We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Nixon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, what inspires you?
This might sound cheesy but I’m most inspired by the people I photograph.
I love photography because I’m passionate about people first. Through this little business of mine, I’ve been able to meet and document entrepreneurs, journalists, worship leaders and future lawyers as well as classmates that I’ve grown up with since elementary school as they graduate or fall in love. It’s so fascinating to learn about each person and cater the shoot to reflect their personal interests, aesthetics, and energies. Since starting to take gigs at 15 years old to now at 19, I’ve had the privilege of photographing around 70 individuals which I’m so grateful to have connected with and I’m just as eager to meet my future clients.
Some of my other loves in this life are writing and reporting for the same reason. I absolutely love interviewing and learning about everyone’s lives then presenting it in story form. It just happens that photography is my favorite medium for satisfying this journalistic curiosity. I’m also just captivated by the idea of photography in general. The fact that I can click a shutter and instantly capture real people, light, colors, and moments in time that will last forever is so crazy to me so I just can’t imagine putting this technological ability and passion to waste.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Honestly, the thing I’m most proud of is breaking out of hustle culture.
Hustle culture is still very alive but I don’t think it’s healthy for young people to be a part of. With such limited life experience, we often have no idea where the boundaries lie between working hard and being overworked. I realize this might sound dumb or lazy to some people, especially considering that I’m being featured in a magazine for my literal work, but I think it’s something that a lot of ambitious young people need to hear. Especially now with social media, it’s so easy to compare your own success to others and get caught up in that competitive mindset but it’s not healthy. I constantly compared myself to other professionals and student photographers on Instagram and TikTok but I think it’s more mature now to take a step back and realize that it’s okay for everyone to reach their own milestones on their own timeline.
All of my high school years were spent absolutely grinding to make good grades, participating in extracurriculars, working part-time and volunteering all on top of starting my business. And while I definitely reap the benefits of having put in the work early, I realized that my lifestyle wasn’t sustainable which is why starting college this year, I actually set boundaries for how much work I would accept based on my school schedule. Setting limits for myself means that I’m no longer behind on my edits or emails, I’m able to invest more of my time into planning shoots, scouting locations, and being more personal with my clients. And for myself, it means I have time to pursue new hobbies, focus on school and spend time with friends.
So I guess all this is to say I’m most proud of stepping out of hustle culture because it was really scary for me to close my books and actually say no to shoots. I still work very hard, I just have a healthy work-life balance now. And since I have been offered this platform, I really want to encourage other young creatives or entrepreneurs to consider whether it’s themselves or hustle culture that’s determining the trajectory of their business because breaking out of it has been a game changer for both my business and my mental health.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I go to college in Denton so I spend most of my time there rather than Dallas itself, but some of the cool places I’ve seen in the city include the Wild Detectives which is a café, bookstore, and little bar all in one! I also recently visited the Dallas Museum of Art with a friend and I was blown away at how big it is – I spent at least two hours exploring and still didn’t get to see all the exhibits! Outside of Dallas I would recommend visiting the Scarborough Fair in the springtime – I went for the first time this year and it was so fun to see everyone dressed up and just soak in the atmosphere. We also have a ton of cute downtown areas in the surrounding DFW area so I love to not only shoot but also hang out or edit in coffee shops around downtown Plano, Carrollton, and Denton!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In true Gen-z fashion, I owe a huge shoutout to YouTube for educating me in nearly all things photography. In high school I was lucky to have several great teachers give me the opportunity to explore photojournalism and work in publications so thank you to Ms. Spurgin, Ms. Cooper and Mr. Jones for giving me the space to grow as a storyteller. My church has also connected me with many wonderful professionals such as portrait photographer Candy Smith, videographer Travis Frugé, as well as art director and freelance photographer Kylie Govinchuck who have all helped me learn and experience different aspects of this industry.
Of course my shoutout wouldn’t be complete without mentioning my friends and family for supporting my passion. My mom and dad used to drive me to my first photoshoots before I had my license so I literally couldn’t have done it without them! My cousin Megan overlaps in both categories as friend and family; she has been there since day one pursuing photography alongside me. Megan and my childhood best friend Olivia always modeled for me way before I had a client base or even understood how a camera functioned, too so they’ve been so amazing to have throughout this journey. Last but not least, I want to shoutout my fellow photographer friend Jeff for always being there to help me work through creative blocks and any other hurdles that come with being a photographer (not to mention getting kicked off of many rooftops with me!)