I was Introduced to Drexina Nelson through stylist Lamont Lawrence and as I prepped for the interview, I was not ready. I believe the word that I used to describe her was ‘overwhelming’.
This lady is a production studio boss, a creative, and self-proclaimed workaholic who has worked with everyone from Idris Elba to Nene Leakes.
Drexina is from Georgia originally, raised in Texas but moved back to Georgia for high school. She was raised in a culturally diverse environment which has given her an appreciation for the melting pot that we currently live in.
She started her career as a makeup artist and wanted more out of the profession. She decided to learn photography and eventually created a full-service production studio called The Society Studios located in Atlanta Georgia.
Drexina is driven and when you talk to women who are constantly creating and working it is difficult to avoid the inspiration that they naturally give you. If you are a photographer with dreams of taking your work to the next level you need to read this interview:
The thing that drives me the most is my mind and spirit. My mind is constantly on overdrive. I have a zillion and one ideas, however, it is my spirit that leads me to know which one takes precedence over the other.
I am in a place right now where what drives me the most is being true to myself and my creativity. I believe that creativity is a special gift, and one that must be utilized appropriately.
I stay motivated daily by constantly staying centered, in the moment, and thriving for excellence. I rarely sleep because my mind is constantly churning out ideas.
I stay motivated because I understand that while I am here I have a mission to accomplish… I have a purpose on this journey… I believe that until I reach my final destination, I am always learning and pushing for growth. That is what motivates me.
2. How did you transition from makeup artist to a production studio badass – describe that process including the moment you realized you wanted more than just ‘make up’.
I started dabbling in makeup during my youth however in 2005 I was at a crossroad. I was at a point where I had to make a decision to either continue working in corporate America or to live my dreams as a creative.
The decision to leave corporate America came when I had the opportunity to meet with a local agency that represented makeup artists.
The agent took a look at my portfolio and told me that my work was good however I must work with better photographers.
I made the decision at that moment to learn photography myself and to begin shooting my makeup work. Over time however, I began to fall in love with photography more than makeup. By 2006, I was no longer doing makeup and made strides to fulfill my new direction as a professional photographer.
3. What is The Society Studios?
The Society Studios is something super special to me. I like to call my studio a beauty production facility, as we can handle the production of a beauty project from concept to creation.
Our team works hard to help companies realize their true vision, and then we also help them to birth it. I believe that many companies just need a good creative doctor to help them bring their vision to life and that’s what the studio strives to do. Our motto is Your Vision. You Create. We Capture It.
I believe that sums up what we do. We assist our clients with creating long lasting, awe-inspiring imagery that exceeds their expectations.
4. What is the client experience like when they work with you?
At the Society Studios, our goal is to make our productions as seamless as possible. Our team is BIG on the experience of each of our clients.
Our facility is the first part of the experience because we have taken the time to put our hearts and soul into each detail of our facility.
On the wall are positive words that we as a team stand for. We make sure the music is upbeat, and there is a zesty lemongrass fragrance in the air.
We want to ensure that our clients have a positive experience from start to finish. We work in a non-stressful and drama free environment. All of our clients become like family to us, and we believe in taking care of our family!
My first celebrity shoot was with Akon. I met Akon through a friend that was his stylist at the time. She had a client that was a furrier, and they wanted to use him as the face of their campaign. The shoot was very easy and seamless. It was the beginning of the fast acceleration of my photography career in Atlanta.
6.Do you ever come out of a shoot with a bit of doubt, thinking, “That could have been better” or “I am not 100% happy with that” ?
There have been many occasions where I was not happy with a shoot. There are so many elements that as a professional you still can not prepare for.
For instance, if a model is beautiful but she cannot move, a celebrity client is late, or many obstacles like that can throw off the creative energy causing the production to go in a much different direction.
Many times however, if I take a step back and re-evaluate the images once I release the visual that was initially in my mind, I find that the images are never as bad as I thought.
Many times, it is the thought that because the image did not materialize the way that I thought that it would be considered a failure.
I have learned that I had to let go of my perception of what I wanted, and love it for what it was even if I was not 100% thrilled with the outcome. I have also learned that these instances are when I grow as a creative.
7. Describe a low point in your career, and how you overcame it?
The lowest point in my career was actually last year. 2016 was a rough year. While I don’t consider it professionally a failure, I was not in the mental space to perform.
I had a major death… actually a murder in my family that took my mind in a totally different direction. This was a
low point because at one moment, I thought that I would not make it through. How dare I continue to move forward in prosperity while a person that I love so much sits in an urn?
I was hurt to my heart and did not see the silver lining or the light at the end of the tunnel. 2016 was a dark time for me, and I felt totally alone.
I had to make a concerted effort to pull myself out of the wreckage. I had to go back to change my state of mind. I was a warrior… A victor and not a victim!
Although my loved one is no longer here, I had to make the choice to pull though. I truly know that he would not want me to fail. He was always so proud of my journey.
Though this trial, I have learned to be true to who I am as a creative and what I want as an individual. I am no longer looking outward for validation or looking for acceptance from others.
I had to learn that what I have as a creative no one else has, and that is worth its weight in gold. I believe that I am much stronger than I was yesterday, and I live in the belief that Marques is guiding my way each and every moment.
8. What would you tell an up and coming photographer who wants to get a bit more creative by starting a production company, what is the best advice you could give to that person?
My best advice to a new photographer is to study and to find a mentor that they admire. The best way to success is to be around it, and to study it.
As they say, if you are the smartest one in your group then it’s time to get another group. I believe that new photographer should shoot many genres prior to getting fixated on one.
Over time their style and niche will happen organically. My thoughts are that time is the best teacher so never rush progress. Just enjoy the process.
9. Would you describe yourself as a risk taker?
I am most definitely a risk taker however I can honestly say that there have been times where fear has challenged me to move forward. At this point I realized that most fears are not life or death so I continue to fight to create… regardless of what the little voice in my head says at times.
10.Describe the hardest shoot or production you have ever done?
On production, you never know when you will have a technical difficulty. One of the hardest production was my first time shooting for the reality show Housewives of Atlanta.
The reason this was so difficult was because I was not aware that their equipment shut down all of my wireless transmitters at the time.
I thought that all of my equipment just chose to not work on the day that we were filming for national television. Luckily, I was able to figure out that their equipment was super powerful and I was able to use my older cords and equipment to get through the shoot. That was almost a nightmare!!
11.If you could pick one celebrity client that is your fave who would it be (You can pick more than one)
I can say that I have so many celebrity clients that I love working with. It is truly difficult to name them as I don’t want to leave anyone out!
Me – Fair enough!
12. Looking back, what would you tell your 15yr old self?
I would tell my 15-year-old self that she beautiful, smart, unique, and amazing just the way she is. There is no such thing as perfection.
I would also tell her to trust her intuition as her guide in life, don’t take no as the final answer, believe in herself, stop looking to others for approval, don’t be afraid to shine, and to value each moment of this life….
Lastly, I would tell her that no matter how successful she ever becomes that family is the most amazing gift that was given to her… and to cherish that with everything.
I want to thank Drexina for allowing me to share her story with my audience you are truly an inspiration to us all the epitome of #Blackgirlmagic. You can find Drexina on Instagram here and on here website here.