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Meet Alan Nakkash of Alan Nakkash Photography in North Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alan Nakkash.

Alan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Detroit to parents who had recently moved to the United States from Iraq. We moved to San Diego when I was 3 years old and that’s where I’ve lived ever since. As far as I can remember, I have always had an obsession with films and storytelling. I can recall writing and drawing stories in my notebooks which informed how I viewed the world.

I discovered photography when I was a senior in high school. I didn’t know at the time, but the introduction to winding my own film, processing in the darkroom, and using photography to allude to stories would have a big impact on my life. It wasn’t something I had considered doing full time until I took another photography class at Grossmont College two years into my post-high school education. I was so obsessed with the process and what you could communicate with photography that I changed my major after taking only three classes. That three class became another and another until I had taken every photography course they had to offer. I learned how to be purposeful with the camera and how to become a more critical thinker when looking at a photograph. I had the pleasure of taking courses with a few professors that helped shape my perspective on what photography was and what it could be. It reminded me of that excitement I had when I was writing stories in my notebooks as a kid. After Grossmont College, I transferred to UC Riverside and got a degree in Fine Art with an emphasis in Photography.

Once I graduated from college, I struggled with making photography a full time job. It was challenging to get my foot in the door and make the professional transition. It took a few years, but between taking on freelance jobs from close friends and marketing myself through social media, I was able to make photography my full time job.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There are always challenges when you set out to accomplish things that you really want to do. A lot of my challenges started in college. When I transferred to UC Riverside, I commuted up there from San Diego and occasionally lived in a motel room. My car ended up breaking down and I needed to get a new one that was more fuel efficient for driving long distances. I worked part time while going to school full time, and it was tough to have any sort of life outside of work and school. I did that for two years and became the first person in my family to earn a college degree.

That experience taught me a lot about going out to get things instead of waiting for them to happen. The challenge after college was figuring out how to become a full time photographer without the resources that college provides you. I learned to do less with more and make consistent work. Being a freelance artist also provides a lot of challenges and most of them are not related to your art. What they don’t teach you in school is how to market yourself and do the day-to-day logistical work of running a business. You have to learn and decide what your worth is, and that can be a very intimidating thing to put a price on. Becoming a clear and concise communicator has helped me better explain my work to others, which has been key to my success as an artist.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Alan Nakkash Photography – what should we know?
I own Alan Nakkash Photography, a photo studio that focuses on art, storytelling, collaborative branding, and commissioned prints. I specialize in creative projects that make use of visually enticing photographs and thematic concepts that evoke emotions. I strive to provide a unique perspective about the world and the people living in it. What I cherish the most are tangible objects, so I try to make physical prints and books whenever I can.

From big name brands such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Adobe, to more local San Diego companies like Gym Standard and Coffee & Tea Collective, I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients. The variety of products and lifestyle shoots I take on always provides a welcome challenge. What sets me apart from others is my ability to collaborate with the people I work with, understand their story, and reflect that in the photographs we make together.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There is no way I would be able to do this without the support of my girlfriend, close friends, and family. My girlfriend keeps things in perspective and encourages me when I have moments of self doubt, she is my biggest cheerleader. My close friends are artists and photographers as well and it feels nice to have a network of people to bounce ideas and questions off of to strengthen my own art. My family is always encouraging and never had any doubt about the success I would have.

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