BLOG

Category

Currently showing posts tagged Photography

  • Andre's Way

    A stable nine to five does wonders for the psyche due to the fact that it prevents constant worries about unnecessary hassles, such as accumulated, unpaid bills or lack of money for transportation and shelter. However, for wild-hearted artists, a regular corporate gig may be a hindrance preventing them from living life at maximum potential.  Andre L. Perry is an extremely valiant soul who ditched a lucrative career in the digital advertising field to pursue his passion as a lifestyle photographer.

    I met Andre at BAPE three years ago, and at first sight, I thought he was a stylist or worked in the entertainment industry in some way. I eventually found out that his occupation was quite the contrary to my calculation.  The suave lad with the cooler-than-thou swag and I kept in touch through Instagram, where I rapidly witnessed his lightspeed growth as a photog—pardon me, a connoisseur in visually capturing “vibes”—particularly of the millennial African-American community.

    I recently sat down with the prosperous lensman to converse about his corporate past, drastic career change and life as an entrepreneur. Check out our dialogue below:

    FRENDY:  When we initially met you worked for Complex, right?

    ANDRE:  I think when we first met I was working for Nylon magazine. I was working in Ad Operations which has nothing to do with what I’m currently doing now. Ad Operations deals with ads you see on a publisher’s website.  The ads you usually see on a publisher's page, I was responsible for managing that. I was responsible for making it appear to the right audience, making sure it clicks through the correct website, making sure that the wording was correct, ect.  There’s a lot of analytics involved, tons of reporting.  I was in excel all day, everyday—again nothing creative, nothing to do with what I’m doing now.

    FRENDY:  Oh ok, what were you doing over at Complex?

    ANDRE:  Same thing.  Ad Operations.

    FRENDY:  Why did you decide to move from Complex to Nylon?

    ANDRE:  I got fired. *Laughs*

    FRENDY:  *Laughs* Damn, what happened over there?

    ANDRE:  I knew Ad Operations was not my thing, and at the time, that was the only craft I was good at—I really didn’t care for it though. As a result, I wasn’t going above and beyond, or producing at the same level as when I first got hired at all of these jobs with the same position.  The only reason why I kind of stayed in the field for such a long time was because it paid well.

    FRENDY:  How long did you stay at Complex?

    ANDRE:  Almost a year.

    FRENDY:  That was your first job out of college?

    ANDRE:  No, so my first “real” job out of college was YellowPages.com.   That was when I was living in Atlanta. It was more of a digital sales position—I stayed in the digital world just because I was accustomed to it.

    FRENDY:  What did you actually major in college? 

    ANDRE:  I went to the Art Institute of Philadelphia and my first major was actually photography.  I was pretty much my professor’s muse, but after my second semester I bailed on the subject because I wasn’t shooting what I wanted to shoot. It was moreso technical than creative, so I had to really make a decision about what I was going to study for the rest of my college career.  I just decided to go into marketing since I had somewhat of an interest in it.

    FRENDY:  You’re fully invested in photography right now so it just goes to show how life comes full circle.  When did you realize in Nylon that Ad Operations was no longer something you wanted to do?

    ANDRE:  I actually got fired from there as well.  Working at Nylon reignited my interest in photography. I knew I wasn’t going to stay there for long, so I took advantage of the situation and started to express my passion for photography.  I informed people at the job that I was capable of shooting.

    I had an idea for featuring the raincoat company Stutterheim on Nylon Guys (which was ran by only just one person).  So I reached out to them, got a couple of coats and models to shoot. I told the person that ran NYLON Guys and got the ok for the spread.  At the end of the day, we were trying to push Nylon Guys but Nylon was trying to discontinue the section because it wasn’t making any money.  It was also around the time when Nylon was transitioning to a different webhost.  Nylon Guys was running from a different host from Nylon.com, so it was almost like they were running as two different businesses which didn’t make sense.  When Nylon.com relaunched, Nylon Guys wasn’t a part of it.

     FRENDY:  Crazy.  Let’s take it back for a bit.  Where did you grow up?

    ANDRE:  Philadelphia and South Jersey.  I was born and raised in West Philly, moved to South Jersey around Junior high school, and then spent most of my young adult life back in Philly.

    FRENDY:  How was it like growing up in Philly?

    ANDRE:  Philly at the time was very hood fab.  This was the era of Kim, Biggie, Diddy and Mase--everything was about being flashy, fly and living a music video lifestyle. I didn’t have much friends, I just always knew there was more to life.  I knew if I stayed in Philly I would of been stuck.

    FRENDY:  When did you move to Atlanta?

    ANDRE: After I graduated college in 2006, I moved to Atlanta and lived there for about four years. To be honest, I had no idea what I was going to do there.  Technically, my first job was working for Sprint in ATL right after college because I simply needed money to live.  After that, I worked for other cellphone companies (including Helio) then worked for the Yellow Pages.

    FRENDY:  What was your working title at those cell companies?

    ANDRE:  Just selling phones.  Nothing creative or fab.

    FRENDY:  How did you go from selling mobile phones to YellowPages.com?

    ANDRE:  They simply had an opening in their online advertising department and I needed money.  Back then, there was no company I felt compelled to work for—I just needed to survive. I stayed with them for two years then moved to New York.

