Groovy x Black Steel

My motto when it comes to modeling is, “I work to create.”

What I mean is, whenever I book a job – and get to work for the amazing clients I’ve been able to work with- afterwards I’m looking into ways to create my own content. If you take a look at my portfolio Wilhelmina Portfolio, a majority of it features shoots I paid for myself, fueled by inspirations I came across. I love working , but I’m usually under the directives of a creative director. I can create with them, but only in a vacuum.

With this post, I’m going to give you a peek into my inspirations and thoughts for my latest shoot.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been really into Stevie Wonder’s album, “Hotter Than July”. Even though it came out 36 years ago, it’s brand new to me. Rocket Love and Lately, along with Master Jammin’ are my favorites. What struck me the most was the album cover.

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But the mood of the whole album, led me on a journey to find my groove. It led me in the direction of other artist like Teddy Pendergrass, and Prince. Listening to their music and researching their style during the period of the songs I was listening to weighed on me heavily going into this shoot.

With this shoot, I really wanted to find my lighting. Some models have such prominent features that lighting is not a problem for them, but for me, I found that some lighting makes me look they way I see myself in the mirror, and some is not so flattering, and others can over exaggerate. I wanted to really focus on that with this project. I looked up other models with my skin tone, and size, and I looked through as many pictures of them I could find and see how different lighting worked on them. I was inspired by supermodels, Orraine Barrett, Adonis Bosu, Armando Cabral, and Claudio Montiero.

 

As I looked over my book (which I do several times a week), I started to question, do I look expensive? Am I worth a $15k or $20k campaign? In my opinion, not from the pictures. So again, I did my research and figured who does book those campaigns, and whats the difference in their portfolio. (Now, before I go further, I don’t dictate my creations on the hopes it’ll land me a massive campaign. I’m realizing that comes through opportunities and mostly digitals. With that being said, campaigns do give me inspirations i.e. styling, lighting, props, etc.) I came across Lono Brazil’s book. His pictures just look expensive. Styling, locations, grooming, everything just looks awesome. He was a heavy influence on how I wanted to move and present myself with this shoot.

Finally, for styling, I wanted to keep it in-line with feeling expensive. Simple styling. Clean. Not a lot of colors, nothing contemporary. Classic pieces, that a five year old and a 55 year old could wear, and they would both look handsome. I was inspired by J. Crew, GAP and Todd Snyder’s respective campaigns. I love the styling from J. Crew. Head stylist, Gayle Spannaus does a great job for them. Then, I recently discovered, Todd Snyder. I love his simple pieces and the way he presents them in his latest campaign.

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After weeks of digesting, researching, reading, and listening to music, I was able to set up a shoot with Miami based photographers, Erick & Elliott. This is my third time collaborating with them, but only the first time on my own with own ideas (the first two times were test shoot through my agency, which I still paid for, but had very little creative control *rolls eyes*) I had the help of another person I’ve worked with before, Waina Chancy, as my stylist. We came together and created my latest creation, Groovy Black Steel.

 

Black as Night, Hard as Steel

Recently, I collaborated with the amazing Miss Robin (@missrobinv) for a quick photoshoot. We just went in and shot. No inspirations. Just a camera and a duffel bag of clothes. Throw in some trespassing on people’s property, and we were able to create some beautiful images.

Pushing The Rock

There is this story I like to tell myself when times feel stagnant, or I just don’t see the results from my efforts.

The story goes something like this,

There was a man on a journey to find a treasure. He traveled many, many miles through all type of terrain. About halfway through his journey he comes across a giant rock. A behemoth of a rock, twice his size and weighed much more than him. After already going through so much he couldn’t understand why it seemed that God was punishing him – making his journey impossible to complete. He fell to his knees from exhaustion, crying out to the heavens, when he heard a voice say, “Push the rock”. He never thought to push the rock because of its size, but he followed the voice’s instructions. 

He began to push, and push the rock. No movement. Push, and push. Leaning in with his shoulder, digging his feet deep in the ground, pushing with all his might. Everytime he felt like giving up the voice would whisper, “keep pushing.” For days, he pushed, and pushed, and pushed. Nothing. Finally, after some time, he looked to the heavens and cursed God. He turned around on his path and started back to look for another way. On his way back he caught a glimpse of himself in a pond. To his surprise he couldn’t believe his reflection. His shoulders were broader, his biceps and triceps were bigger, back wider. He had become stronger! So excited about his new body he grew more confident, determined to overcome the rock. So determined he sprinted back to where the rock was, to only find it was gone.

