what is it like, knowing that mainstream media appreciates your craft?
It’s a very warming feeling to know that mainstream media appreciates my work. It’s surreal in a way because I never imagined that the teenage girl who used to collect fashion ads from magazines would actually see her name printed in the credits of a few of her favorite magazines. I am honored and super thankful that I have the opportunity to work with such great publications and contribute my talents in that form of media.
How long have you been a freelancer? Do you see yourself working for an agency?
I have been a freelancer for a little over a year now. My next goal is to definitely be signed and working for an agency, for sure.
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What will be your next venture? Will we be able to expect something out of the box?
Hopefully, my first book or exhibition (group or solo) but for now, I am just continuing to build my craft and learn new things so that I will have more to offer artistically and aesthetically. I am going to be focusing on shooting more editorial work which will definitely be more out of the box. I feel as though my work is still too safe for my taste, and I am definitely looking to challenge myself more in the near future.
What does GrungeCake mean to you?
Sims has work that can be seen in Elle, Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and other publications. To view Sim’s port, click here.