We had the good fortune of connecting with James Nwobu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
For a lot of business people, entrepreneurs or otherwise, the fact often gets lost that business exists to help people more than it does to make money. At the end of the day, the ones that truly support people over profit, are the ones that inevitably end up with the most profit, especially over the long run. Read any of the greatest marketing, business, leadership, etc books and they’ll say the same thing. But for whatever reason, as business people get into the thick of it, they often forget not only who they are, but who they’re talking to; and thereby, how to talk to them. Much of the work I do now helps people do just that, especially where there’s a visual component involved.
Please tell us more about your career. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
If I could sum up my passions in a few words, it would all surround theology, arts and athletics. At the end of the day, that’s what I care most about sharing stories of. I get excited at any point I get to enhance my own athletic capacity, but I’m also interested in the story behind the athletic state of mind, showcasing the kinds of life athletes live that produce the kind of performance we often think is “superhuman.” That’s why I love capturing the moments in between that show the struggle, pain, excitement, anxiousness, etc—and then for the people, the big moments too.
The best answer to “how I got where I am” would have to be a resilient pursuit of relationships. “Knowing” and “skill” are par for the course; but identifying, pursuing, building and sustaining relationships are what make everything possible. That’s never easy, and the best way to overcome inevitable challenges, is to maintain that resilient pursuit. Craft is key; but context (right place, right time, right relationship) is king—always. So that’s what I’d say: 1) enhance your skills and be undeniably good. learn how to learn, and learn how people and how the cultures/systems they operate in work 2) for me the road to the promised was never a straight one, so I learned to say yes to any opportunity that in any way would contribute to some level of forward movement towards the life work I saw for myself. I often recommend others do the same. Be picky, but not too picky. Get as much clarity about your direction as you can. Say yes to the things that align, and no to most things that don’t.
At the end of the day, I believe that people have incredible capacities that indicate the kind of creator God most of the world has not encountered. My work in all its forms is trying to communicate that message as visually compelling as possible, so that one day people operate in a way on earth, as it is in heaven.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My best friends are a good mix, so I can describe what I did for a friend couple that came in town recently. Funny enough, they were both college athletes, so they wanted to experience a good Arizona hike, so for the courageous ones, I take first timers to Camelback Mountain to try their hand at the Echo Canyon trailhead. We intended to take a long drive up north to check out Antelope, but the timing didn’t work out. When it was more chill, we took scooters and rolled through Roosevelt Row, checked out the Monorchid, ate at the Wilderness, stopped by Roosevelt Community Church, and cruised the streets to take in all the street art downtown. We also made it a point to check out the Warehouse District because why not? In the evening, shopping is always cool, especially when there are outdoor spaces like Uptown Plaza. So we popped into Manor before they closed up shop, grab some small cups of ice cream from Creamistry nearby, and then head over to the Yard for good eats, corn hole, ping pong and all the vibes.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh goodness. There’re probably too many to count. But I can’t deny the investment and support from some of my closest. One of my best older friends, AT, to start. Much of my sharpness comes from the way I learned to navigate the world’s pathways from him. A professor in seminary, who really helped me refine how to understand how to think clearly and understand worldview. And the big homie, Vermon Pierre, who took a big chance on me (and kinda still does), giving me the opportunity to flex my capacities in partnership with him and the church he pastors downtown. One last one (or two—or three), Pat, who literally helped launch my independent photography stint after I got laid off from a toxic work environment. He got me in ComplexCon (look it up), and the work I did there was the foundation in many ways for why I’m here. Chad, who helped me cut my teeth in commercial real estate photography work; and KB, who time and time again kept me off the ledge—easily one of my best friends in the area, bar none.