Words by Sasha Bannister
Nailah Howze, known as “Cloudnaii”, has been a prominent figure in the art scene in the last 3-4 years. Currently based in Southern California, the fashion and portrait photographer / videographer, known for her diverse clientele, has built her career in helping individuals embrace and flaunt their flaws. In today’s interview, we got the chance to talk about her start in photography, the most gratifying part of being a photographer, and much more.
Before we begin, would you like to introduce yourself? (Name, Occupation, Based)
A: My Name is Nailah Howze, also known as “Cloudnaiii, and I like to refer to myself as ‘Queen of behind the scenes’ as I have dipped into everything creative from photography to videography.
I know that photography is something you’ve enjoyed since childhood, but did you think it would eventually become your profession? Growing up, was art (in general) something you were allowed to express an interest in?
A: I honestly don’t think my family thought I would end up going this far with it … but my parents have always supported anything that makes me happy and pays the bills.
If I’m correct, you were raised in a military family, which meant you were prone to moving around quite often. Do you think this upbringing is what made you gravitate towards photography (a medium used for capturing moments)?
A: Absolutely, I was forced to move often. Adjusting to new environments was hard and I felt misunderstood a lot of the time. Art was the one thing that I didn’t mind being “misinterpreted” or in my case “misunderstood.”
“I love being that connecting piece that takes someone from good to GREAT”.
You began your career as a photographer back in 2015, while still serving in the Air Force – I’m curious as to how you managed pursuing both careers?
A: Honestly the Air Force was truly a challenging and rough time in my life … the deeper I fell in love with photography the more I was distracted by the reality I was truly living in … it was a healthy escape for me and made me advance in a short amount of time. I would drive almost a hour everyday after work to shoot in the studio.
As a photographer, your role includes bringing someone else’s vision to life & capturing genuine moments. What part of your job has been the most gratifying thus far?
A: Honestly being able to shoot women who are insecure about something and showing them how beautiful they are. Connecting with women and learning more about their goals makes me happy. I love being that connecting piece that takes someone from good to GREAT.
There is a saying that art influences society – do you agree with this? If so, how do you think art (in this case, photography) influences culture and society? How do you think your art has influenced society (or how would you like it to in the future)?
A: Art absolutely influences society … we shape how people view things. Sometimes people don’t feel like doing research and instead want to see a quick photo and make their own assumptions. This can be good and bad … but I love being able to build content for artists / models and truly catch a vibe and be able to bring that to life in photos. I want to be known as the regular black girl who brought other “regular girls” to the spotlight who might not have had all the resources to do so.
Aside from being a photographer, you are also a very skilled videographer. Do you think that is something you will explore a little more throughout the year? What are some of your overall goals for 2019?
A: I wanted to do film before I wanted to do photography to be honest … the only thing stopping me is the equipment I need. However, I have dipped my hands in others projects and might have something dropping by the end of the year.
See more of Nailah’s work here, and follow her socials @cloudnaiii