The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Flo Ngala

Author: Kristen McCloud / Photos: Flo Ngala
09.28 / MB Series

Photographer: Flo Ngala

Instagram: @flongala

Tell us about your style of photography. How did you develop this style and what do you enjoy shooting the most?
My style of photography is sort of a hybrid between street photography and portraiture. I love observing people and their behavior. Life has a way of naturally arranging itself in beautiful, ironic and odd moments. I enjoy putting my own perspective on life with what I capture.

Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
1) Paying attention to what is happening around you.
2) Constantly looking at great work. Your eye for capturing great moments becomes stronger when you see what that looks like on a
professional level (I recommend the Magnum Photos website for some of the best work ever created). The better the work is that you see, the more you understand, appreciate, and apply what makes good photography.

Where are you based? What makes home a good base for you?
I’m based in Harlem, where I was born and raised. For me, a good home base is one that provides natural inspiration. To me, I feel that strongly in Harlem and New York, especially because I was raised here. The people here, the swag of the city, the culture, it’s something new every day which I love.

Tell us about your gear, what camera do you use? What lenses do you prefer? Post- editing?
I shoot with a 5D Mark III and love prime lenses, the main lenses I use are f/1.4s. When I can I’ll rent f/1.2s because I’m obsessed with shallow depth of field. For my post-editing process I use VSCOFilm for Photoshop.

How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience.
I got into photography because it was one of the art electives offered when I was in 8th grade, and then going into high school I decided to stick with it. My first experience as a photography student was spending class periods going outside and taking pictures of different parts of our campus.

Tell us the story behind one of the most memorable photos you’ve shot...
I took this picture on my way to school in the Bronx once - there was a guy going up the stairs and the staircase was nicely lit by the sun that morning. I started to take a photo of him then he turned back just as I was releasing the shutter with this intense frown! I was obsessed with that image for weeks once I finally developed it. It was a great example of the “decisive moment” and the beauty in photography.

What is a constant source of inspiration for you as a photographer?
Life, the things I see, hear, and experience every day. Great work also really inspires me. I was a huge Tumblr kid in high school and was so inspired by scrolling through what felt like endless amounts of content.

Who has been a great influence or mentor to you and what did you learn from them that you still carry with you today?
I freelance with Atlantic Records and one of their senior staff members who’s been in the music business for years is for sure my biggest influence. She also gave me my first big chance as a photographer. So over the past two years, she's witnessed and played a
part in my growth as an artist as well as a young woman. She has this assertiveness and directness about her that really commands a room (I’ve seen the types of rooms she has to move in, it’s not easy). Also being confident and unapologetic is something she has mastered which I want to carry into my life.

Can you give us three photography tips and explain each?
Don’t Think Too Much - Especially with my street photography, I’ve found that I always regret hesitating to take a photo, you have to really pay attention to that first urge to capture what you see. you never get the exact moment back again. The more you practice, the better you get at silencing the voice that may be afraid in your head and it eventually becomes very second nature.

You Should Be Moving - do what you have to do to get the shot! You shouldn’t just be shooting in the same position sometimes you have to get creative to get the shot.

Stop Rushing To Put Your Work Out - I’ve shared some of the work that I thought was awesome, but sometimes it can be misunderstood or not as well received because I was in a rush to share. I’ve also rushed to share work and maybe an hour or two later, I thought of a better idea. Sit with your work, get to know it, push yourself further on every project. Good delivery is just as important as good execution.

Finish the sentence...

If I weren’t afraid I would... travel the world as a photojournalist and fashion photographer.

I wouldn't be where I am today if... not for the grace of God.

I've been listening to... my intuition more.

I look and feel my best when... my mind and conscience are clear.

When no one is looking, I... talk to myself... a lot.

Traveling... is a privilege to some but should be available to all, I wish traveling had nothing to do with money.

I respect... honesty, good opinions, and constructive criticism.

I would recommend interviewing... @nvmwendy.

If I were to ask him/her a photography related question, I would want to know... well she’s more a videographer/illustrator/creative mastermind, but I would want to know how she plans to take over the world with all that talent.

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