We had the good fortune of connecting with Nassir Ward and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nassir, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The thought process of starting and running my own business has gone through multiple stages over the years. During my junior year in high school I picked up the family camera in my house, so I could do something productive with my time when I was not participating in athletics. I always found photography interesting as it has been used to capture moments in history and tell stories. However, the idea of wanting to be a photographer or aspiring director in the film industry was not the ideal option for an Oakland raised black kid to be successful. There was already a standard of what we could do to make it out of Oakland which was sports. I took that as a challenge to use this newfound passion of mine as a platform to show my peers that we were able to do anything to be successful and go beyond what society expects us to be. I played around with the camera for a year and decided to stop sports to solely focus on bettering myself in photography. I had no idea where this journey would take me, but I had the intention to break barriers in my community. With the hardship my immediate Oakland community was dealing with, in addition to the other issues around the world, I wanted to show a positive light on my people and the beauty in life. My peers and I live in a generation with endless opportunities that generations before never experienced, and there is no limit to where we can take it.
The most important thing behind starting my own business was sharing my perspective of the world and building everlasting connections in the process. As I began to share my point of view of the world, I’ve started creating my own world in the process through my work. I wanted to create a world that represented my peers and I to encourage all of us to constantly excel together. To back up that objective I created my tagline “Nas meets world” as I knew this passion of mine would allow me to reach people of all walks of life. What made me stick with it was my nickname being “Nas”, and being inspired by the rapper Nasir ‘Nas’ Jones and his songs “The World Is Yours” and “If I Ruled The World”. I want to be able to reach people not just in Oakland, but expand to places such as Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, the UK and beyond. To build those everlasting connections I have relied on my concept of networking and talking to people every chance I can. Whether I am at the airport waiting on my flight, on the plane, on the bus for seven hours to LA & back home, grabbing something to eat with friends, or at a social gathering; I know there is an opportunity for connections to be made.
The plan was always to use photography as a stepping stool to enter in the film and TV world. Photography has been used to document moments and the stories behind them; but to further those stories cinema-photography adds sound and movement. I am pursuing to be a director in the film industry to tell the stories that need to be told.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I believe what sets me apart from others is my ability to network with others. I have no shame in reaching out to someone I believe I can capture the best way possible. I find my work to be personal and special to each person I work with, as I aim to capture and understand the true essence of each person. When I work with someone I want to make sure their input is considered, as we are a team creating something together. What makes me the most excited is connecting with other creatives to pick their brains and see what we can create. I think it’s cool to create these amazing memories with my peers, giving us the ability to share them with future generations. The idea of showing range has been important to me this year and going forward, as I want to show I can execute anything. It took a lot to get to where I am professionally and what got me through any challenges I had was believing in myself. I learn from every situation, whether it is a blessing or lesson, and apply it to the next on how I can be better. Constantly thinking about my end goal and all those hours I have spent perfecting my craft has kept me going. The most important lesson I have learned was to not quit and I might as well finish the journey I chose to embark on, because I am halfway there.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Okay for the people that really know me they know I am a big foodie person, so for a week long trip I am definitely doing a food tour around the Bay Area with them. First place I would take them would be Tacos Sinaloa taco truck on International Blvd to get some of the best tacos in the world. If they are fans of mac & cheese, the second place I would take them would be Homeroom which is an all mac & cheese restaurant. My go to from Homeroom is the buffalo chicken mac & cheese. I am a sucker for a good sandwich, so the third place I’d take them is this place called Ratto’s Deli in downtown Oakland where you can make your own sandwich. Now I have been going to this place since I was born, so the forth place I would take them is a restaurant called Asmara which serves Ethiopian food known as injera. The next food place I would take them would be Proposition Chicken which has become a favorite of mine recently because of the quality of their food and service. Another good spot for sandwiches I would take them is called Ike’s Love & Sandwiches in downtown Oakland, which has a variety of options to pick from. I usually pick the mc hammer sandwich. To end the trip, the last place I would take them is a taqueria called Los Comales in the Fruitvale area that I has the most authentic Mexican food. As far as drinks I am a big milk tea/boba person, so I would take them to my go to T4 in San Leandro. For some dessert I would definitely them to the ice cream shop called Cream that makes ice cream sandwiches. The best spots to enjoy these meals are Lake Merritt, Grizzly Peak in Berkeley, or the Morcom Rose Garden on the grand lake side of Lakeshore.
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?
There are so many people I would like to give a shoutout to for this journey I have embarked on, but for now I will only do a few. The first person I would like to recognize is my longtime friend Matanda, who I have known for 15 years. He has shown me the what it looked like to constantly perfect ones craft through his passion as a drummer, and always believed in me with whatever I pursued. Secondly, I would like to recognize another longtime friend Andre, who I have known for 9 years. Andre took me under his wing when I started photography and we would go all around the Bay Area to take photos every chance we got to get better. Lastly, I would like to recognize my mom. Thank you mom for all the sacrifices you made as a single parent to raise and protect my brother and I, and providing us the best opportunities possible.
Personal photo by Andre Lusan