In order to accomplish a great feat, sacrifice is needed. Whether it’s dedicating an ample amount of time to perfect a craft or cutting certain individuals off from your inner circle, a subtraction of some sort is necessary to enhance the chances of accomplishing a mission. Shemoi Gidden did just that.
The 22-year-old Lensman departed from his comfort zone of NYC to soar with the stars in Los Angeles. Shemoi’s move may sound a bit cliché, but his rapid success is truly something to behold. In less than a year of living on the west coast, the Portland, Jamaica native has already photographed more celebs than all of the Paparazzis’ in SoHo combined! From snapping Instagram’s hottest sensations to multi-talented celebrities like Keke Palmer, Shemoi is well on his way to possibly become La-La Land’s very own version of Mario Testino.
I recently sat down with the thriving shutterbug to talk about his life in NYC, love for photography, the motivation behind his major relocation and find out exactly how he befriended all of these celebs.
FRENDY: Man, I am extremely proud of you. Your success thus far is not a big surprise to me because I saw something special in you ever since we first met at BAPE. How are you taking all of this in?
SHEMOI: Well, I’m taking it in pretty well. I’m basically speaking things into existence and then living them shortly after. If I tell myself that I’m going to be the greatest at what I do, believe it and have the drive for it, then it’s going to fall into place and eventually happen.
FRENDY: I totally agree with you. When we initially got acquainted 4 years ago, you clearly expressed your passion for taking photos. When did your love for photography actually begin?
SHEMOI: I fell in love with photography when I came across a famous photographer named 13th Witness on Instagram around 2012. I fell in love with his work because he had an uncanny method of capturing a photo in a way that it draws your attention to every detail. He inspired me so creatively and I realized that shooting photos isn't just about capturing an image, it’s about giving that image a certain character and lifestyle to it .
FRENDY: What was the first camera you started shooting with?
SHEMOI: I started off with a Canon t2i. After making some good money I ended up getting a Canon 7D. I hated that one so I saved up to buy a Canon 5d mark III. Now I shoot with a Canon 5d mark III, mark II, Sony a7s for video and the big boy himself a Canon 1dx mark II.
FRENDY: Are there any specific features you look for when purchasing a camera?
SHEMOI: Basically full frame and fps for video. You need both for everything.
FRENDY: You’re originally from Jamaica and I know how skeptical Caribbean parents can be when their child has an urge to go down the “risky” creative path. Did you receive any sort of criticism from your parents about your dream to become a professional photographer?
SHEMOI: Oh, my mom didn’t take me serious one bit! I tried my best to show her that my career choice can take me places, but she wouldn't budge. It only took for me to pack up my things, leave the house and move to state where I was completely alone for her to see that I mean business.
FRENDY: Much respect for taking that bold step. When did you move out West?
SHEMOI: I moved out on January 1st, 2017. I literally did a “new year, new me“ at the time and I only told 3 people I was leaving. My mom was included in the 3.
FRENDY: Yeah, I had no clue you left for California until I saw you consistently take new pics in a sunny, palm tree-filled setting *Laughs*. Did you have any connections in LA prior to moving there?
SHEMOI: Yeah, I felt like I went to the wrong state all my life . LA is where I should of been years ago because I wasn’t happy at all in New York to be honest. I wasn’t around people that were willing to take risk or ambitious like how I am. It was the biggest turnoff to me about NYC.
I met people in the year of 2015 that kept on telling me to move to LA until i was just like, fuck it, it won't hurt.
FRENDY: Those people were New Yorkers or Californians?
FRENDY: So since moving to New York at the tender age of 6, you felt like you didn’t belong there?
SHEMOI: Well, at the time growing up I didn’t know my worth until my high school days.
I never knew I was going to move to LA but people just said that I belonged in LA all this time because of how happy I’ve been since I moved here.
FRENDY: I’m guessing you didn’t leave any real friends behind in New York?
SHEMOI: It's not about having real friends. I had to figure myself out not just as a person, but also a businessman. I needed to make sure that I’m on the right path and if someone was my friend they would understand why I moved and look it as motivation. This world is tough and I’m all about helping people, but I can’t help people when I need to help my self. All I want in life is to be killing it and look over to the side and see my brothers killing it. And as harsh as this may sound I have to go by my word that I can't be around you if you’re not driven by anything, because that can bring me down. The last thing I want in my life is to impede my development.
FRENDY: What do you love about LA (besides the babes, of course)?
SHEMOI: Man what is there not to love about LA , opportunities is just in arms reach , it only took me a month to meet people that were already on, like really on. All it takes here is for you to just meet one person that believes in you, and wants to help you with your aspirations and dreams.
FRENDY: What sets of events occurred that allowed you to work with so many Instagram stars and celebs?
SHEMOI: I was introduced to a man named Eric Galen, who is the one guy that believed in me to start it all. He's very well connected, and a lot of his clients are the biggest influencers and celebrities I wouldn't even dream of meeting but he makes it all happen.
FRENDY: Do you remember your very first shoot in LA?
SHEMOI: Yeah man, I could never forget that! Before moving to LA I was prepping myself to shoot for Zanerobe, and I thought it was a good idea to change the scenery and go out to the desert . We brought out jeeps, drones, real katanas, etcs we did a lot that day.
FRENDY: Who is your favorite subject to shoot thus far?
SHEMOI: I don't have a favorite subject to shoot -- I think it's better to say I like to capture the lifestyle of a subject. I feel like my photos tell you a lot about the person I shoot just on the way how I center the person in the image to focus the viewer's eyes, giving the intimacy of the subject and the viewer.
FRENDY: I saw that you just came back from the first weekend of Coachella 2017. Did you go for work or leisure?
SHEMOI: Ah man! Coachella, Coachella, Coachella I look forward to that weekend for so many reasons. It's mainly for the connection aspect of it and you also get to meet some of this biggest artist that kills the game on a more personal level. Plus you get to make money depending on your profession.
FRENDY: How long are you planning on living in the City of Angels?
SHEMOI: LA is my home now, I can't see myself living in New York anymore. If you fly first class on a regular basis, would you go back to flying coach? I definitely won't!
FRENDY: Without photography, where do you think you would be in life?
SHEMOI: I'll prolly be lost! Still in school, hating life and going by the same routine for a long period.
FRENDY: What can we expect from you in the near future?
SHEMOI: It's for me to know and you to find out brother. *Laughs*