    I still didn’t know what I really wanted to do when I moved here, so I started working at Zara. I was doing the visuals for their store windows. I just knew somebody on Facebook who referred me to work there.

    FRENDY:  Did you enjoy working at Zara?

    ANDRE:  I didn’t like the job because it really didn’t leave room for creativity.  The higher ups were very specific in how they wanted their mannequins dressed, and I just realised that I didn’t care so much about the details that goes into dressing them. A piece of clothing could be off by a quarter inch and usually there would be an entire two-hour discussion about it. I stayed there for about eight months and then got fired.   After that situation, I went to selling digital ads for CBS Radio.

    FRENDY:  Wait a minute.  You studied marketing in college, how were you getting all of these advertising gigs?

    ANDRE:  There’s not necessarily a trade that needs to be studied for selling ads because at the end of the day it’s just sales.

    FRENDY:  There are tons of unemployed people out there, you’re telling me they have a good chance of getting work in that particular field?

    ANDRE:  Well, it’s not that easy.  Fortunately, my resume is filled with previous sales jobs. Some of them didn’t necessarily involve selling online ads, but there was a quota I had to meet each month. When I went to these job interviews I sold myself on how I met the quotas and how I overcame certain challenges.

    FRENDY:  When did you decide to pick up the camera again? Was it during your time at Nylon?

    ANDRE:  I actually decided to pick up the camera again while working for Complex in 2014.

    FRENDY:  What inspired you to do so?

    ANDRE:  It’s a funny story. I’ve always been an android user, and when Instagram came to androids I made a conscious decision to not just post selfies. As everyone knows androids take better pictures than Iphones, so I would always take these dope pics on my phone and post them on the app.  Then, my friends who happen to be bloggers reached out and inquired about the camera I shot with, I said I just used my phone.  Since I didn’t own a camera, they said they would provide me with one to shoot them and I agreed. They provided me with a Canon T3I.  The pictures from that shoot came out great and shortly after I picked up my very first camera (Canon T3i).

    FRENDY:  After the shoot were you compelled to take photography seriously?

    ANDRE:   Well, I didn’t know I was going to make a career out of it.   I just knew that I liked it at that time.  It was like a drug in a sense where I instantly felt happy when I started shooting, and I wanted to continue it. 

    The Four Pins blog actually inspired me to start capturing street style, so I would always hang out in SOHO (which is where we met) to capture cool and stylish people.  I was gradually getting deeper into photography during my Nylon days.

    FRENDY:  Where were you posting all of your street style photos?

    ANDRE:  Just on my Tumblr and Instagram.

    FRENDY:  Let’s fast forward a bit.  What were you doing after you got fired from Nylon?

    ANDRE:  I was looking for work. I eventually got hired at BET for Ad Operations and stayed there for just a year.  I actually quit that job and the reason I did so was because I established a good relationship with my boss Nicole Cosby (we were brought on around the same time).  When she announced that she was quitting, I decided to do the same. 

    She played a real important role in aiding me to be where I am today. The reason why we left is because BET didn’t have their sh*t together.  We really were rooting for them, but internally it didn’t make sense to be there and invest so much energy in trying to change things around when the company is stuck in their ways.  As much as my boss tried, nothing happened.

    After BET, I went over to SpinMedia which consists of Spin Magazine, Vibe magazine etc.  Again same job in Ad Operations, but this time around I was also assigned as a media planner. I didn’t have that much experience in that field and it became overwhelming.  A media planner makes up a plan for a brand’s exposure online, then the plan is sent to a salesperson who pitches it to the company. The salesperson and company would negotiate what the plan would actually be and then it comes back to me to execute. Unfortunately, At SpinMedia I was not only in ad operations but also had the responsibility of coming up with the media plan and executing it.

    In SpinMedia’s culture it was normal, but not necessarily normal in other companies.  I wasn’t fully aware of that when I signed up for the job. It was just too much and I left the company after six months.

    FRENDY:   So when did you decide to take on photography fully? Of course, I understand that you had to survive which is why you worked all of these jobs, but what made you consciously turn it up a notch as a shooter?

    ANDRE:  The good thing about all my jobs was that they all paid great. I had about $30,000 saved in my banking account while I was working at SpinMedia.  I was 33 and then, you know, as a human being we all compare ourselves to how others are living.  I thought I wasn’t living my best life, I wasn’t living my purpose. Photography was my only passion that lasted this long.  There were so much things I thought I loved doing, but over a period of time those passions faded away.  One of my goals before moving to New york was to work for Complex and BET because I always thought it would be cool to work at those companies. When those dreams materialized I was totally disappointed.  But with photography, my high expectations were just like  how thought they would be.

    I remember getting out of work on January 14, 2016 and literally crying all the way from the train station to my home because I was fed up with not living my purpose.  Since I had money saved I sent out an email saying, "Effective Immediately: I am quitting this job."

    FRENDY:  Wow! Good for you. What did you after quitting SpinMedia?

    ANDRE:  Within 2 weeks after I sent the email I moved to Brazil for about a month. I went over there to relax a bit and take pictures.

