Happy Wednesday everyone!
I want to introduce a new category to my blog:
In this segment of my blog, I will be highlighting different artists and/or creative entrepreneurs. I’ve been working with a lot of different creative entrepreneurs and artists already to produce blog content every week but now I want to do a little more story telling. Dig a little deeper. I plan to speak with more artists and get more insight on their personal journeys.
This will hopefully motivate, inspire, and educate my readers. There are so many artistic careers and professions that aren’t really talked about. I want to take the time to journey behind the scenes and learn more about the creators who use their art to make the world a little more beautiful.
First up we have… Mecca Media
“Hey, my name is Laneè -aka- Mecca and I am a digital media artist living and working in beautiful Oakland x Los Angeles, Ca.
My interests range from photography, video production, and social media curation.
Visual storytelling has always been my chosen way of expressing myself. I got into video production 3 years ago and have been working at perfecting my craft ever since.
I am skilled in every aspect of Production, from creative development to post production (including After Effects).”
Mecca and I worked together in May of this year on a photoshoot for my blog. It had been a few months since my last photoshoot and I just wanted to create something. Nothing too styled or thought out. We had been trying for weeks to coordinate a photoshoot session. This was our first time working together and I’m pretty sure neither one of us knew what to expect. I picked up some clothes from Buffalo Exchange, got my makeup done by Allie Yamaguchi and just kind of winged the rest.
Mecca picked the locations for the shoot and soon as we started shooting everything else just naturally clicked. Although it was our first time working together, it wasn’t our first time meeting each other. We met at a First Friday’s in Oakland. We had been following each other on social media for a while but during this shoot is where I really got a chance to talk to her and get to know more about her.
As you can see Mecca is a bomb photographer but this isn’t even the half of it.
Last week I spoke with Mecca about writing this blog and interviewing her. We stayed on the phone for over an hour discussing life and the trials that can come with being an artist. We actually have more in common than we initially realized. I called myself trying to record our conversation and failed miserably. Next time, I promise I will be more prepared. lol This was my first phone interview for the blog and honestly it turned out to be really rewarding for us both.
How did you get into photography? Tell us the story behind your brand/business.
“Photography found me in 2014.”
Mecca’s introduction to photography was when she was asked to take photos for her friend’s blog. She gradually became more interested in photography and media. Eventually changed her college major. She was intrigued with film and the notion of visually telling people’s stories.
Mecca is her middle name. Once she learned more about the meaning of her middle name she decided to use it for her brand. She graduated from Cal State East Bay in 2017 with a BA in Communications emphasis in Media. She has been building her brand and creating content every since.
Are you a full-time of part-time photographer?
Currently she is a full-time media content creator. Part-time Social Media Outreach Assistant for an Independent Elementary / Middle school. She works on Mecca Media full-time.
What are your goals for your brand?
When she first started off she wanted to be in the music industry creating visual content for musicians. That has morphed into something more meaningful and she’s been focusing on more independent work. Her wants for her brand is so different now than when she first started. She enjoys telling the stories of small businesses. She would like to build a team and tell the stories of underserved small businesses, non profits and organizations who don’t receive enough recognition. She is working to one day become a full service media business.
Do you collab with other local artists or events?
Don’t collab as much as she would like. Her ideal of collaborating is joining forces with other artists and creating something together. Most times she’s hired to work for different projects and events to capture someone else’s vision not her own. When she first started she used to collab with videographers, models, and other artists to plan events more often than she does now.
Do you network at local community events or mostly online?
Hasn’t really been networking at events as much but word of mouth and online is where most of her business comes from. Being in white spaces she has experienced being asked for business cards more. Usually while on set for different projects, she may be the only woman of color so naturally people inquire and gravitate to her. She doesn’t really focus on networking because she believes that once you really connect with people, they will remember you.
What are your favorite things to shoot?
Mecca considers herself a portrait photographer. She love taking pictures of people. She love faces. The uniqueness, the expressions, the details, the smiles, the lines … Mecca loves everything about faces! LOL
Do you travel to shoot? If so, where are some places you have travelled to shoot?
She doesn’t travel just to shoot but everywhere she travels she brings her camera and take photos when she feel inspired. She has captured images from Ghana, London, and New Orleans.
I see you’ve recently travelled to Ghana, please tell us more about that trip?
