feature: Spirit guides, Saint Heron, and community with Makeda Sandford

If you were to make a list of some of the best photographers here in Asheville and Makeda Sandford wasn't in your top three then you'd be wrong. Her eye for detail and color makes every one of her portraits feel intensely human and brimming with life. With a multitude of cool collaborations and features under her belt, the future looks very bright. Read our interview after the jump!

Tell us about who you are and what you do!
I'm Makeda Sandford, a 23-year-old college senior and freelance photographer/journalist. I write music journalism for Saint Heron and photograph mainly portraits.

How did you develop an interest in photography?
I developed an interest in photography right after I was obsessed with fashion. So it came naturally. I started off doing self portraits and macro nature photography as a middle schooler (lol).

What's your headspace like when doing a shoot?
I'm always trying to focus on the details in the midst of shooting, so each frame actually looks thought-out and intentional. I'm trying to read the environment and my model's energy as well.

What's one of the biggest challenges you've faced in your photography career so far?
My biggest challenge has been feeling a part of a photography community in the South, where what I do isn't more than a hobby in some minds. I didn't have much luck at first making photography or model friends until I started going to fashion photography meet-ups in Raleigh, and when I moved to Asheville the art scene was kinda exclusive as far as I could see inside, until I met a few people, branched out with my social media and traveled to bigger cities.

What's one of your most memorable photography experiences?
I hosted a meet up last February for Black History Month, and so many great friends and new friends showed up, with age range and different backgrounds! We had a potent discussion on race in Asheville and those portraits are some of my favorite to date. See these here.

If you could photograph any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Billie Holiday. I call her my spirit guide sometimes because I relate a lot to her. Sometimes I write poetry to her and it'd be amazing to get to capture her beautiful, tragic energy.

When it comes to music, who have you been listening to a lot lately?
I'll listen to anything once. Recently it's a mix on soundcloud or a hip hop artist I find somehow. Especially (as a music journo) if it's new. Lately I can't get enough of new albums by Sabrina Claudio, Daniel Caesar, King Krule and Mac Demarco.

Tell us about what it's like being a writer for Saint Heron? That's so cool!
It's really been a beautiful, affirming experience. Saint Heron is everything I would want in a music blog, and being a part of it is a dream. I've gotten to interview some amazing people and meet some amazing like-souls who work with me all over the country.

Follow Makeda Sandford on Instagram (@ohmakeda) / Cover photo by: Forest Wallingford