    FRENDY:  Many people who are reading this interview may be thinking, “why is he crying?  This dude has a great job, he has money in the bank. What’s there to be sad about?” What do you have to say in response to that?

    ANDRE:  Well, at the time I wasn’t traveling.  You’re always going to want to accomplish more goals after achieving the ones you already set for yourself.  If you have $100,000 in the bank, you’re going to want $200,000. An artist can have the biggest record of the year, they’re going to want an even bigger record the following year. Every goal I set for myself was fulfilling at that time, but then I always needed more.  And as I said before, my passion for photography is endless, so I had to pursue a craft that actually gave me joy rather than financial security.

    FRENDY:  What did you do after your Brazil Trip?  Did you move back to New York?

    ANDRE:  Before quitting SpinMedia, I reached out to travel a company that documented group trips called, Travel Noire. They wanted me to shoot in Morocco for a long period of time, unfortunately I just started the job at SpinMedia so I couldn’t take the time off.  While I was in Brazil I hit Travel Noire again since I was free and they booked me.  That was my first official photography job during April of 2016.

    FRENDY:  How long were you shooting for Travel Noir?

    ANDRE:  It was all project based,I shot about 3 trips for them. Two in Brazil and one in Italy.  I did my first trip at Travel Noire back in April of 2016, then when I came back to New York I had nothing.  So in between assignments for the company I was still figuring out what I was going to do for consistent pay. That’s when Nicole Cosby (my former boss at BET) came back in the picture.

    When I was over at BET, one of the things I did was share my photography with everyone. I also did that at SpinMedia. Basically, I made sure to let everyone know that I had interest in becoming a photographer at my latest corporate jobs.  Nicole knew that I wanted to become one, so she referred me to RushCard, Russell Simmons’ pre-paid debit card company, since they were looking for photographers. They became my very first major client.  That all happened in June of 2017.

    FRENDY:  Was it unexpected for you to get the gig?

    ANDRE:  There was a lot of things that went into getting the job. It was an easy sell for them, but it wasn’t necessarily easy where I just had a camera and was at the right place at the right time.  The style of photography that I do is very niche—It’s commercial lifestyle advertising. What I capture is real life moments of real people.  I decided to do that early on because there’s not a lot of black photographers who showcase lifestyle images. I made sure whatever photos I decided to take from that point on would reflect the brands I would want to work for.

    When I was shooting for Travel Noir I decided to take on a passion project by creating a coffee table book called, “Happy Black People.” So fast forward to my meeting with RushCard, once Nicole made the connection, I already had a portfolio that represented what the company was looking for. 

    FRENDY: It’s all about taking initiative, and not waiting for any particular lucky situation to get a gig.

    ANDRE:  Yes, exactly!  One thing that has made me successful is the passion that I have for photography. There’s not a lot of people that would want to make a photobook simply for the love of it.  I didn’t do it to make money, I just created it to share my work. I love showing my photos to people.

    FRENDY:  When did your love for photography actually begin? I know you partly studied it in college, but what sparked your interest in shooting?

    ANDRE:  *Laughs* It started with the movie, Love Jones. The movie was all about the renaissance black man and I just fell in love with that idea.  Even though Nia Long played the photographer role, that’s what actually sparked my interest in photography.

    FRENDY:  What was it about the movie that specifically triggered your interest in photography?  I’m sure you were aware of other photographers prior.

    ANDRE:  I didn’t know anything about photography at that time. It was just the idea. This was also during the era that neo-soul was very big, and you know me being in Philly, it was really big there. There was a particular section of neo-soul that sort of had the photography vibe, so it just elevated my love for it.

    Whatever someone’s passion is, you kind of like have to go back to where it all sparked and realize it just came from this small source of inspo. And then it just snowballs into this bigger thing.

    FRENDY: True love always comes back when you set it free.  Obviously, your love for photography was deep inside of you, but you had to go through the “valley of death,” so to speak, to experience the opposite of your passion just to realize your true purpose.

    ANDRE:  Yup!

    FRENDY:  How do you go about getting clients as a photographer?

    ANDRE:  There’s really no one way of getting them. If you’re a freelancer, you’ll have to rely on your personality.  That’s one thing that I discovered. I’m an introvert at heart, I don’t necessarily like reaching out to people for business so I really have to depend on personal relationships.  If you’re passionate about something, people will be aware.  For example, you’re a writer, that’s pretty much what people are going to instinctively know about you because you are consistently providing new reading content. So if photography is a person’s passion, their name should be easily associated with the craft.  That’s where the opportunities lies.

    When it comes to photography most people only think of fashion, celebrity and documentary styles.  But there are a lot more avenues in the field that generate tons of money they aren’t aware of.  There’s architectural photography, sports photography, and many more.  So a person that is interest in shooting pics for a living should study markets that aren’t necessarily popularized.

    It’s also good for an aspiring photographer to study the companies they would want to work for and get familiar with their imagery. For example, Condé Nast has a very specific way of shooting the men who are featured in their publications.

    FRENDY:  Who have you worked with so far?

    ANDRE:  Right now, my main client is RushCard.  Since I signed a contract with them, I’ve been blessed with tons of work.  I shoot for them about 4 to 5 times a month.

