Updated: Jun 25, 2020
Nakiesa Faraji-Tajrishi is a triple degree holder, world traveler of over 30 countries, and to our delight, a recent addition to the Clicke photography collective. Her portfolio is a collection of whimsical yet technically sophisticated self-portraits, stunning landscapes from around the world, and intimate portraits of the individuals she meets during her travels.
At first glance, one might assume, as we did, that Nakiesa’s photographs are the renderings of a skilled Instagram husband. However, it is impossible not to be extremely impressed upon realizing that she captured these beautiful photos of herself by herself.
“I wanted to see the world, and I don’t think having someone with you or not should stop you from doing that,” she said. Embarking upon her first solo trip to New York during winter break of her freshman year; a few months later she headed off to her first international trip to Paris.
She funded her trips by creating and selling study guides to underclassmen. Nakiesa continued to travel as she earned degrees in graphic design, electrical engineering, and business.
“I should have a Ph.D., but instead, I have three different degrees,” Nakiesa laughed.
“I like to consider myself a modern-day Renaissance woman.”
And a Renaissance woman she is—a fresh, 21st century version who is self-made to boot—more than one can say for many a Renaissance man.
Nakiesa continued to travel working as an engineer for an international clean energy company, becoming increasingly interested in photography as a medium through which to document the world and her memories as she traversed it. While she originally took photos with her phone, she eventually invested in a remote control DSLR so she could document her solo travels and inspire others to do the same.
Inspiring others is a common, and intentional, theme of Nakiesa’s photography. While you may recognize many of her photograph locations, such as the Grand Canyon, as common tourist destinations, many are not.
“I typically spend the first day anywhere I travel sitting in a coffeeshop researching more off-the-beaten-path places to go and asking locals what they recommend. I want to stay, eat, and have fun the way the locals do,” she said.
One of Nakiesa’s favorite aspects of her career as a photographer is inspiring other people, especially other women, to find their own independence.
On a recent trip to Vietnam, Nakiesa had just finished a grueling hike and several hour photo shoot at the summit; only to find herself at the bottom of the trail with no taxis in sight, no cell service, and waning daylight.
She asked the receptionist at the hiking help center for directions to her homestay, resigned to trudging the ten plus miles of dark rice paddies home, but to her surprise, the receptionist offered to drive Nakiesa herself!
As Nakiesa clung to the back of the receptionist’s motorcycle, the woman began to tell her how she had always wanted to go on a trip by herself too, but she was concerned that something exactly like this would happen.
“But then I said, ‘yes, this is the worst thing that could happen, but see? You’re helping me! People will help you too. If you look for the best in people, I think you usually find it,’’' smiled Nakiesa. The woman promised Nakiesa that she’d finally take her own solo trip too.
Focused on inspiring others to see the best in people, rather than just the beauty in herself, Nakiesa’s style of self-portraiture is a welcome foil to contemporary selfie culture. While Nakiesa’s photos are clearly beautiful, their primary purpose has always been to capture the beauty of the moment, of the place, and of her experience there.
“Real photography isn’t just about looking good—it’s about capturing a story, the emotions on a person’s face, and how a place feels."
"I’ll spend days researching lesser known places, traveling to and scouting out the location, and waiting for the perfect shot. What distinguishes taking photos from photography really boils down to artistic intention and dedication to the art,” Nakiesa concluded, citing Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule.
Nakiesa’s work is elevated by her use of drones, surrealist editing, and videography components. A strong proponent of idealism over realism, Nakiesa prides herself on capturing her subjects, including herself, not just as they are, but as they could be.
“My photography is bright, bold, and beautiful because that’s how I see the world, and that’s how I want others to see themselves,”
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