Mecca was inspired to go to Ghana because her boyfriend lived there for 10 months. His vivid descriptions and poems about Ghana made her feel like she was there, so she knew she had to visit. The trip was put together by the founder of ‘I Love Being Black’. During the trip she was able to really get the Ghana experience. The land was breathtaking. Ghana is surrounded by beauty. Not only was the people physically beautiful but the spirit and history of the country was amazing to witness. Being in Ghana felt like home. So many layers to the trip that was hard to put into words. The people of Ghanan displayed happiness and joy without having half of what we have in America. There was an internal shift felt within Mecca after this trip. Remembering her ancestors was something she took the time out to think deeper about. While in Ghana she took sooo many portraits because she was inspired by the people more than anything. Their stories were written on their faces.
Mecca plans on putting together a showcase of the photos she took on her trip to Ghana. Here’s a sneak peek:
What was your favorite part about the trip?
Mecca enjoys the simple moments in life, where she can just slow down and take everything in. Her favorite part about her trip to Ghana was hanging out and breathing in the fresh air on the beach.
There was also a big Emancipation day Celebration taking place during their trip in Ghana. She enjoyed being apart of the celebration. The people of Ghana welcomed her group and gave a proper “thank you for coming home” followed by dancing to the drums playing.
What is most rewarding about being a photographer?
Sharing people’s stories that hasn’t been heard before.
As creatives I believe we all have those moments where we have a creative block or something happens that discourages us. Do you mind sharing a bad experience or struggle you’ve experience while on your journey?
Senior year of college when she was close to graduating, she was worried about making a successful career by doing what she love. Right after graduating she got a job working in tech. Mecca Media was actually developed because she didn’t want to “sell out”, she knew she was out of alignment but the job was paying her bills. Spiritually and emotionally drained from this tech job made it difficult for her to find the energy to work on her personal projects. It was a struggle to be creative and do what she loved and still pay the bills. She realized that she hated her job in tech so eventually she quit but even after leaving it was a struggle jumping back into creating.
What motivates you to keep going? Where do you get inspiration for new projects?
Moments like this. People reaching out to do different projects. Interviews, collaborations, conversations, talking about what she love and why she loves it reminds her why she does this. Telling her story to others motivates her to keep going.
Also working with elementary and middle school students, taking pictures of kids all day keeps her energized and motivated. Kids are so impressed by the smallest things. Capturing their lives for yearbook photos and school memories is rewarding. The small things help keep her motivated.
Also, watching TV shows like Insecure, online series like Giant and Black and Sexy TV keeps her excited to create new media.
What is your self care routine?
These days self care just looks like slowing down and doing nothing. Complete solitude. Mecca cherishes the moments where she can enjoying doing absolutely nothing. (AMEN!)
How often do you showcase your work?
Haven’t done it in a while. Last time she showcased her work was 2016. She wants to plan an art show and fundraiser giving back to the communities of Ghana.
Do you think being a woman makes a difference in your industry?
Yes! Definitely. She doesn’t think people take her seriously until she opens her mouth. Predetermined judgements based on her being a woman and black. Women are judged based on if she is attractive vs. unattractive. Her physical appearance, her hair, her speech, her size, the way she talks all part for women in this industry. She has never felt the need to play into people’s narrative for her. She continues to prove people’s judgements of her wrong. Sometimes she likes to switch her appearance to see the different reactions.
What has been your favorite project/ photoshoot?
She doesn’t really have a favorite. After completing a project she always feel like every shoot is her best shoot until her next shoot. She definitely can see growth in all her work. Mecca is always pushing herself to get better but she has no favorites right now.
Before we go, do you have any advice you would give to aspiring photographers or creative entrepreneurs?
Find your style and master it don’t get caught up in Instagram fame and popularity. Whatever it is you like to do go for it. What’s unique to you as a person will always stand out. Stay in your lane. Don’t compare your stage 3 (beginning) to someone else’s 20 (middle). If you can dream it you can achieve it. Do research. Create our own that’s how we’ll grow as a community.
Keep up with Mecca Media via her website www.meccaxmedia.com
Instagram : @meccaxmedia
“We can’t follow formulas we have to create our own blueprint” – Mecca
I know this is a long ass interview but I think there’s alot of great information here! Again, this is a first for me. From here I’m sure it will change and grow. My goal is to get better and who knows there may even be a podcast in my future *wink wink* lol
Thanks for reading & we’ll talk more next week!