We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikki Mata and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nikki, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk has evolved early in my life as a personal core value. It is where the quest for dreams and at times the downright impossible meets the beauty of possibility. This is the only way I could create the life I want and it is found on the other side of fear. I have found that risk-taking is the greatest gift because it builds trust with yourself and creates space for others to do the same. Whatever the outcome, the reward far outweighs the daunting first leap.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve always loved photography, even if I wasn’t pursuing it professionally. It wasn’t until I went on a missions trip to China where I was everyone’s personal photographer and documented our entire trip that involved working with very vulnerable people that had been completely ostracized by their own communities. The nature of the trip was quite heavy but it was also the most rewarding. It was then that the thought of pursuing it professionally was really on my radar and I continued this on other trips and working with organizations in the Philippines and Ecuador. These trips changed my life and I saw photography as drawing out the gold in people. If it doesn’t empower, I don’t want any part of it. Photography in my eyes has the greatest capacity to empower. I since have shot work that has been featured in Rollingstone, The Knot and Harper’s Bazaar. Sometimes the thing you’re meant to do is what has been with you all along.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love taking friends to different galleries across the city. Some of my favorites are Nino Mier, Regen Projects and various pop-ups like Photoville, which had a super insane variety of skate and music photography and artists from across the world.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a shoutout to all of the incredible photographers/creatives who have been generous with their knowledge to teach me what they know- Catie Laffoon, Grace Scuitto, Angela Peterman, Rollence Patugan, Philip Cuenco, Laura Ise, Sarah Shreves, James Law, Jordan Darian and the communities at Leica and LA Center for Photography. I promise to pay it forward too!

Website: www.nikkimata.com
Instagram: @nikkimata

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