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Meet Downtown Photographer: Nicholas King

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicholas King.

Nicholas, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve been pretty nomadic since 2013 when I dropped out of school to travel to Nepal for three months where I rediscovered a passion for capturing humanity’s truest, most vulnerable moments. Coming from a privileged upbringing in San Diego, I had no way of predicting the gravity of my personal transformation that took place there. Never before had I seen such suffering and such desperation, but behind each hardship, I also saw a profound sense of joy and contentment that shone through every crack from deep within. From that moment I was infected. I had traveled prior to my experience in Nepal but had never felt so drastically changed. By extracting myself out of my own context–my own reality–I saw that the comforts of home were as illusory as the American Dream itself.

Since then, I’ve finished school and continued to travel; never stopping in any one location for too long. Before graduating in 2015, I lived in California and Colorado spending every free moment I had rock climbing and backpacking. That Summer, I moved to Los Angeles hoping to try out yet another new city and get back into the studio. Most recently, I was traveling around Southeast Asia in an attempt to circumvent the typical tourist traps and gain a true sense of life in the region while writing and shooting throughout.

I’ve found working as a photographer in LA to be fun and collaborative with endless potential for creative expression. Especially here, fashion photography is an exhilarating game to play. For me, though, it continually lacks the depth and soul that I find while immersing myself in vibrant, age-old cultures around the world and truthfully, my mind is already on its way to the next destination.

Has it been a smooth road?
As it seems with most other professional photographers, keeping up with money is the usual struggle. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I’ve learned as a traveling photographer, though, is exactly how little I can live with while still maintaining a sufficient level of comfort. With my camera in hand and clothes on my back, the only thing I really need to worry about is scraping enough together for the next plane ticket.

Have you ever felt like giving up?
Photography has never felt so much like a job that I’ve felt the need to quit. Rather, it has presented itself as a good friend who is at times very difficult to keep in touch with. Deep down, I know photography is a passion that will always be there for me but I often go back and forth between keeping it as a hobby and doing it professionally. Especially when dealing with difficult clients or schedules I find myself wishing I could just stick to my own personal projects but I find that having a healthy mix of both options is what gets me through the tough times. You HAVE to be careful when mixing your creative outlets with your profession and remember that they are never quite exactly the same thing.

What advice do you wish to give to those thinking about pursuing a path similar to yours?
Reach out! It’s a very lonely game to play if you try to dive right in. I spent a solid month sending about 10+ emails a day to photographers I either admired or who also just happened to work in LA before I got responses from 3 amazing artists; 2 of which are still dear mentors to me today. I will never forget the “rule” that my mentor and fellow photographer Grant Yoshino (Yoshino Studios) told me one day. Something like, “You have to split your time into thirds: 1/3 of your time goes to your mentors, 1/3 of your time goes to your peers, and 1/3 of your time goes to those just starting out–those who look to you for guidance.”

What are you most excited about these days?
More traveling! I’m always looking forward to the next adventure. Although nothing is on the calendar just yet, I have been looking into spending New Years in Guatemala before spending some time discovering the rest of South America.

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