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Nehemiah Brent on Inspiration, Radiance, and Vulnerability

A path full of inspiration and versatility fueled the Monrovia-born image-worker Nehemiah Brent's colorful and radiant portfolio. We spoke with Brent about his roots, sources of creativity, and the recurring themes in his work.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

My name is Nehemiah Brent, or sometimes people just call me Neh (knee). I'm a NYC based digital and film photographer, with a focus in portraiture.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Monrovia, Liberia in 1996. My family moved to Lynn, Massachusetts around 6 months after I was born due to a civil war going on in our country. I was raised in Lynn for most of my life, until I was 18 and went to school at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Did your hometown inspire your work? If so, how?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that my hometown inspired my work because most of the inspiration took place while I was at UMASS Amherst or when I went to visit New York. The visits helped me narrow down what type of photography I like to do. If anything, my hometown inspired me to leave and do my own thing after I graduated college.

When did you start your photography career and what are some of the memorable beginning moments?

I started photography in 2016, during my sophomore year of college. I would say some of my memorable beginning moments were when I was doing concert photography at my school. After the shows I would get the chance to meet the artist backstage, and I thought that was really cool. Another memorable moment was when I found out my school had a photo studio in the fine arts building. Once, I found that I gradually leaned more into portrait photography.

What has been your favorite project to work on so far?

My favorite project I’ve worked on so far is with my friend Latrell James for his new project that’s coming in 2023. The photos haven’t come out yet, but when they do I know everyone will love them just as much as I do. It was a very special project to work on because Latrell personally chose me to shoot this project. He trusted me to bring his vision to life and it’s just so beautiful. So I can’t wait to share it.

What are some common themes and messages in your work?

When it comes to my work, the theme I aim for is radiance and vulnerability. I want people to look at my work and feel comforted. My work is more about capturing the essence of the subject, rather than just the surface.

What advice would you give someone interested in a photography career?

My advice for anyone starting off in photography is to have fun. Shoot whatever it is you like. There is no rule that you should only photograph one thing. If you decide that you want to do photography full time, then really take your time to understand the business, and realize what it is you really want to shoot. If you like shooting portraits as I do, practice with your friends because your friends really help you get far. More importantly, I would say just be patient because you won’t be perfect when you start. So enjoy the process and see where it takes you.

Keep up with Nehemiah and his ongoing portfolio on Instagram @planetnehemiah.


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