A photographer captures subjective images of nuances and dimensions seen only through the lens of her creative spirit. Shaari Heaven looks through a lens cultivated by a rich culture and an intention to serve the universe. For her first 5 years, Heaven lived in St. Maarten. Her next 5 years were spent in Jamaica, where her family was born and where the “strong” foundation for her spirit would begin. At age 10, she moved to the USA. Now at 25 and living in New York, she finds herself “stripping the layers back” to find who she really is.
“I always knew Jamaica was a part of my identity, but upon moving to the US at (an early age,) I felt like I was never Jamaican enough or never American enough. I wasn’t quite sure of where I really fit in.” Heaven spent 5 months living in London. “That was a very special trip for me,” says Heaven, “I found that all my upbringing and travels came together in London…I felt Jamaican enough for there and American enough for there. I loved it.” She also traveled to Barcelona, Spain.
“It was my first time organizing and putting together a trip that I would do on my own,” recalls Heaven. Her last day in Barcelona Square had a spiritual impact on her life. “I remember I wrote in my blog how I was watching all these couples walk by me that were seemingly so in love,” reflects Heaven. “It was my first time feeling like a whole individual, like I was loved completely. It was my first time really understanding that you get to a place where you love yourself and you love the Lord so much that you desire nothing else.” Ultimately, Jamaica has her heart. “I visited Jamaica often, but I had an opportunity to go back in 2014, and it was my first time really feeling like Jamaica was home, where my heart really lies,” reflects Heaven. Heaven’s reflection of love is the result of an abundant family life.
The “most influential relationship” in her life, family
means everything to Heaven. “Our family has really grown over time,” says Heaven. She grew up with her mother and father, Christine and Clive, her younger sister, Ayanna, her older brother, Kamal, and now welcomes her sister-in-law, Nesha, and newborn Kaleb, the light of their life. As a family, they have traveled together and although both Heaven sisters live in New York, they maintain a very close relationship with their other family members that reside in Atlanta. “Family is by far the most important thing for me. It’s what everything in life hinges upon,” says Heaven. “There is such a part of my spirit that is my family,” says Heaven. That spirit took her to New York to pursue her dream. Living by one of her tenets, Heaven became:
“Willing to Change Environment.”
I had one of those moments last June. I knew life had become a little stagnant, the alignment of my spirit was off, I was tired, stressed, generally not happy, and knew it was time for a change.
My decision to take a huge leap of faith to move to New York City was the best thing for me at that time. I made the decision then prayed, which goes against everything I had been taught on how to handle major life decisions, but somehow I felt a nudge in my spirit and I decided to respond. It taught me that sometimes the Lord wants us to make those bold decisions, to risk it all, and trust that all things do work out for good,
That “change,” agent, New York, is where Heaven operates her business, Omoba Photography.
Omoba was born at a photography workshop, where Heaven and co-owner, Anu Nartey formed their sacred partnership. Their mission: “We are two women of color. Looking at the way women are depicted and shown in the media room, we really want to provide a service for women that we would want for ourselves. Everything we do, we ultimately think, “Would I want this; how would I want to be photographed?” These are humble beginnings. “We ultimately dream of being two business owners, two wives, two mothers who use their gifts and talents to bless other women and families. We really want to make a difference in this world,” says Heaven. “If our business does not make a difference and make connections that change lives, it would be worth nothing to us.”
This undertaking is global. Heaven resides in the Bronx, NY, and Nartey is in London, England! However, they stay in constant communication, and every project is a collaborative effort. They do not plan on being stationary. By nature, they are global, ever evolving, changing. Heaven paraphrases a quote from a favorite pastor, “There are many people that are building houses who God intended to live in a tent,” and admits to surrendering to her spiritual call to keep moving. When asked how she likes modeling from time to time, Heaven responded, “I am not particularly comfortable in front of the cameras. I’d much prefer being behind the camera.”