We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie Nishioka and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As a landscape photographer from the island of Kauaʻi, risk-taking influences my decisions in my life and career. However, when it comes down to following a photography career, it is one of the most highly competitive industries in Hawaiʻi to choose. Therefore, you must show your creativity and demonstrate your uniqueness from other photographers. Sometimes this involves being adventurous to capture different and surreal perspectives of landscape on Kauaʻi that could put my life at risk. Such as adventuring to challenging trails, hiking mountains up to 3000ft high, and freediving 35ft below the pacific ocean.
What I am saying is without risk, you will always stay in your comfort zone. Suppose you continue to remain in the safe zone. In that case, you will be giving up on the opportunities and life experiences to learn and try something new that could change your life. Sometimes when you want to achieve your goals, you will have to take risks to create opportunities. However, it won’t guarantee your success. You could fail many times, but the more you fail, the better knowledge and information youʻll gain to make a better decision.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Nataliearth photography is meant to fill empty spaces. I hope these photographs inspire you to feel rooted in existing moments, conquer your fear, & live a mindful lifestyle for the planet we cherish. My mission is to focus on three ideas that structure around my business and personal life I aspire to follow: Creativity. Community. Environment.
Creativity. My passion is to capture what I see through my lens and turn it into a creative way of beautiful moments on earth. The thrill of the adventure experience gets me inspired to get out in the natural world and explore. The places I’ve traveled to challenge my mental and physical capabilities to envision creative perspectives. Those cherished photographic moments are made to fill empty spaces with a home in mind, Kaua’i. May these wall art pieces spark inspiration and happiness in your life as much as it brings me gratification to capture these moments.
Community. As a local island wahine (women) who grew up on the island of Kaua’i, my values are rooted in the land, people, and culture. Therefore, I want to emphasize and express my gratitude to my community. My way of giving back to the local community is to support fundraising events for critical issues and contribute my time to volunteer with local non-profit organizations.
Environment. In times of awakening and experiencing the devastating environmental changes throughout the world from climate change, implementing a sustainability movement is a must. My sustainable journey begins with up-cycling recycled material and packages from local stores to give it a second life to keep it out of our landfills. Alongside, I use 100% recycled natural kraft rigid mailers to protect our prints during shipment. I am committed to becoming plastic-free and net zero emissions by 2022 because, as a small business, it’s time to be a part of the change for our future. To be better and do better for the earth.
Photography has become a part of my life since the early years of my childhood. I started taking pictures with my Nintendo DS, flip phone, Finepix Z Fuji- Film Camera in middle school, Canon t3i in high school, and a sonya7 in college. These were all gifted by my parents throughout my life. I am beyond grateful to my parents for allowing me to find my passion for photography at such a young age.
Through high school and college, I spent hours behind the computer editing my photographs in the lightroom in my free time. I kept practicing from time to time, and I eventually found the editing style that represents me. A vivid, lively, and adventurous colors and outlook on life draw your attention to the photography that sometimes steals the qualities of a painting.
Out of the blue, many of my friends insisted on selling my photographs. Before I knew it, I spent my free time focusing my energy on building a shop online. This idea started during the pandemic in June 2020. I used that time to refine my goals, learn how to make monetary value selling photography, file federal and state taxes, and start a business. At the beginning of 2021, I finally dared to register my business, Nataliearth.
As a sole proprietor, I had to create and organize a platform to sell and inform my customers through the first few months. I worked diligently on updating my website. I had to do research on what materials and supplies I needed. I needed to learn how to better organize and book keep my profits. And started to invest in equipment and materials to attend markets. The first local art market I heard of was in April 2021. After experiencing different markets for 9 months, I think it was time to register my business into an LLC, Nataliearth LLC, in October to become an official business.
It wasnʻt easy at. First, everything had to be self-taught, so I spent hours day and night researching and learning as much as I could about what I needed to know about starting a business. It was challenging, but I told myself it would take time and baby steps.
Over time, I’ve learned three necessary factors through starting a photography business. First, you need to focus on your own journey, have confidence in yourself that your work is valuable, and not compare your work to other artists. Just like you, they are living their journey through their artistic passions. Second, take time for yourself to clear your mind. You need to rest up and take care of yourself mentally and physically to run your business. This year, I’ve become more aware of the challenges I faced personally and have been working on healing myself through photography. Third, your mind and action should move like water. You must be able to bend, shape, and adapt at any given moment. It’s essential to be open-minded and flexible to any hurdles that may come your way to challenge you.
Once you find the unique talent you are gifted, find a way to monetize it into a business. Then, follow your passions, grow, learn, and become the best version of yourself. Keep striving and never give up on the good you aspire to be. This, too, is a reminder to feel grounded in existing moments, conquer your fears, and live a mindful lifestyle for the planet we love.
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.
I would take them hiking to all my favorite places on the island, especially up into Kokee and the north shore. On the way to Kokee, I would stop at Ishihara’s market to pick up my favorite spicy ahi poke bowls or stop at Japanese grandma’s cafe to pick up deep-fried crab bowls. Then I would take my friends to hike some trails, and after the hike, we could stop at the Kokee lodge to grab homemade chai tea to drink and eat in the meadow. Then, depending on how long we stay up there, we could wait to watch the sunset at the lookouts.
When I take them Northshore, I will stop at java kai to grab breakfast and Kauai juice to grab some fantastic kombucha. Then, I would take them on adventures to different beaches such as Hanalei. I would teach them how to surf, and we would relax and tan on the beach. For lunch, we can stop at the dolphin to grab some fantastic sushi, and if we have a sweet tooth, we can grab some taro donuts from the holy grail. Finally, after we were filled up, I would take them snorkeling and post on the beach to watch the sunset.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people touched my heart with their words of encouragement. First of all, I want to shout out to my parents, Kent & Shelley Nishioka, for not just being my sponsors. But for just being present in my life and trusting the lifepath I am pursuing. Second, I want to thank my Uncle, Leroy Sakaguchi, owner of S & S Business machines on Kauaʻi, for helping and supporting me with business. He shared some business advice and fantastic life lessons to help me become wiser and a better person by always using my heart first.
I want to shout out to my sista loafs (Shealynne, Jordan, Chloe, & Angel) to give me the courage and support my vision in the photography business. I wanna shout out to my adventure friends, Frankie, Heather, & Hikari, who are crazy enough to hike and adventure into the unknown with me. I want to shout out to all of my friends who supported me from the beginning to purchase my photography artwork and the friends I’ve met when I attended art markets. A shout out to Emily Szurgot (@oneearthessentialskauai), who introduced my business to Shoutout LA! I appreciate you so much, and I canʻt wait for you to exceed in your career! A shout out to my angel, Kaylee Tayler, who inspired me and gave me the courage to never give up and follow my dreams. And lastly, all of my customers who supported my journey, it wouldnʻt have been possible without all of you.