    FRENDY:  How do you go about booking the models you work with? Through an agency?

    ANDRE:  Yup, I use an agency called Instagram *Laughs*.  I use a lot of the same models over and over again, but they also refer me to more. I’m at a point where when I reach out to a model, they either have heard of me already or they simply reach out first.  It’s all about word of mouth and social media for me.

     

    FRENDY:  What’s your daily routine in regards to work?

    ANDRE:  Whenever I have an idea, I would share it with my main point of contact at RushCard and they would either say yes or no--most of the time they agree with it.  Prior to presenting the idea, I put together a moodboard so the company could see what I envisioned. Once they agree, I reach out to the models and scout locations for shooting.

    FRENDY:  Are you working on anything else other than RushCard projects?

    ANDRE:  Well, I’m working on re-doing my contract with them for 2018, with a pay increase.  I’m super happy about that. To be honest, I’m working on building a business, build up my portfolio and save a lot of money.  Next year I plan on getting an employee and renting a studio where I can live and work.

    FRENDY:  Did you ever think you would be this successful in your career of choice?

    ANDRE:  Hell no!  I never knew that I could actually work for myself and do what I love. It really wasn’t how I was raised, it was just about making money, that’s it.

    FRENDY:  Do you have any advice for artist who are trying to make it in their desired field of work?

    ANDRE:  If your passion keeps you up at night then there’s no other choice but to make the first step to complete your goal. Don’t ever be too “realistic” because it can deter you from doing what you love.

    Photographs by: Andre L Perry

  • The Silent Shooter

    Timothy Smith is a man of few words, but he has a sh*t load of captivating flicks to make up for it. Like most of my creative comrades, the Brooklyn bred lensman and I met at BAPE NYC - where we hardly spoke, yet had great mutual respect for each other.

    I haven’t seen Timothy in about five years, so it was a pleasant surprise when he followed me on Instagram last month.  What shocked me even further were the glorious editorial shots featured on his feed, which he photographed himself. I am not in any way, shape or form attempting to downplay Tim’s artistic prowess, but I was Stacey Dash clueless about his exceptional photography skills.  As I mentioned earlier, we never had a conversation that lasted more than one minute - let alone discussed his interest in the visual arts.

    This Original Stories series has provided me with the perfect opportunity to have a sitdown with the silent shooter to find out more about his background, passion for picture taking and path to success in the photography industry. Check out our dialogue below:

    FRENDY:  It’s a pleasure to finally have a thorough convo with you after all these years *Laughs*. Why didn’t you tell me about your love for photography back in my early BAPE days?

    TIM:  I was in my early stages, still insecure about my work. Not very confident in showing my work to others, and also still finding my voice. Like, all of my early work was of cats, street style, carts, landscapes *Laughs*. I was all over the place.

    FRENDY:  I respect that, you’re excused *Laughs*. Where were you raised in Brooklyn?

    TIM:  I grew up in the East Flatbush/Brownsville area. At the age of 11/12, my grandparents lost our house so I moved over to Queens to live with relatives for a while. When I first moved to Queens I stayed in Ozone park in my great uncle’s basement, then bounced around from Laurelton to South Ozone Park, then eventually landed back in Brooklyn.

    FRENDY:  Crazy.  I lived in East Flatbush for most of my life as well.  Which schools did you attend growing up in Brooklyn and Queens?

    TIM:  Yeah, it’s funny, you used to actually go to the gym with one of my best friends from childhood over in the BRC I think? I know you guys used to work out together, but I can’t remember where. Well, I will say this, I was fortunate enough to go to “good” schools. I attended Saint Catherine of Genoa in Brooklyn, then I finished my 8th grade year in Saint Teresa in Queens. For high school, I attended Christ the King over in Middle Village.

    FRENDY:  Damn, it’s really a small world. Ok nice, those are definitely great schools to attend.  Were you always into photography growing up?

    TIM:  *Laughs* Yeah, real small world. My grandparents made it a priority to send me to catholic schools because they believed it was much safer and a better education. I remember not having any lights or heat because my grandparents would have to pay 4 months of back owed tuition, because they truly believed I could do something when I got older.

    Funny thing is I always wanted to be a photographer because of Spider-Man! I used to think Peter Parker was f*cking amazing. I used to get all my Spider-Man toys and create “movies” with cereal boxes as video cameras *Laughs*. Cornflakes boxes to be exact!  It wasn’t until my grandmother passed that I really thought about taking photography seriously. I literally spent my student refund check in 2012/2013 to buy a canon 7D, to actually shoot short films, and record myself reviewing video games.

    One day I took a photo and all of the feels of being Spider-Man came back to me all at once. So I decided to sell my car to fund my photography addiction, I took an internship back home the summer before I graduated at Management Artist in Chelsea. It was legit the best experience of my life being around all that amazing photo work, it trained my eye very quickly to distinguish good photography from bad photography. It was an amazing summer, I slept on a living floor the entire time and enjoyed everyday of it!  

    FRENDY:  Which college did you attend after Christ The King?

