I'm Nicole Stephens, a photographer and new-found director based in Miami, Florida.
This project is so important to me because I want to be the representation that I didn't see the when I first started having interest in film and photo. The industry is so male-dominated that when I wanted to pick up a camera for the first time, I hardly — if ever — saw someone look like myself direct a short film or shoot a campaign. I then to subconsciously feel that this career path "wasn't for me". So, for this project, I wanted it to be 100% female-driven. Go big, or go home. It's really important to me that I be the representation to show the other female and non-binary individuals that they most certainly have a place in film, photo, and beyond.
For this particular project, I shot and directed a music video featuring the lovely Charlene Joan — an Independent artist from Tampa, FL. Her music explores a wide array of genres and is available on all streaming platforms.
And thank you to my wonderful P.A, Cortney Lesovoy, and makeup Artist, Huni Layne.
The meaning of my project is all about self-love and empowerment. The song that I shot and directed is about not having your wants and needs met by your ex-partner, but soon realizing they're giving everything you wanted and needed in the relationship to someone new. Initially, when I heard the song and conceptualized ideas for the visuals, I wanted it to reflect joy and confidence — not sadness. It's about accepting and moving forward stronger than you were before; working through your feelings and learning to provide one's own needs and wants through self love.
Working with a musician in this capacity was definitely intimidating. A music video production is much more difficult than a photo campaign, like what I'm typically used to. Meeting Charlene for the first time on set was a bit new-warcking, as well, but the incredible sense of community and female empowerment within our group put every unsettled anxious feeling at ease. She's worked with many photographers in Florida that I have loved and followed for so long that I had felt a bit of imposter syndrome at first! It came down to a ton of planning and proper communication. It certainly all paid off, she even came up to me after we wrapped proclaiming how she's never felt so happy and more comfortable in front of the camera, which made my heart soar.