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Daily Inspiration: Meet Nalani Hernandez-Melo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nalani Hernandez-Melo.

Hi Nalani, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am a proud first-generation Mexican visual artist and portrait photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. My family originally immigrated to Pasadena from Mexico City in the mid-’80s but our love for our culture and heritage never left us.

My life always revolved around the arts, creative expression, and storytelling. Having studied the visual and performing arts since elementary school all the way up to earning my BFA from the San Fransico Art Insitute, I naturally weaved creativity into any field of work I explored after college. However, it wasn’t until I started working in editorial, producing photo/video shoots, that I finally realized there was a way to bridge a sustainable career with my heart’s passion and purpose to create with my hands.

Now in hindsight, I have found that my happy place is creating portraits. Regardless of the medium – be it a photograph, a relief print, drawing, or a video, the pieces I resonate with most are the ones where I have the opportunity to connect with someone, a place, or even myself, on a deeper level to uncover the essence of the subject.

To me, there is magic and power in the art of visual storytelling and this is where I find myself today as an artist and photographer. I love connecting with people, hearing them share their life’s stories, journeys, and wisdom and it is my honor to continue the cycle of storytelling through my work and share it with my community.

This year I launched Story + Image Studio, a place where I can be of creative service to anyone seeking the production of artful content creation and portrait photography.

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?
After four years working for magazines, things quickly shifted with the Pandemic. I was forced to rethink how to pursue my creative practice. Do I return to working for a company or do I take a leap of faith? Do I commit 100% to my own creative practice and pursue it full force?

I took the leap.

2021 was my first year working solely for myself and my art.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
My creative experience spans editorial and client projects in print, film, and digital media.

Heavily influenced by travel, cinema, and the esoteric and spiritual, I find myself intuitively drawn to unearthing a person’s or a place’s essence through my photography and interviewing style.

My work advocates for diversity and representation and takes cues from my Mexican heritage and my passion for culture and community.

The greatest compliment I’ve received from my clients is that after our sessions or projects, they feel as though they worked with someone who captured their truest self.

I honor the trust each client puts in me when standing before my lens.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
Honestly, I don’t believe the feeling of “starting out” ever ends. So it is my sincerest advice to just trust the process, but do the work, have faith, and never, ever, EVER give up on your dreams or goals. No matter how impossible they may seem. Only you can stop you from achieving it. To quote one of my favorite stories, “The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it is possible.”

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Cover photo: Christy Jeziorski

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