    TIM:  I attended Saint John's University for one semester, then got kicked out because they didn’t believe my financial situation, regarding to financial aid. So pretty much even with a partial scholarship I couldn’t afford it. Then I took some time off and went to Nassau. After a while, I decided I had to leave because if not I would have gotten in so much trouble and other dumb shit.

    So then I went to a small HBCU in North Carolina: ECSU and got my Bachelors. After getting my degree, I came back to Canarsie because my mom ended up getting breast cancer and I wanted to help out the best way I can, and to build a relationship between us. After that, I finally got home and applied to grad school for photography and ended up attending School of Visual Arts in NYC.

    FRENDY:  Wow. First off, is your mom alright now?  Also, what kind of trouble would you have gotten yourself into at Nassau? I don’t see you as a troublemaker.

    TIM:  Oh yeah, she’s fine now! Thanks for asking. Not really me getting in trouble at Nassau, it was more so I was still hanging around all my friends that always did dumb sh*t. Like I’ve never been a tough guy or whatever, but I’m also a very loyal friend, plus my house was always the hub for all my friends. So I just remember one day playing call of duty and looking around at what my friends we’re doing and was like “bro, I gotta go.” It’s all good though, they always said I shouldn't be about that ‘life’ and they respected my decision.

    I would like to give a special thanks to one of my best friends/brother, Fred because when he saw I was serious about photography he gave me a f*cking brand new 5D mark II with flashes and lenses. Like, that's the type of bond me and my friends have - I'm still trying to figure out a good gift for him *Laughs*.

    FRENDY:  That’s the definition of true friendship right there. Were you studying photography when you were schooling in NC? Or you started taking photography classes while attending SVA in the city?

    TIM:  SVA.  I did a broadcasting class in NC and tried to get funding for a short film, but it never worked out *Laughs*. I did have three extremely amazing teachers; Professor Bright, Professor Washington, and Latoya Monique. They definitely helped me shape my creative vision by giving me the freedom to experiment as much as possible.

    FRENDY:  How’d you enjoy SVA?  What did you do after receiving your Master’s in Photography there?

    TIM:  SVA was cool, I made some really good friends there. If I had to be honest, you don't really need school in order to become a photographer. I learned so much in my first year of freelance, and assisting.  So right after getting my Master’s I assisted some amazing photographers like; Bon Duke & Yulia Gorbachenko. I still help Yulia out from time to time, but more the most part I’m completely freelance.

    FRENDY:  Yeah, one of my great friends, Erick Hercules, is doing his thing without any schooling. Hard work, of course, is the cause of his success in the photography field.  So you said you’re a freelancer, how did you get connected prestigious publications like Vogue Italia, WWD, Vulkan Magazine etc.?

    TIM:  Yeah, hard work and networking is the key to photography now - especially with social media being so important. Yeah completely freelance, so I pretty much do all of the leg work with getting jobs etc. Although I finally have an agent, and she has been awesome so far. She actually has been more of a therapist if anything so far *Laughs*.

    Let's tackle magazines first.  Every magazine I shot for, so far, I’ve been denied about 100 times when I first started.  I had to constantly practice and figure out my vision. Then finally after harassing everyone I finally got through, and now magazines would reach out to me for work. That’s how I’ve been able to shoot celebrities, etc. The best word a photographer can hear is “no,” because it drives you to get better and it lets you know that there is still room to grow.

    So yeah, once you get your vision and your skills up, people will gravitate towards you for your style which is very important.

    FRENDY:  Yes, an artist’s style, no matter what field they’re in, has to be unique to stand out. I’ve heard “nos” all my life, which is why I’m doing my own thing in the writing world. I’m blessed enough to have met some great people along the way who are helping me materialize my vision.  All we can do is be kind to ourselves and move forward with grace.

    TIM: Exactly and you’re doing fucking amazing right now, like legit you’re killing it!  I would also say one more thing: I encourage people to surround themselves with good energy and like-minded individualds. Like, for example, my queen Dominique Drakeford (melaninass.com) is hands down my best friend ever, she supports my visions, goals etc, and we can always just sit back and talk about dope sh*t.

    My friend from college and artist Malcolm Rolling (www.725studios.com) was the one who actually trained me to think like an artist, and encouraged me to be one. We would legit not go to parties and sit in the room and study light and catch up on art history - that sh*t was amazing and very pivotal to how I think now. My brother Jameel Murray who taught me how to endure the journey and to realize that no hard work goes unrewarded. (Fun Fact: before his mom passed away, we were months away from being legal brothers by adoption.)

    FRENDY:  Thanks my man, I really appreciate the kind words. Who’s your favorite celebrity to shoot?

    TIM:  Oh man, thats a funny question *Laughs*. So everyone offered a unique experience: YG took me by surprise because of how down to earth he was - still hella gangsta though. Omari Hardwick has become a mentor/big brother figure to me, we still talk to this day. Mack Wilds and I spoke about f*cking Street Fighter, he legit has an Akuma tattoo *Laughs*. Bobby Brackins was super chill, and Marianne Mirage was super fun with great energy. Oh Yeah, Ozuna was also cool, even though he had like an intense security squad.

    FRENDY:  Do you ever get starstruck?

    TIM: Beforehand sometimes, but never on set because my job is to connect with them and bring out the best emotion possible for the image. They are used to everyone treating them a certain way because they are famous - most of them actually just want to have a regular convo with regular human connection.

