Fashion, travel, and lifestyle blogger Onyi Moss at Wythenshawe Park in Manchester, shot by her husband Craig
“Onyi Moss’s responses to my interview questions are deliberate little gems, each a work of art unto itself, like her imagery telling a story that goes beyond face value. Everything Onyi does rings of authenticity, striking chords that feel imaginative, intentional, and inspirational all at once. After a long admiration of her Instagram feed and blog, I couldn’t be more proud to feature Onyi Moss's fine portraits and words in these pages.”
SteamLine Founder, Sara Banks
MY CONVERSATION WITH ONYI
SB: Tell us about your creative process. Each image is like a work of art. Where do you go to find inspiration? And can you tell us what goes into the creation of each image? How long can you spend preparing, shooting and editing?
OM: A lot of my inspiration comes from nature. You can tell I especially have a love for flowers. I also find inspiration in films, music and a good book. Inspiration is something I constantly and consciously seek. That way I'm never quite lacking for it. You could almost say it's become a way of life.
When it comes to creating an image, usually I create a mental storyboard of what the image is going to look like. From the set to the props to the outfit. I tend to pay attention to my immediate surroundings and seek out locations that best tell the story I'm trying to express. Once I have that down, capturing the image becomes the easy part. As for post production, I have a custom preset which I use to colour grade and improve upon the original image. Because I've been doing this for years, it doesn't take me long to create an image. For the most part, I typically shoot, edit and post on the same day.
SB: I love that you use clothing that you own already, you turn what you have into these beautiful shots without feeling the need to purchase specific brands or highlight a new trend. It really emphasizes that your style is very much who you are every day, in and out of a shoot. How has your style developed over the years? What have been some of your style inspirations?
OM: Well thank you. I'd say my style has developed to being more about self expression as opposed to trends like you pointed out. When I first started blogging, I always wore jeans and t-shirts because it was cool and minimalist but in truth, I am no minimalist. The moment I began taking an introspective approach with my overall lifestyle, that was the moment I began to better express my sense of style.
I'd say my style inspiration is an ode to timeless pieces. Pieces I know I'd be happy to wear forever.
Onyi demonstrates the theatre of style with her Sweetheart Collection at Aynhoe Park in Oxfordshire, England.
SB: You came from Nigeria at the age of 22 to do an accounting course—my gosh how your life has changed in a mere 12 years! I left the states to move to Ireland when I was 24. I never thought it would be a permanent move and 15 years later I’m still here—raising little Irish-Americans. And it is so easy to pass by without reflection. I love your recent post about your new “Chapter 34.” Your life seems to be hurling forward with great successes. One of the values you grew up with is to stay grounded on where you are. How do you do this? I know you are journaling for a couple times a day—do you use this space for reflection and grounding? What is your philosophy about this?
OM: Yes, my adventure in the UK started at 22.
It's lovely getting to know you a little more. It's always nice to hear similar stories of other immigrants.
Thanks for checking out my blog. Yes, I was raised to stay grounded no matter where I find myself in life. This is something I'd say has helped me in my personal and professional life. I've maintained long term friendships and business relationships as a result of staying grounded.
Journaling is a great way for me to reflect. It's amazing how putting down your thoughts can put things into perspective and highlight even the most minute things to be thankful for. It's something I'd definitely recommend to anyone trying to reflect and process their thoughts. I've gotten some of my friends to pick it up and they are already attesting to its benefits.
Onyi is grounded and gorgeous at the Bury Transport Museum in Greater Manchester.
SB: Where is your family now? Where do you consider home? And is there anything you miss about Nigeria? Do you get to travel back often?
OM: My family are all back home in Nigeria. I consider both the UK and Nigeria home. The UK has given me so many firsts, and Nigeria is a place that shaped my journey.
Yes, there are many things I miss about Nigeria. The most pressing one being food. Then we have the sunshine and humour.
No. I don't get to travel back as often as I'd like. I've been back only 3 times in the space of 12 years.
SB: I read that you are from a village which must be another difference in living from a city like Manchester! I am also from a small town and now living in Dublin—and although I love being in a capital city, I must admit that when I travel abroad, I am much more attracted to smaller villages than big cities. What about you?
I was actually born and raised in the city of Abuja which is the capital of Nigeria. But in Nigeria where you're born and raised doesn't constitute your heritage but more so your tribe and it's origin. My tribe is Igbo and we emanate from the east of Nigeria, my family specifically from a village in Anambra state.
As a kid growing up, my dad did his best to take us back to the village to spend Christmas whenever it was possible. I didn't like the village as much as a kid. But there were so many things I didn't like as a kid including nature—shocker, I know! But now I'd say I prefer the countryside and nature compared to the city life any day.
Photographed by her husband Craig on a precious return trip to Nigeria
SB: In your recent post “Things will never be the same again” posted after the events around Black Lives Matter movement started in the States, you talk about having found your “why” early and your continuing dedication for self-discovery. It is beautiful. Can you talk about your “why?”
OM: I'd say my "why" or purpose if you will is to empower women especially those who are less privileged than I am. At the moment I achieve this by sharing knowledge they might find useful to better improve upon themselves.
SB: Where is on your travel bucket list? Because you identify with a style that is so consistently strong and beautiful no matter where you are, I wonder if there are places that you would like to visit that easily echo your style identity?
OM: Ooh, I'm itching to travel but more than happy to wait while things settle down. I'd love to visit Cuba, Tanzania and explore more of Italy as well as the south of France.
SB: Your husband Craig is working with you a lot on your shoots now, isn’t that right? Is it nice to work with a creative partner after having worked and started solo. What is his role in your shoots?
OM: Yes, Craig works with me and has been doing so for a while now. He's a photographer. He captures a lot of my portraits and does a good job of location scouting too.
I find it a lot easier to work with a creative partner as I'm more comfortable around him and he understands my vision which helps.
It's a labor of love for Onyi and her husband Craig. Here at the Manchester tapas bar, El Rincón de Rafa.
SB: And in saying that, many of your images you shot yourself! I know you started with a tripod and self-timer. In your trip to St. Lucia, Craig wasn’t with you. Tell us how you are able to capture such amazing self portraits alone!
OM: Shooting self portraits is actually easier than most people think once you get the hang of it. There are many ways to capture a self portrait. For me, I tend to stick with my inbuilt camera self timer and a tripod. I often look for locations that are quiet so I don't have to inconvenience others and myself. I start off with some test shots around the location before settling for one that best compliments my outfit and overall message.
SB: How do you “power off”? What is your relationship like with social media? Do you feel the need to consciously disconnect? The fact that you use a camera for all your images makes me feel you have a good balance of “digital” in your life!
OM: I tend to power off by catching up with friends and family, reading a good book, and more recently focusing on my music as I spend time in the studio. Basically, just placing more emphasis on real life and whatever is actually going on at that point in time.
I treat social media more as an outlet for self expression which places emphasis on the creative side of things.
Yes, I make an effort to limit my time on social media as best as I can. The effort definitely has been conscious as we know that social media has been designed to keep us on it for as long as possible, hence making society a little less social in reality.
I'm currently reading "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle who does a good job of highlighting the need for awareness and understanding the power of the present moment. This book is better helping understand my relationship with social media in general.
Onyi ponders and preens with her Sweetheart Spinner at the NoMad Hotel in LA.
If you aren't already following Onyi Moss, explore her beautiful photography on Instagram!
Stop by her website for even more dramatic imagery and to learn more about her generosity of spirit.
Discover More Ways to Travel Beautifully with SteamLine Luggage
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