• Skyler Neal

FEMME: Nina Fuller - Obama Photographer and Secret Cowgirl

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

Skyler: What is your biggest source of inspiration for your work?

Nina: Right now it's the sheep, you know it changes as you go but right at this moment it's the sheep, also my dogs.

Skyler: Where did you grow up?

Nina: I grew up in the Bronx and lived on Long Island until I was eight years old. My dad worked in the city and the city was the closest big town.

Skyler: Did you start photographing the city when you were young?

Nina: I went to art school in New Canaan, Connecticut for a while.We would go on field trips to New York to photograph. Right after college I moved to Maine.

Skyler: What is or has been your biggest creative obstacle?

Nina: Oh boy, the first word that came to my mind was creativity. I wouldn't trade it for anything but it's a challenge to live your life with that drive and passion because it's never done, never good enough. I mean that's just the way it is with artists and you have to understand that or else you'll be crazy. As you know a lot of artists are crazy. My friends have told me that I'm a little crazy (laughs).

Skyler: Well it's like a different mindset

Nina: Right, it's a different mindset and you know, to be on that edge is exciting and also crazy making. I mean that's the obstacle, keeping focused, and knowing that when you go through a period where you don't do anything creative at all, that's a really healthy break.

Skyler: I think one obstacle that my generation faces as a creative obstacle is the amount of content out on social media, everything is out there which makes it hard to be truly original. There's a guy on YouTube name Casey Niestat who does whatever he wants on YouTube and makes a career out of it. But his content is amazing.

Nina: That kind of stuff just blows my mind. Like how did that happen? I mean I use facebook to share my photos and before that you were way more isolated and have actual photography shows. You have people actually come to your studio or gallery. So in that way I think it's really good.

Skyler: Do you have any other creative hobbies other than photography?

Nina: I draw, but I didn't draw for a really long time. I used to draw in the seventies, I don't know why I just stopped drawing. I was looking at some of my old drawing journals and I decided to start drawing again.

Skyler: Biggest adventure?

Nina: A friend called me up, it was a friend from high school, I was getting divorced, had lost a really big account, they were tearing down my studio, I had these two little kids, and she said do you want to go horseback riding in France? I hadn't been on a horse in eighteen years. So I went and it was so fun because we were riding from end to end to end.

Skyler: That sounds amazing.

Nina: It really was. So the next year, my friends called asking if I wanted to go to Wyoming. After it was over, I was like 'I'm not stopping that, that was the best time'. It came up again the next year, I was still paying for last year's trip, so I re-created myself as a journalist. I told the owner, 'look I'm a photographer, I used to write for some newspapers, but I'll guarantee you an article.' I went, and that was really awesome. It ended up being the cover of the Boston Globe travel section. So after that I traveled the world and did the same thing, all equestrian vacations.

Skyler: That's crazy, and amazing.

Skyler: So what is the best career advice you ever got?

Nina: That would be just to keep doing it. Not for money, you just have to keep doing it all the time. You don't want to be doing something for the money, you have to enjoy it.

Skyler: Great advice

Skyler: How did you come about photographing Hillary and Obama?

Nina: Well that's the thing about doing it, and saying yes to everything, when I worked for the Press Herald I photographed presidents getting off the plane because that was my job. The democratic party called me, vetted me, and they did a security check on me. I've photographed Obama a couple of times and every time my heart is beating out of my chest, I'm thinking what if my camera doesn't work?

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