    FRENDY:  Makes sense, for sure.  How often are you shooting for publications?

    TIM:  Around three to four times a month.  Honestly, as a professional photographer you spend more time out reaching and securing clients than shooting. Compared to everything else I have to do, shooting only takes up 20%.

    FRENDY:  Are you particular about shooting on location? What do you look for in a setting?

    TIM: I do actually prefer shooting on location, only because it keeps budgets lower for certain clients. The studio gives you maximum control over everything. I think to be successful you do need to be well versed in both.

    FRENDY:  What are you currently working on Photography wise?

    TIM: I’m trying to secure a few campaign and lookbook jobs, also thinking about doing a photo project based on people in brooklyn.  I’m working out the details, but I'm looking for funding for that because I want to have an exhibition and have the kids in the neighborhood get involved, get them exposed to the arts.

    FRENDY:  You mentioned earlier that you aborted your short film due to funding. Are you willing to complete it at this stage of your career?

    TIM:  Ah man! Yea totally - I actually just got the most expensive piec. I brought a cinema camera recently, and now working on the rest. I’m starting to create the storyboard for it and hopefully can start producing by the top of 2018. 

    FRENDY:  Would it be a spoiler to tell us what the short is going to be about?

    TIM:  Yeah, all I can say is it will be a relatively short fashion film. Two to five minutes long and it's inspired by Nocturnal Animals.

    FRENDY:  Where do you ultimately see yourself in this ever expansive photography universe?

    TIM:  Living photo legend, decent cinematographer *Laughs*, director, and running a non-profit for underprivileged kids to get into the arts in an early age.

  • Fine Photo Dining

    I refrain from taking pics of my meal to post on Instagram, simply because they do not reflect the deliciousness that I'm going to savagely devour.  Fortunately, Londoners who share the same problem are receiving some help from a restaurant called Dirty Bones.

    According to Metro UK, The trendy eatery is aiding customers to take the most aesthetically-pleasing shot of their food by providing "Instagram Kits," which include a portable LED light, tripod, selfie stick, several chargers for an array of gadgets and an attachable wide-angle lens.

    Truthfully, the kit does not guarantee a fire food flick but at least your confidence level will increase with every shot.

    Photo: @DiaryDrifter

  • Justin's Vision

    I was fortunate enough to become friends with the exceptional photographer Justin Amoafo, right before his ascension into elite lensman status. Justin was only 15 years old when we initially met but his tremendously poised demeanor and go-getter mentality positioned him light years ahead of his peers.

    Born and raised in Queens, New York by Ghanaian parents, the multi-talented visionary was instilled with an immense value for education.  As a matter of fact, at the age of 11 Justin suggested that he should attend boarding school. “I was always an outcast and wanted to expand my horizons, experience a new environment,” says Amoafo. With his parent’s approval and a lucrative scholarship, the young adventurer was enrolled at the prestigious Eagle Brook in Western Massachusetts. 

    Justin was one of only six black kids in the entire institution but the statistic didn’t cast a shadow of fear on his pursuit of enlightenment. Amoafo was so in awe with the refreshing scenery at his new abode, he decided to freeze it all in time.  Using his roommate’s state-of-the-art camera, Justin began to take pictures of the beautiful landscape surrounding Eagle Brook.  Since then, photography instantly became Amoafo’s primary focus. He started posting photos on Flickr, which ultimately led him to gain fans across the world.

    Immediately following boarding school, Justin attended Brooklyn Tech HS with an increased passion for snapping.  After a year of saving up lunch money, the bright-eyed shutterbug was able to purchase his very first camera, the Canon t2i. Mastering the art of Flickr, Amoafo leveled up to Tumblr, where he garnered even more admirers.

    Justin is currently attending NYU Shanghai with a major in Interactive Media arts and Business but that isn’t stopping him one bit from putting work in behind the lens.

    FRENDY: What compelled you to study abroad after high school?

    JUSTIN: As a kid, I always dreamt of traveling the world. After a summer abroad in high school, I made it my business to take advantage of every opportunity to see a new place. Naturally, I had to pursue college options outside of the USA.

    FRENDY: Is it difficult for you to find a balance between schoolwork and photography?  Are you able to find steady shooting gigs in Shanghai?

    JUSTIN:  One of the most difficult things for humans in general is maintaining a balance. Whenever you find yourself in that comfortable place, life switches up your situation. Thankfully, my major at school and my real life career/hobbies are intertwined, so usually it’s not too difficult.

    Work in Shanghai has been steady, thankfully. People here show a lot of love. When they see you doing great work, they’ll always go out of their way to help you get gigs. As usual, staying hungry & seeking out opportunities is also a great way to close gigs.

    FRENDY: You’re one of my favorite people to follow on Snapchat due the display of your worldly adventures. Are your travels for leisure or work?

    JUSTIN: Both. Living internationally already makes it much easier to pick up clients that require me to travel or have an opportunity abroad. I’m always itching to travel regardless, so most of my free weekends and ‘vacations’ are spent visiting a new city.

    FRENDY: How did the relationship with your muse Sira P Kante come about?

