Today we’d like to introduce you to Adia Buford.
Hi Adia, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
To answer this, Ima have to take it way back to where it all began— my mother’s womb. Stay with me. I did NOT take it easy on my mom while she was pregnant with me. I’d often break into fits of rapid kicking and punching. Please don’t ask why cause we have no idea. My behavior was completely unwarranted. I do know that of all the methods my parents employed to calm me down, only one worked— playing music—classical music, to be exact. Every time I’d break into a fit, my mom would turn on some classical music, place her headphones on her stomach so I could listen, and wait for me to settle down. The effect was nearly instant as I repositioned myself to get closer to the source. Turns out music has been my therapy from the jump.
I was surrounded by so much creativity growing up. My mom’s a singer, dancer, and writer; my dad’s a filmmaker, director, and writer. I feel like I left something out, so let’s just say they’re creative geniuses. Being surrounded by so much creativity as a child inspired me to create something of my own. From writing Christmas songs as an 8-year-old, drumming on cardboard boxes, taking apart toys and attempting to put them back together, drawing in the margins of my notebooks during school lectures, or playing imaginary games with my sister, I was always doing something creative.
I took a special interest in the visual arts early on. As I mentioned earlier, my dad is a filmmaker. Some of my earliest memories are filled with family friends coming over to our house to film skits that would be published online. I’ve held cue cards for my dad as he filmed, helped him set up lighting, and was even 2nd camera for him on one occasion when I was just 10 or 11 years old. My dad even encouraged my sister and I to create our own movie review channel on YouTube at the ages of 8 & 11. Our first and only episode is still public. I watch it every now and then when I need some inspiration. My interest in video eventually led me to start a YouTube channel where I reviewed tech & skateboard products. I used to be obsessed with skateboarding, but that’s a wild story for another interview. All ima say is wear your helmet.
My interest in video eventually led me to try out photography. I vividly remember the moment I fell in love with photography. I was about 12 years old when my family and I went apple picking with a group of friends from church. My parents brought a camera and allowed me to use it while we were there. It was a gray, plastic, digital point & shoot— a completely automatic camera that doesn’t allow you to zoom in/out or adjust the focus, lighting, etc. I can still hear the sound of it powering on. I was so excited to have that camera in my hands. I remember taking a picture of a shadow belonging to one of our friends that stretched diagonally across the dirt road we were on. After taking the photo, I showed it to my parents, who gasped, telling me how good my eye was. They then proceeded to show the picture to everyone around us. Y’all know how parents do. Fast forwarding to the summer of 2021, 20yr old me decided to pick up the camera again. After many years of neglecting my passion for reasons I’ll get into later in the interview, I decided to take a chance on myself and start doing what I love— capturing the authentic moments in life. The moments you smile about years after they’ve occurred.
Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It hasn’t been a smooth road by any stretch of the imagination. It took a lot of internal work for me to start creatively expressing myself the way I’ve begun to today. Shoutout to God, my therapist & my incredible support system for helping me get to this point. We’d be here all day if I went into detail about each mental & emotional obstacle I’ve had to overcome, but I will say this:
1. you are enough.
2. you matter.
3. your voice matters.
4. your story matters.
5. you are worthy of living the life you want to live.
6. you are worthy because you exist. your worth is not tied to your work or your ability to perform at a certain level.
7. stop avoiding the spotlight. You were made to shine, so shine.
I’ve spent the better part of my 21yrs avoiding the spotlight. I was hiding. I spent a lot of my time trying not to be “too great” there was a lot of self-sabotage going on. I didn’t want my greatness to make others uncomfortable or insecure about themselves. Instead of changing my environment to one that was conducive to my growth, I shrank & forced myself to fit somewhere I wasn’t meant to be. But to fit, I had to sacrifice parts of myself. I had to abandon the things that made me, me. All of this self-abandonment/shrinking for the sake of other people’s comfort mess reminds me of a poem by Marianne Williamson titled “Our Deepest Fear.” Shout out to my therapist once again cause she put me on to it. It perfectly encapsulates what I and so many others have gone through. It reads:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to manifest the glory of God within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously permit other people to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” Whew… Ima just leave that there.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My work is a celebration & appreciation of life & the art it inspires. I find such beauty in community & I aim to capture that beauty in all of my work. I love candid photography. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy capturing the authentic moments; the moments you smile about years after they’ve occurred. My commitment to authentic expression is one thing that I’m most proud of. My goal with everything I do is to tell a story so vivid that viewers who weren’t physically present at its unfolding feel as though they were.
What do you think about happiness?
My relationship with God makes me the happiest. He is the source of my joy & The Provider of all things good in my life. Being surrounded by the people I love makes me happy. Like extremely happy. I’m such a family girl. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing— we could be cooking, laughing, singing, sitting in silence, playing tennis, whatever. God really did His thing when He made my people. Sunsets make me happy. Cartoons make me happy. Seeing other people express their joy makes me happy. Creating makes me happy. Whether I’m writing a song, drawing, telling a story through film or photo, or acting on a stage, I love making art. Life, our very existence, is art. It’s beautiful. Art, in all its forms, is a means of connection, a way to celebrate life & affect positive change in the world. I consider it an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to capture, experience, and contribute to such beauty daily.