First Friday Feature: Regan Nishikawa

Nothing says creative storytelling better than Regan Nishikawa’s work. The amount of detail he puts into the characters and the storyline within each image stands out as they are displayed in a beautiful array of colors. Every location he chooses for the images he produces wraps up the whole atmosphere perfectly, creating alternate worlds and realities. I am honored to feature his work and to have the opportunity to delve into his mind. Continue reading below to take a peek into his creative process.


1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, what makes you tick?
Well for starters, I hate these kinds of questions hahaha. It forces you to think about yourself from a different perspective, and usually one I’m not familiar with. Perhaps that tells you something about me, I don’t know. I’m a fan of music, art, and food (listening, creating, and cooking). And I have a habit of overdoing it socially, despite the fact that I’m an introvert who gets worn out quite quickly. Art has always been a huge factor in my life, even as a kid, so it’s no real surprise that I use photography as a form of expression. Oreos are my kryptonite, and I will most certainly want to squish any dog that is in my presence (squish in the good way, I love dogs).


2. What got you started in photography?
Honestly speaking, I majored in graphic design and one of the required classes was a basic photography class. I worked for a summer to save up and bought my first DSLR: Canon Rebel T3. It was during this time that I started discovering the main ways of using photography and my interest just grew from there.


3. Describe your workflow. What is unique about your process? What do you enjoy most when creating an image?
My workflow is very chaotic and spontaneous. Absolutely awful for working with others, and that is usually why my photos are self-portraits. Though I do feel some of my better works are when I collaborate with another person, so I try and be patient with concepts and plan them out with people when I can.
For me I will sometimes get such a strong image in my mind, all the details are clear and I know exactly what I want to do. When I am able to create an image almost exactly the way I pictured it, that is what I love the most. It feels amazing when it happens, a personal victory.


4. What camera equipment do you use? Do you have a favorite lens?
I currently use a Canon 70D with either my 35MM, 50MM, or 85MM. Though I’ve been using the 85MM more as of recently. My other two are somewhat broken right now, but I think if they were all in perfect shape I would be using the 50MM the most.


5. Is there a certain theme you try and express in your work? Why do you feel a need to share that?
My work is very personal. Aside from doing spur of the moment photoshoots or having a theme created for me (Lightbulb Project) almost all of my work is started from my life experiences. People have their outlets, whether it is excercise, painting, writing music, playing games, or any other activity/hobby. For me, it’s photography and music. Music for when I just need to get away, but photography when I want to visually expel it outwards. I would definitely say I create not for others, but for myself. If people enjoy it, than that’s a positive side effect.


6. Where do you find your inspiration? What stories compel you to create?
Oops, I guess I kind of answered this in the previous question. I’ll just add on that people have their highs and lows. I can certainly look through my photographic journey and see where I was at during that moment. And strangely enough, I find that sometimes my best images come out of the worst days. Funny how that is.


7. Out of your images, which is your personal favorite and why?
I don’t really have a favorite. Because I’m constantly changing my process, and continuing to get better at what I do my favorite tends to change as well. I will say that I have a variety of images I could pick out, but all for different reasons. Whether it’s because of the production value (5th and 7th image down), the post-processing (4th image down, 1st image, and last image), perhaps the person I’m working with (2nd image down and second to last one), how well the idea came to fruition (5th one down and first image), how important the image is to myself (6th one down, the one above, and last image), and so many other reasons (all). It would be absolutely impossible to select only one image that I value over all the others.


8. Who has been your biggest role model and/or mentor during your journey?
I’m not really sure I have a “role model” per se. But I discovered the more conceptual photography (when I first started out) through the means of Joel Robison, David Talley, Kyle Thompson, and Rob Woodcox. While I do not necessarily look up to them anymore as role models, I do continue to be inspired by them. And being part of Joel’s Lightbulb Project has been amazing for several reasons, one being that he is one of the people that got me into doing what I do today.


9. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
You’re never going to make everyone happy, so create for yourself and do what makes you happy.


10. What would you tell your younger self, the you who just started photography?
About the same I reckon. Life isn’t perfect, you will have days of dissatisfaction and hit creative blocks. But things work out, there is light at the end.



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