    JUSTIN: *Laughs* She’s definitely my muse. A modern day Naomi Campbell.  Sira and I met through one of my good friends. We met up for a test shoot one day in Summer 2016 and the rest is history.

    FRENDY: I admire your effortless ability to network with the industry’s finest. I noticed that you’ve been shooting superstar musicians and promising actors who are from the motherland. What set of events lead to such astounding opportunities?

    JUSTIN: Every connection I’ve made, both business & personal has been organic. I never force relationships, but I’m definitely not above a cold email or intro. That being said, the world is smaller than we all think. It’s so often you want to work with someone and a friend (or friend of a friend) can make the connection for you. Organic networking is the best, especially when you’re already social.

    FRENDY: What are the top 3 pictures you’ve ever taken?

    JUSTIN: I don’t think I have 3 strict top favorites but here are some that I like -

    FRENDY: Are you planning to take your creative talents into new heights?

    JUSTIN: I’m always striving to be my best self. Photography is one of my passions, but by no means is it my only means of expression. I am working on expressing myself fully, with no filters or limitations. We’re in the era of the multidimensional artist and I think that’s so great. Everyone should be able to create with no filter.

  • R.I.P Bill Cunningham

    I never had the chance to meet Bill Cunningham on the streets of NYC, but I truly felt his spirit simply from hearing the wonderful stories told by those who were fortunate enough to be photographed by him. 

    Earlier today, it was announced that the legendary street-style lensman passed at the age of 87, due to complications after a recent stroke. For the past 40 years, Bill has magnificently captured the concrete jungle's most fashionable individuals and showcased them in The New York Times. My good friend Delroy Smith (who's been featured on the blog countless times) served as one of Mr. Cunningham's favorite muses.  Below are Delroy's words after hearing of his death:

    Welcome to the other side, Bill.  Shoot God in all of his glorious angles!

  • LNP Snapchat Trailer

    I’m sure after Merlin Bronques read my last post about me missing his LastNightParty Documentaries he prompted to release this visual (haha). As stated numerous times, the visionary’s snapchat account is booming due to it’s *clears throat* eye grabbing content.  For those who are still debating to follow him on the audacious app this video serves as the ultimate deal breaker!

     Check it out below and choose wisely:

     

  • Palladium Instagram Take Over

    I’m extremely thankful for my brother/photographer Erick Hercules because he is one of my very few friends that shares the exact passion in his craft as I.  Furthermore, there is no jealousy or resentment when we acquire personal achievements (we all know this is what genuine brotherhood is about).  With that being said, allow me to announce our latest collaboration with Palladium Boots!

    Erick has taken over Palladium’s instagram page this week to provide his usual ethereal flicks showcasing their footwear with the aid of Paulina Stanisz and myself.   Be sure to follow them and see the awesomeness we created!

  • Erick Hercules x Chelsea Market NY

    Hope everyone's Sunday is going swell! Just here to inform you that my brother Erick Hercules' is one of a few hand picked photographers to have their epic visuals featured on the walls of Chelsea Market located in the swanky Meatpacking District of New York. For those who have never been, the venue is one of the greatest food halls in the world! It contains more than 35 vendors serving everything imaginable. Furthermore, the unique produce carrier attracts an astounding 6 million national and internationally visitors daily!

    The photographs will be featured only for one month so don't be a Debby Downer and check them out before its too late.

  • Frendy Lemorin x Erick Hercules For Publish Brand

    It is my pleasure to present the awesome photos that Erick Hercules and I conjured up for Publish Brand.  The prospering California based menswear line approached Erick about joining their Publisher’s Project: Photographer’s Campaign.  Since the exceptional Lensman and I have created a special rapport for providing ethereal body of works, he contacted me to collaborate!

     For the shoot, I am wearing Publish Brand’s Temple maroon top with their infamous Jogger Pants. Indulge in the flicks below:

  • Last Days At Bape

    What a rollercoaster ride it has been working for Nigo's former braindchild all these years!  Much love and respect to each soul that has been supporting me since my braid days.  WIthout it, I would literally die.  

    For those not aware, yesterday was my last working shift at BAPE. The second floor virtually transformed into my own little office where I would conduct therapy sessions with "hypebeasts" from all over the globe (I meant that in the nicest way possible, haha). Thriving photographer Versus came by the shop to capture some of the last moments in my former domain. 

    Indulge below.....and try your best not to tear up:

  • Nostalgia

    The broski Yussuf Kassim Manzi and I have assembled once more to embark on an epic collaboration, this time utilizing my FRNDY LMRN logo T-Shirt.  As you all know, March is my last month at Nigo's former brainchild BAPE NYC after almost a decade so this project means ample because of it's significance.  To give more an in depth look on our joint venture, here are Yussuf's very own words:

    "The theme and concept behind this shoot was to trigger a sense of nostalgia that birthed the renaissance man that we all admire, Pharrell Williams.  the vibes came from a place of inspiration of the early work that introduced the band N.E.R.D, with photos that were taken by famed photographer Terry Richardson.  The feeling behind the imagery was raw and unforgivable about being who you are.  I mean Pharrell is a guy who created a sound of a generation while wearing what most rappers at the time called 'weird and questionable'.

