TEREKAH NAJUWAN BIO
My childhood was spent amidst the recurring waves of civil war in a small village in Yei, South Sudan. My family and I were constantly uprooted, moving from village to village, and eventually finding ourselves in a refugee camp. Memories of dust rising around a circle of my mother and aunts as they mourned, and my grandfather sitting alone under a Teak Tree, smoking his pipe as I was taken away, still haunt me to this day. Yet, there is no photographic record of these moments, only my vivid memories.
It's crazy to think now that at the time, I saw photography as something unattainable and exclusive, a tool only accessible to those with knowledge and resources. But it was the work of Swiss photographer, Robert Frank, that changed everything for me. Seeing how he captured and told the stories of everyday Americans from an outsider's perspective gave me the permission to see myself as a storyteller too.
Despite having no photographic record of my past, my memories are powerful and emotionally impactful. They serve as a reminder of the resilience and strength I possess, and the importance of using photography as a medium to tell my own story.
My journey through war and displacement has shown me the true power of photography. It's a universal language that can connect people across time and distance. I am determined to use this tool to tell my story and the stories of others who may not have the platform to share their experiences.
I am excited to see what I will create with my passion for photography and my life experiences as inspiration. My story serves as a reminder that no matter what obstacles we may face, we all possess the power to create something beautiful and impactful.
Now, I live in Los Angeles and work as a professional photographer. It's been a long journey, but I wouldn't be where I am today without my passion for photography. It's the one thing that has always been a constant in my life, and it's given me a sense of purpose and meaning.
People often ask me what inspires my photography, and the truth is, everything does. I am a visual junkie, and I find inspiration in everything from the colors of a sunset to the pages of a book. But perhaps the most significant source of inspiration for me is my background. Growing up, I didn't have any role models who looked like me or came from the same background as me. I wanted to change that. I wanted to be the first Sudanese photographer to make it big in the industry.
As an artist, I photograph everything that intrigues me, from commercial and advertising work to fine art and documentary. I do commercial and advertising photography to pay the bills, but it's the fine art and documentary work that really excites me. I believe that photography is a powerful tool for storytelling, and I want to use my work to tell the stories that I believe need to be told.
What I love most about photography, It's hard to put into words, but I think it's the ability to capture a moment in time. With just one single frame, I can freeze time and look back on that moment for years to come. It's a way of preserving memories and experiences in a way that nothing else can.
For any young photographers out there, my advice is to educate yourself on art history, practice, and continually sharpen your skills. Most images have already been created, so the challenge is how to refresh the world with your view in a way that has never been seen before. It's not an easy task, but it's a challenge worth pursuing.
When it comes to my own photography now, I have a lot of photographers that I look up to. Robert Frank, Irving Penn, Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon, Malick Sidibe, David LaChapelle and so many more. They all have their unique styles and approaches, but they all share a common passion for photography that I deeply admire.
Years from now, when I look back on my life and my career, I want to be proud of what I've accomplished. I want to be an established photographer, collaborating with international artists and being part of a new generation of African image makers sharing our work and experiences. I believe that photography has the power to change the world, and I want to be a part of that change.