Meet Nisha Phongpetra (@nannisha) , the 24-year-old co-founder of Helmi Jewelry.
Apart from snapping the likes of Kylie Jenner, Aimee Song and Nuria Ma, Nisha assisted top photographers while studying Photography at Parsons, one of the world’s best design schools. Not your typical #35mm #filmisnotdead #analog kind of girl.
📷 || How It All Began || 📷
· How did you get into photography?
My first ever camera was a gold Canon compact camera and to begin with, I just enjoyed taking photos of my friends. This passion then evolved into something bigger and my dream career was to become a fashion photographer.
To be honest, when I first told my parents I wanted to go to art school, they didn’t take me seriously… my dad didn’t really understand it. However, when I started building my portfolio for college applications, they saw how determined I was and ended up being super supportive.
· Of all the people you’ve worked with, who’s at the top of your list? And how come you’ve snapped so many high-profile people?
Phil Poynter was my favourite! I also liked working with Tada Varich and Wasan Puengprasert. I was lucky to know someone at New York Fashion Week so she took me in … that’s where I shot Kylie Jenner and Aimee Song.
Some opportunities were totally unexpected. Like when I snapped Nuria Ma, we happened to be on vacation at the same hotel. It took a lot of internal debating in my head but I finally walked up to her and we had a nice chat about art school and my jewelry brand, Helmi. After we exchanged numbers, we did a shoot for Helmi back in New York.
It takes a lot of nerve to reach out to people because rejection can be scary. But in the end, if I really want to shoot someone, I would try and make it happen.
· What are you up to now?
After working at Spherical, a digital marketing agency specializing in travel and hospitality, I’m now doing a masters in Integrated Marketing at NYU.
Also, today I'm wearing Helmi Jewelry, a freshwater pearl jewelry brand I started with 2 other friends. I'm in charge of the marketing side, so I take photos and create most of the content. So ideally, I want to grow my brand and see where that leads. I want to work in the creative field for sure, something to do with visuals and marketing. Perhaps a creative director.
🗽 || Life in the Big Apple || 🗽
· What’s it like to live in New York?
It’s the quintessential melting pot. You’re surrounded by people from all walks of life who work super hard, ooze ambition and dream big. The energy is incredible, it’s contagious. It drives me to work harder and become a better version of myself. Life in New York is so fast-paced and busy, so whenever I’m back in Bangkok I need to reset and calm down a bit because the pace is much, much slower here.
· We imagine art school to be pretty intense. Especially as Parsons is one of the world’s best design schools. How did you find it?
Honestly, I think it’s been one of my biggest risks. It’s so niche and everyone is so focused on their own work. I mean, it’s good to be on the same wavelength and have artsy conversations, but at the same time, it can be isolating sometimes. Everyone spends so much time and effort crafting their art and trying to perfect it. It’s almost like going to college alone. I know for sure that going to a normal college would have been a totally different experience. Maybe even a better one.
👄|| Up Close & Personal || 👄
· In your own words, what is love?
My strong family relationship has really influenced my definition of love. Our bond is so special and something I’m super proud of. Knowing that they’ll always be there for me has given me confidence to explore things and make my own decisions. So for me, love is being ready to walk together, side by side, whatever life throws at you. But before you can fully support someone else, you should be able to be happy on your own first. That’s why embracing solitude is really important. I also believe being in love should you’re your life better … otherwise why bother?
· How’s your love life been? What are you looking for?
I’ve been spending a lot of time on my own. My last relationship really opened my eyes on how I can improve myself such as toning down my stubbornness and perhaps becoming more patient. I’m just trying to find balance and grow into a better person.
As for what I’m looking for, I’d say family needs to be a top priority for both of us. I admire someone who is confident and knows what he wants in life – that’s very attractive. I set goals all the time and although I haven’t figured everything out 100%, at least I’m trying to. So I’d appreciate someone who shares the same mindset.
· Best advice you’ve ever heard?
It’s so cliché: you should treat others the way you want to be treated. Everyone is human and deserves to be treated with kindness. Just be nice! Always try to think about others more and surround yourself with positive people who lift you up. This was a big lesson for me last year.
Another piece of advice is to accept that change is normal. Meeting new people, finding new passions, and having new experiences can change us. So it’s okay to outgrow certain people, or be outgrown. Sometimes, the people you love need to go and find their own paths. Just be supportive from a distance, and let them grow.