Mary Nagakawa

Submission from Los Angeles, Student


Mary Nagakawa is a student from Rosemead, CA currently studying Graphic Communication in the central coast. Aside from studying digital media and having a hobby for digital photography, she has developed an interest in film and has shifted more towards the latter. She enjoys cooking, thrifting, exploring, and working with her school’s radio station. During summer, she plans to take a trip to Japan to reconnect to her familial culture.




We can see a lot of Los Angeles on your pictures, a lot of familiar places ;-) Are you originally from LA?

Born and raised in Rosemead :-) Those shots are from some of my favorite spots downtown!


Can you tell us more about yourself?

I currently go to school in the Central Coast. I’m a junior studying Graphic Communication focusing on web and digital media, but I have no idea what I want to do when I graduate besides that I’d like to move back to LA. I’m still in the process of exploring my passions and I’m always taking up new hobbies, but I’m in a weird place of uncertainty about everything right now. The one thing that I’ve always felt strongly about though, is photography. Since last year, I’ve been focusing more on film and I’ve been having more fun and am a lot happier with my work since I shifted away from digital. But when I’m not taking pictures or working my butt off, I also enjoy cooking, thrifting, exploring new places, and being involved in my school’s radio station.


Architecture seems to take a certain place in your roll, is that a passion of yours?

I’ve never thought of it as a passion, but hey maybe it is! Really tall and old, historic buildings are the best. If I were better at drawing, I’d probably fill sketchbooks up with all the cool buildings I see.


Based on your Family name, I imagine you have a Japanese background, how does Japanese culture influence your life if it does at all?

You’re right, I’m actually half Japanese and half Taiwanese. With my mom’s side of the family living here, Taiwanese culture just naturally played a bigger part in my life. I went to Chinese school for a bit and hated it, always wishing I had learned Japanese instead. I feel extremely disconnected from my Japanese side, especially because of the language barrier, but I’m hoping to fully immerse myself in the culture and reconnect with it when I go this summer.


In 10 years, I meet you again, where are you?

Eating lots of pasta at a restaurant in Italy. I really like pasta and have always wanted to go to Italy haha.


What is photography to you?

I’m very sentimental, so capturing memories is really important to me. Recently, I’ve also realized that photography also helps me notice and appreciate the little things around me more and encourages me to look at things differently and from multiple perspectives.


Your idea of happiness? 

Exploring a new place and treating myself to food I’ve
been craving.


Your idea of misery?

 Never petting a dog ever again.


If not yourself, who would you be?  

My ideal self doing ideal things.


Your heroes? 

My mom, all the women in my family, and those who are genuinely kind.


What is your present state of mind? 

Lost but hopeful.


Bedside table books?

The newest volume of Snotgirl by Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung (courtesy of my roomie Liz)


What do you do if you can’t sleep at night?

Go on my phone. If that doesn’t work, replaying memories in my head will usually do the trick.

Do you collect?

Yes - museum/art gallery pamphlets, used cameras, and earrings.
I’d like to start collecting “millennial pink” things and canvas totes with cool designs too.


Tea or coffee? 

So hard to choose… but coffee.


What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?

As a little kid who used to be
terrified of being called on in class, I used to think that holding my breath long enough would make me turn invisible.


A color? 



A city?

 Los Angeles, always and forever.


What are your plans for this weekend? 

Probably study for midterms at my
favorite cafe.


A song? 

Margo Guryan – Under My Umbrella


Right or left handed? 



What is the best dish you can cook? 

Bagel breakfast sandwiches.


What is your middle name? 



What do you do in your free time? 

Watch movies or videos analyzing movies and make lists of things I need to do.


What inspires you? 

Music and the way it makes me feel


What do you do for money? 

I currently work at my school’s disability resource
center and house clean for an old lady on the side.


What do you do for pleasure?

Take off my bra and pants after a long day