    So for this we did a tribute of originality.  Being that FRNDY LMRN and myself stand as a brand for culture and true organic passion with no hype attached, we decided to present the following photos that depict what we stand behind the most; discovering your inner N.E.R.D."

    Photographer: Ray Polanco

  • Czar's Palace: Gender Bender

    Past and present pop culture icons like Grace Jones, Prince, Pharrell Williams, The Eurythmics (Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart), Lenny Kravitz, David Bowie, Marc Jacobs, Rihanna, Elton John, Aaliyah, Michael Jackson, and Alexander McQueen all have paved a way of their own...but what exactly made them stand out? Besides possessing a uniquely creative talent, the uncanny ability to transform anything worn into a trend has made these individuals virtually unstoppable.

    You may be asking yourself why did I name this article "Gender Bender"?  I want my audience to know that clothing bears no gender. The garments that we see on the catwalk, as well as on store racks display the art form conveyed from the designer's eye. The pop culture figures afore mentioned are icons in my opinion because they continuously push the envelope in the fashion realm. Each of them embody the art of constructing a character that is unable to be replicated; pushing boundaries, and daring to embrace a form that may seem taboo to many.

    Take Prince for example. This man possess enough swag to walk in heels and peasant blouses that most men would not even consider if they saw it on a rack. Annie Lennox from the Eurythmics, sported a masculine haircut during her earlier years on the charts, pairing that hairdo with a well tailored mens suit. Her look may have been androgynous and deemed anything but feminine. Nevertheless, she softened her apparance with dramatic makeup.

    All of these other individuals that I have mentioned in my opinion set high standards in a rare art form in the fashion world. Now I know that I am guilty for not mentioning a few well-known entertainers and that may be because they have slipped my mind. Then there are the names I purposely did not mention (I will tell you why in a few). Let me first dig deeper into the topic of "Gender Bender". In the world that we live in, it seems necessary to put a label on everything. Either you are black,white, gay, straight, male, female or any other classification.  If a man decides to wear a skirt/kilt, leggings, or a cropped t-shirt he should not feel be boxed into a category as being homosexual. If a woman decides to have a buzz cut and adds men's clothing to her wardrobe, she is labeled as being interested in women. In my opinion, when you explore unknown territory it heightens experience and you become more acclimated. I have shopped in the women's section or in stores that catered only to women and found gems that have been added to my collection. By all means I am not insinuating that this is for everyone, and I most certainly not dictating what you should be doing while shopping. I am just simply stating that this is something that you can look into, if you feel comfortable doing so.

    There are big names that I failed to mention like I said before because they must have slipped my mind. Then there are names that I did not mention because personally they were not right for this category. Take Kanye West for example. He is a visionary, an artist in his own right, and an amazing lyricist. In addition to that I am not taking away from the fact that he has a great sense of style. However, he does not take risks in his wardrobe or "bends" the rules in his appearance.  Before anyone jumps to any conclusions, I want to make this very clear that I do not expect every individual to be the next Prince, Alexander McQueen, or Lenny Kravitz because I respect everyone's personal decisions. However, just because one may pair Balmain biker denim with a Givenchy leather sweater and an A.P.C. camel overcoat does not make him/her in the leading pack with those that destroy rules and create looks that are totally unconventional. I admire individuals that create breath taking aesthetics. We weren't meant to occupy the same fashion lane. Some of us may be simpler than others and I honor every decision.

    Do not judge anyone based on appearance. It could be that they looked up to one of the individuals that I mentioned and maybe one day be influencial to the world. Remember, clothing are constructed fabrics without specific gender targets. They are just finished pieces of art that the designer wants the world to appreciate.

    Written By: Delroy Smith

    Edited By: Frendy Lemorin

    Photographed By: Shane Miller

  • Czar's Palace: The Introduction

    The world we live in today operates by laws and imaginary boundaries that cannot be surpassed unless we have specific documentation. Personally, I believe today’s fashion is veering off into a political realm. Patterns, colors, fabrics, styles that should have been "done away with" are being judged by "fashion figures" who sit in their "fashionable oval office" feeding consumers what to wear. My name is Delroy Smith, and I am here to tell you “no more!”.

     I created this portion on the site with the help of my brother Frendy Lemorin and skilled photographer Shane Miller. The reason I named it Czar's Palace is because I think of my closet as a palace hosting many different pieces dear to me.  The garments are collections of clothing that I found during my trips or gifts from friends who traveled around the world. Other pieces that I own are simply created by me. My style has evolved over the years because of the inspiration from my culture (others as well). My mother is from Suriname (deep rooted in African History), my Father from Jamaica, Grandmother from Guyana, and Great Grandparents originating from China.

     I want my audience to know whether male or female, fashionista, or completely blind to style that they can create a character that’ll stay with them for a moment or even a lifetime. Do not limit yourself with rules. It's not how big of a step one takes to create or alter a look. As long as the will is there. It may be adding more color, going for a more tailored aesthetic, spicing up your street style, or making accessorizing more accessible in your wardrobe.  Just do it!

    Written By: Delroy Smith

    Edited By: Frendy Lemorin

    Photographed By: Shane Miller