Dollar and a Dream

This small photo project is the most conceptual of my work thus far. I wanted to make a bold statement with imagery and symbolism through photography. This tactic highlights the viewer perception rather than focusing on photographic skill and technique.

Although I did intentional employ harsh use of shadows and color correction, I think the photographic skills are important but not the focus. I wanted to make this project as abstract as possible. With an unidentified hand, building, and setting there is so much mystery left for the viewer to diagnose. The objects and the actions are what become the focal point. Treating our currency like trash is harsh but it also makes a valuable statement. We must ask, what is the real value of a dollar? What is implied is that the dollar is relative.

I was inspired by Tyler Shields, a revolutionary and controversial photographer who has done projects with a topless, meat-eating Mischa Barton; a bloody, knife-wielding Lindsay Lohan; and sweet Heather Morris of “Glee” all tied up in a rather domestic abuse-y setting.

His courageous and bold burning of an expensive handbag gives a similar effect that I feel I have created below. We give value to items, from living in society. Everything that is made has relative value. By setting an expensive bag, and even more directly a dollar bill on fire, it automatically puts value into question.

 

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Nola

I dream of being a travel photographer some day. So, it was only natural that on my first trip to New Orleans, Louisianan (the furthest I’ve been from home) for me to take as many pictures as possible. I loved taking in the historical and vibrant surroundings that make “Nola” what she is today.

Over spring break, I got to explore the streets and I made sue to take several pictures with several different cameras. These particular photos were also take with a Konica T-reflex on color 35 mm film. I was hesitant to carry the heavy thing around because I was not all to sure how the lighting would fare.

When I saw the developed film I was so satisfied. I was able to create this mini collection of my adventures enjoying the city. Although the human subjects of these photos are never quite direct or even present I think that it adds to the mystery of the old city.

I was inspired by New Orleans native, Chandra McCormick, who has dedicated a large portion of her work to capturing the essence of New Orleans before the tragedy of hurricane Katrina hit. Often times, the city is only seen as a devastated ground full of destruction. But Nola is more than that and I’m glad I got to see it through my lens.

My kind of throw back

When people ask me what kinds of pictures I like to take, I become boggled. I’m a die- hard photographer and I love taking all kinds of pictures. To ask what I take pictures of is to ask painter what colors does he use?

I wanted this project to be a testament to the range of photography I enjoy. These photos were take with a Konica T 35mm film vintage camera. Yes, I still use film. No, I am not a hipster.

I am fascinated by the history and progression on photography and film as a whole. Therefore, I experiment with as many forms of the medium as possible. To really love a craft is to love all sides of it right?

I was inspired by photographer and blogger Steve Coleman, who is also an advocate of good old fashioned film. He takes the unique approach is doing nature photography that is somewhat abstract. He does not focus on clarity and composition, but the feeling he would like to emulate.

This type of photography really is a hit or miss. You only know what the shot looks like after developing them, which can be days or even weeks later. Overall, I am so please with this collection of my most recent nature film stills.

For Every Barbie

Everyday, we are bombarded with images, and subliminal messages from all kinds of media. Black women lack representation within many of these fields. Many people forget how much weight visual representation can hold. This intake of media to interpret the world begins when we are born. Product and brand loyalty begins as a child. For me, it began with dolls.

Now that my days of imagining with dolls are over I understand why my mother made sure I had dolls that looked like me. Or at least as close as she could find, because the options were, and still are limited.

With the surge of diverse dolls entering the market, I wanted to create this piece as a celebration, but also as a reminder. We, as black women are forcing our way into spaces that have been dominated by white faces for decades. These photos are symbolic of that shift. A shift that is slow and necessary.

When I am taking pictures I can envision a final product. These photos are the final product of an idea stemming from a nostalgic memory. With photography I am able to express the memories and feeling of my life which helps me to vent and be emotional healthy.I also got to express a view that is close to my heart. By taking photographs I am given the opportunity to be understood. This feeling is unmatched. To create, and to have someone empathize with me is my therapy.

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Thick Skin

If you know me, you know I love and respect black men. This project is dedicated to all of them. Those who are currently in my life and those who will enter in the future. For this project I simply asked; “What feelings or negative ideas has society placed on you as a black man? Also, what do you crave and need that would counter these negative emotions? These things are not hidden. These derogatory terms are blatant and common.

The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men. 2. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. Why is this? Because the American law enforcement system has targeted them like no other race. Black men represent and unproportionate number of prisoners in our country.

This project was inspired by the storytelling and photography campaign called dear world. This program helps to tell inspiring stories of everyday people. They capture the essence of each individual with words on their body. I wanted to take the power of this format and simplify the subject wearing the words so that they stood out and told the story of a collective people.

There is no hiding the stereotypes. It is written all over their bodies and infused into the skin they cannot hide. But, that’s just it. It is only skin deep. The experience of a black man in America is incredibly unique. As a black woman, I understand how crucial my role is to provide what is needed. Trust, joy, beauty, a family and a sense of home. I feel responsible and even eager to do so. Whether it be as a mother, a sister, a lover, or just a friend, I help to create resilience and thick skin.

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Straight Ahead

For this collection of photos I wanted to take a juxtaposed approach to my previous post. In the lat series I took the challenge to avoid capturing the facial expressions of my subjects. I focused more so on capturing their surroundings and body language of others to tell the complete story.

The pictures below are all portraits of people looking head-on. I think they each have a different cadence. I wanted to make sure they were comfortable before shooting so I sat down with each of them before starting the shoot. Some of the photos I was commissioned to take and others I asked to take of them.

My strategy was to remain shooting in manual throughout each shoot. I feel that this gives me the ultimate amount of control and forces me to learn my camera much quicker. I had to find new ways create light and not rely on the usual flash.

I was inspired by photographer, mentor and friend Daniel Schaefer. His style embodies the ultimate use of surrounding light and simple editing. He manages to take what is in the atmosphere and tell the story of the person in his photo. They come across as almost effortless, and that is exactly how I want this portrait series to feel.

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I can see how you feel…

Photography lends itself to many forms. It is a realm of self expression for hobbyists as well as the livelihood of so many professionals. For myself, it is somewhere in between a long lost love, a new found released, and a future career.

I decided to begin this blog experiment with a collection of photos taken at a poetry slam over the weekend. I wanted to capture the emotions of my subjects or their state of mind. The challenge was to do so without reveling their face or only reveling it partially. This seems to be almost a backwards approach to photography. However, I see it as the ultimate challenge. Many photographers focus in on facial expressions to tell the story in each scene. With this method I had to rely on timing and a small amount of luck to get something that would convey a strong enough emotion.

I feel this experiment was success. I love that I was able to find such willing participants for one. Another challenge I ran into was the editing to make them seem more adhesive as a group. I want to present each post as an individual body of work that can be merged over time to tell what my skill set can really do.

I was inspired by photographer Mikael Theimer‘s project that captured his camera shy girlfriend in several scenes. She never let him take a photo of her face but he still always managed to show how she felt. This skill is crucial if you are to be a photojournalist. I know I will not always be in to most opportune position to get a person to look at me during an event. But I still want to be able to convey the message that I need to.

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