Meet Natasha Herbert

While some attend schools to learn a trade, others have a keen, natural ability to do it. The latter describes artists who are born with intrinsic talent, which defines Natasha Lehuanani Herbert. Her young life spent honing her skills in drawing, as an escape from a troubled childhood in the inner city of Cleveland, progressed into a passion for creation. The need to actualize her artistic desires led her to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Digital Media from Michigan State University. Upon launching her professional photography career, she realized a plethora of awe-inspiring wedding, portrait and street work. Herbert’s wedding portraits have been featured in numerous highly recognized publications like Essence, Huffington Post, and Glamour Magazine.

In 2022, she was recognized with the Allen E. Cole Excellence in Photojournalism award from the Western Reserve Historical Society. Herbert has always used photography as an outlet to relieve the stresses of her environment. In doing so, she’s achieved much success and wishes to foster and give back to youth growing up in the same circumstances that she endured. Herbert’s desire is to inspire inner-city youth in Cleveland, by creating a hands-on photography program. This program will be an outlet that provides an enriching experience for youth to learn a new, marketable skill and adopt a positive, creative hobby.

Creative Impact Fund Project: The Avenue Cleveland

Natasha Herbert will instruct and lead a photography program which will have a strong emphasis on the technical use of a DSLR camera. She will teach the youth participants how to use their eye to connect emotionally and drive them to produce images that speak and evoke some sort of response from the viewer. The program will challenge their creativity while simultaneously teaching them all of the processes of photography. For example, finding inspiration from movies by using the Rule of Thirds method, learning how to correctly use light, composing their shots, and having the capability to change their settings based on the environment. By the end of the program, the youth will have gained a definite understanding of capturing moments.

In addition, at the end of the program, the youth will have to take photos that are emotionally driven. The challenge is to take photos that are candid and evoke some sort of response from the audience. They will get their inspirations from every day life and movie scenes. At the end of The Avenue program, the photos will be printed/matted on 13 x 19 format paper, and they will have a photography exhibition to showcase their captures. Herbert plans to go to the regions of the area she feels need it most like East Cleveland, where she currently teaches at Kenneth Clement Boys’ Leadership Academy. Pamphlets will be handed to the schools and or youth facilities like recreation centers with the photography program description.

Furthermore, Kenneth Clement Boys Leadership Academy intends to create an after school program for students in school or a week day program at the recreation centers. The project in itself is very close to home for Natasha Herbert because she grew up in the Kinsman neighborhood, which was often plagued with violence and no opportunities available to youth. She wants to show youth that there’s more out here. The goal is to encourage youth to seek and obtain success despite their environmental factors. Herbert already has extensive experience teaching 4 grade – 8th grade children about photography. She works with 15 students at the Kenneth Clement Boys Leadership Academy. Furthermore, Herbert independently invests in and provides all current supplies and materials, i.e. cameras, lens, and lighting, for the classes that she teaches. The Avenue Cleveland Photography program will provide an explorative art and most importantly bring light to the youth in these communities that lack resources.