Sophia Wilson: Beyond the Camera Lens
Author: Alyssa D'Orazio
POV: You get a camera for your 13th birthday and start taking photos of your friends and family. One day after school, you send out your photos to over 300 publications and editors, stretching the truth ~just a bit~ and say you're a professional fashion photographer based in New York. Next thing you know, you’re the youngest contributor to some of the biggest fashion outlets.
No, that isn’t the plot of a new Netflix movie (even though it totally could be). It’s the story of how Sophia Wilson got her start. Now a renowned photographer and visual artist, Sophia’s fearlessness catapulted her to success at a young age.
I've never really been afraid of trying new things or just going for it. A lot of things seem scarier than they are,” she said. “So once I did this and it worked … That was like the click in my brain that was like, Oh, I can do whatever I want in this world.
Growing up in New York City dared Sophia to explore on her own terms, an experience she credits her fierce confidence to. She knows sometimes it's hard to feel like THAT girl, especially so early into a career, but swears that her “delusional confidence” is the key to success. If you’re nervous on how to channel that mindset, she says, “You have to be delusional enough to believe that you're actually going to be that 1%. So find ways to fake the confidence until you actually have it.”
Her photography tells her life's story and ambitions. For Sophia, her introduction into the world of photography magnified the issue of diversity and representation in media. She realized her experiences, and experiences similar to hers, needed to be celebrated. Everyone deserves to see themselves in art– to have an avenue of expression and Sophia was ready to make that happen.
Growing up, I definitely noticed a lack of representation in the media, both in front of and behind the camera. None of them are black women. My photos are self portraits that capture youthfulness, coming of age, black womanhood and representation for other people that look like me.
In her work, now as a successful photographer, representation is everything. Sophia proudly does her own casting at her apartment/photo studio and makes sure she’s providing that representation for other girls.
Sophia’s Design Tips
Sophia’s confidence may be her key to success, but she knows how difficult it can be bringing art to life, or finding the inspo to create a new space. “Inspiration definitely comes in waves. There will be days where I'm feeling so uninspired, and then other days where I'm like, I feel like the most inspired person in the world.” It’s not about being perfect or creating something clean cut– it’s about capturing your passion, whatever that may be, and doing that in any way that you can. If you’re passionate about what you’re making, and you consider it art, that means you're an artist.
The next time you find yourself struggling to find your next source of inspiration, Sophia invites you to draw inspiration from the world around you. For her, that means highlighting the colors of New York City in her work or leaning into community with fellow creatives. She also emphasized the importance of filling your home with things that bring you joy. “Being able to decorate my own apartment is everything because I get to make these decisions; I get to choose what color everything is and what everything looks like. The space definitely impacts my mood.” It’s so important to create a space that you feel good in, that you can thrive in mentally and inspires you to think big.
Our visit to Sophia’s studio was especially exciting because we took over a blank wall in her apartment and brought one of her photos to life through TilePix Splits! It was so special to us to be able to bring a piece of Sophia’s work to her studio, a place that means so much to her.
I wanted a piece on that wall so badly but I just hadn't gotten around to it yet. So this is the most perfect thing; it's so stunning and seeing the way they put it up it looked so easy. Normally hanging stuff is so difficult, it is the one barrier between actually doing it and having the idea. It feels like we have lifted the gate on gatekeeping. Seeing my work grow in scale is huge.
Check out our full convo with Sophia!