For me, that story represents perseverance, patience, and understanding that the universal law of putting in work and trusting the process will never fail. I’ve been pushing the rock a lot lately! Most recently I collaborated with Chicago based photographer, Clay Boutte.

 

Be Specific

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There is a saying among Christian folk that goes, “God laughs at your plans.” When I first heard that as a young man I was sort of pissed. My reasoning was why do we have to worry about our every decision if its already laid out for us. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand. The universe, God, isn’t laughing at what we want out of life. But rather, similar to how I laugh at my son for wanting to drink the lemon juice because its in a bright yellow bottle, you’ll get what you ask for.

For example, before this year, one of my main goals were to shoot for Tommy Hilfiger. Then boom, in March I shot for Tommy Hilfiger. It was so underwhelming. It was underwhelming because I got what I asked for. I asked to shoot for Tommy Hilfiger. So I was blessed with one shot, one look, down the street from my home for Tommy Hilfiger… EUROPE. I wasn’t specific in my request.

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images by nuru kimondo

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The universe (for you, maybe its God, Jesus, Allah) is funny. It operates on a literal basis, like a robot. It doesn’t read between the lines or “get what you meant”. So now I’m meditating, and putting into the universe, “I want to shoot for a Tommy Hilfiger FALL CAMPAIGN”. Be specific, or you might end up drinking some nice, chilled, lemon juice.

*these are not the pictures from the Tommy shoot

4th Quarter: The Year of Finishing

I’m sluggish. I’m sick (literally). I’m tired.

As I type, I’m combating against all of that in order to finish 2015. This year has been my most challenging year. I had a huge expectations coming into this year. I heaped a lot of pressure on myself to do well, in my own opinion. As we start the 4th quarter, I’m down a few points. This year has felt like my Superbowl, and currently I’m down 10 points going into the 4th quarter.

I’ve traveled outside of the US three times this year. I signed with a major NYC modeling agency. I’ve worked with clients that I’ve only admired from a far. I’ve created images with the help of amazing photographers that I could’ve never done in the past. Physically, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a while; probably since my college football days. I’ve dropped my son off at school, we got a new truck and I raised my credit score.

All great things, but I’ve had miscues and have fallen short of my own expectations. I drank alcohol this year on a few occasions. For sure, I haven’t drank this little amount of alcoholic beverages since prior to college, but my goal was to eliminate it completely; I fell short. I did eat fried food. Again, down on the amount versus previous years, but my goal was to eliminate it; iI fell short. I didn’t completely eradicate the words, “Nigga” and “thot” from my vocabulary. I slipped up a couple times, and I have been referring to men as “brother” or “king” but again, I fell short.

My goal for the remaining quarter is to put up two touchdowns and seal the deal. Work on what I can work on. Control what I can control, and leave everything above, below and in between to the Universe. Lets FINISH strong, and I can’t wait to hear how great 2015 was to you!

Coast to Coast

I started modeling in 2011 when I moved to Miami. I signed to Wilhelmina Miami’s Commercial Division initially. From 2011 til February 2014, I only modeled Part-time as jumped between gigs and working in retail. So, in my opinion, I’ve only been modeling for  a year and some change. Through dedication, risk taking, researching, tears, support and obstacles I’ve been able to do some pretty cool things because of modeling. With the help of my agencies and agents, none of it would be possible. From Stellar Talent with Britt and Cindy to all of my agents with Wilhelmina Miami, thank you! I’m hoping to get repped in Europe pretty soon 🙂

NYC Agency: Fusion

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Miami Agency: Wilhelmina

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LA Agency: Visions

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Deep In The Season

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Karl Simone NYC

In every major professional sport, there always comes a point in the season where teams are in the thick of things for a playoff spot or looking forward to trying again next year. In the NFL, you can tell by about week 9. In the NBA, around late-February, and in baseball around mid-August. The same thing applies to obtaining your goals.

By this point in 2015, you know whether you’re close to your goals or if you’re going to pack it up and try again next year. For those in the latter, for any avid sport’s fan, you also know about “that” team that comes out of no where and makes a playoff push.

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Karl Simone

We are deep in our season. 2015 is not a lost cause, nor have you locked up your “playoff spot”. Let’s not get complacent with winning, and especially not losing. Check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “How am I doing?”, “Which goals have I obtained?”, “Which goals are within reach?”, and “Which goals do I need to let go for right now?” (It’s not a loss, just a change of plans)

Keep hustling and keep fighting as we get deep into the year of FINISHING!