THIS IS US X GIDA: Saphir Niakadie


In honor of International Women's Day, THIS IS US and GIDA Journal have teamed up to celebrate African female photographers through a self-portrait series "Through Her Lens,".

The photo series features a curated selection of self-portraits and introspections, each telling a unique story and reflecting on the individuality, strength, and resilience of the woman behind the lens.



Can you share any insights into your creative process and how you maintain a sense of authenticity and originality in your work

I, like many artists, struggle with this. I have learned over the years that my art is a reflection of me and my experiences. When I am being intentional about being true to myself and accepting all aspects of who I am, it reflects in my work. Last year, I decided to focus on tapping into creativity in general as a way to revisit my creative process. I captured images for fun and curiosity.  I wanted to allow my mind to wander like it used to when I first started and remember what brought me joy. I find that my work is spiritual, in the sense that it's a gift that comes effortlessly and so the focus is to nurture that relationship versus searching outside of myself for what the work should be.


As an Ivorian photographer based in Brooklyn, how do you navigate the intersection of different cultural influences in your work? What is it like photographing in Cote d'Ivoire in comparison to New York?

One of the things that became clear to me with the creative cleanse mentioned above was that people and the human experience are key to my work. Regardless of where I am, I truly enjoy connecting with people and bringing the light out of them. This is what has helped me navigate the contrast between these 2 places, our shared experiences. Photographing in Cote d'Ivoire is love, I don't get to capture my people often so it always feels special. I never expected it to be the same as a place like New York with creatives and creative work at every corner. Though it is still pretty new to aim for a creative life in a place like Cote d'Ivoire, there is a beautiful ecosystem that exists in places like Abidjan. New York has everything you need but requires connections, connections, connections. You can be in a bubble and create alone but I have found that it is valuable to network, genuinely connect and build with a community.


Can you share any experiences or challenges you have faced with gender representation and how you have addressed them?

I think the main challenge has always been being taken seriously, especially in a place like Cote d'Ivoire where there aren't many female photographers or artists. I can't tell you the number of times I say I am a photographer and it gets replaced with "model" lol. I personally have found great success in letting my work speak for itself. I have more champions of my work because I am not boastful so even when I don't speak or am not around, people speak of my work . I don't take that for granted, it's something I've been intentional about creating. For those who don't take me seriously at first glance, once they see the work, it is understood who I am and what I am about.


Is there a difference between play and work for you? How do you draw the line and what would you say is the key to your success as an artist?

Definitely is a difference and I am one of those people that likes to draw the line between the two. I think it's because my background is super corporate. Though, I do believe that working in my passion is play and sometimes, it feels like a bit of spiritual play too. I ask for guidance and help developing my vision, God answers and I am obliged to deliver. I take that portion of it very seriously and that is where the line is drawn for me. When things have to be delivered, there is no other option. Applying yourself to ensure that it happens is your responsibility as an artist. As far as the success, it's all attributed to remaining true to self. Everyone's eye is different so I focus on the fact that no one will see things the way I do. I trust that and I trust the gift.



You capture your subjects so honestly. If you were to be captured by one photographer, who would it be?

Thank you, that is always the goal! I am a really big fan of Marcos Florentino and Kevin Yule, also known as Mar+Vin. I am always in awe of the artistry and I know our minds would collide for something beautiful.


How do you approach dressing? What does your style say about you?

I love dressing up! I am known for this hahaha. I think I really enjoy my femininity and lean into it very often and it reflects in my style. I would say it's a mix of regal, a bit classic (thanks Maman) and feminine. I love pulling in aspects of African fashion as well! In the next few years this will show a bit more in my style.


What aspect of your love for life comes through in your work?

None lol I keep these things close to heart. If anything comes through it's probably navigating love of self in times of tribulation and what that entails, like the series "Breathe". I'm looking forward to exploring more of this in works to come.



Saphir Niakadié is a portrait and fine art photographer born and raised in Abidjan,Cote d'Ivoire and currently resided between Brooklyn, NY and Abidjan. Her work explores themes of the human experience, femininity, capturing the light of her subjects while weaving in inspiration from her background and culture. With time Saphir hopes to continue capturing subjects with more intimacy and wholeness. See more via her website and Instagram.

Saphir wears the Oversized cropped shirt in Shibori Print and Baggy Trousers in Deep Dark