Our Conversation With Photographer, Exquisite Eye
When did your passion for photography begin, and where did your creative vision originate from? Well I was in high school, and I started shooting for yearbook and self-portraits. My father and my grandfather are both photographers, so my dad bought me my first camera. I set it up in the house and I was like, I’m gonna shoot some self-portraits. I put them on Facebook, and my friends were like, “yo these are so dope!” And I was like, “what? I tried!” So then I just kept doing it over and over, and then I realized like, oh I really like this. I brought my self portraits to my teacher and he was like, “yeah you need to take more shots around the school!” So every day he was like “bring your camera,” so I just started bringing my camera every day. I didn’t notice that I was practicing on my craft for something that would be my life-long career.
How long was it from the moment that you first started shooting to when you feel you nailed your signature aesthetic? What was your process to develop your shooting style? I think it took me literally 5 years. When I actually realized that I discovered my aesthetic, I had a mentor at the time and I sent him a photo. I was like "hey what do you think of this?” Because I finally tried something new for the first time. Before I was always doing what people told you you’re supposed to do in photography. And then I tried something new and I sent it to him, and he was like, “nah, this sucks, this won’t really go that far, this isn't what the photography world really accepts.” And I cried and I was so sad about it, and I texted all my friends and I'm like, “yo, d ya’ll think this sucks?” And they were like, “nah this is fire!!” So then I’m like, okay maybe I should just try to keep doing this even if someone said this won’t really make it in the industry. That was in 2016, and after that, I started booking studio time, and I started shooting. After I started putting my work out, people were like, “yo, this girl is fire!” I had established a style for myself that I didn’t even notice was an aesthetic. It was just me trying something new, and I really liked it, and it felt right, and it felt comfortable. And I just kept at it, and that’s how I discovered my style and my aesthetic.
So how would you describe your shooting style in three words? Hmm, three words…I would say, one…well I don’t know if 'mood ring' would really describe it, but I feel like a mood ring would describe my work because depending on the mood would depend on what the photos are, you know? And what I get from the muse. The second word would have to be…maybe ‘dark,' because a lot of times I send it to agencies and they’re like, “yo this is pretty dark.” So moody, dark…hmm…what is another word to describe my work. It’s so hard to describe my own work because I’m my biggest critic. But , maybe ‘hot,' because I use a lot of orange and red tones, so I can make it feel like it’s very hot when people are viewing my work, you know? So moody, hot, and dark!
What do you think sets you apart from other photographers? Hmm…my aesthetic. My aesthetic and the way that I capture my muses, and you know, everything that really goes into my photos. I think it’s what sets me apart. I love grainy, I love film. I don’t actually shoot on film, I shoot on digital but I love that raw feeling that film makes me feel like, so I try to mimic that in my digital work.
What’s the biggest challenge that you face as a fully independent, entrepreneurial photographer? The business and actually being an artist, because it’ s two different things. Sometimes, I just wish I could just create, and somebody else could handle the business part but, you know, right now it’s just me so, I have to handle both. And I think that’s pretty hard because sometimes, when you’re creating you just wanna feel free, and feel like nothing’s really on your back. But when you’re handling a business, it’s gonna be something on your back that you always have to think about.
I notice that you’re always shooting with a lot of different people, including Aluna George, and you brought Bahja Rodriguez to the studio yesterday, and also you’re on your tour so your going to all these cities so, how do you establish and maintain all these industry connections? Honestly, I just be myself. I put my work out there, and these people, they notice my work before they notice me. And then once they meet with me and shoot with me, they’re like, “yo this is an experience I’ve never really had before,” and it makes them come back and they’re like, “I wanna shoot with her again.” I’m able to create real relationships and bonds with my clients. They really appreciate my work so I always want to come in and give them 100, so they wanna come back, you know?
What’s your ultimate dream shoot or subject? I have to shoot Rihanna. I would love to shoot Rihanna. I think if I shoot Rihanna, I could retire because I just love her so much and I feel like we would just really create some fire shit! Rihanna is my dream muse. Once I get her in front of my camera, it’s over, like period. I mean it wouldn’t be the last shoot, I would have to do a couple shoots with her. I wanna do some film with her, some videos, just everything Rihanna. Anything Rihanna. Rihanna is that dream person for me.
How do you plan to level up in 2018? You’re launching it with your tour, but have you mapped out your year as far as how you want to elevate your work and your career? Yes, I have so many surprises for the end of the year, so you guys just really have to stay up to date with me on Instagram, and Twitter, and Snapchat, and on my website because at the end of the year I have some dope stuff that I think a lot of my supporters will really be thankful for and be like, “yes, it was time, we were waiting for this.” So, I have some things up my sleeve but I just can't reveal too much you know?
What advice would you give to any aspiring photographers who are just starting out, especially something that nobody ever told you? Stay true to yourself and finding yourself. Because when I first got into the game, it’s a male-dominated field and so many men were telling me what I couldn’t do and how I’m supposed to do stuff. I was like no; once I found myself, and I stayed true to myself, everything falls into place because it feels right. I feel like maybe like a women’s intuition, you know, just trusting your gut and knowing, you know what this feels right, I’m doing it. I think that should apply to everyone, just trust your gut. Even if you gotta second question it and it may not seem right at the moment, just do it. Because something along the lines, in due time, will happen, and you’ll be like, “oh that’s why I had that feeling.” So stay true to yourself, and follow your gut.