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.

 

Summer in Cali Pt. 2

For anyone who follows my page, or knows me, knows that ever since I started modeling I try to work in different markets whenever I can. Miami slows down in the summer, and I like to travel to experience other cities and possibly work with my other agencies. Hopefully, I can work a few jobs, I try to set up a few shoots to create in between time, and ideally, my family can come visit me. Last summer, I spent a little over 8 weeks in New York City through my agency, Fusion. This summer, I chose Los Angeles to work with my agency, Vision.

I finally arrive in Los Angeles, on July 4th. Unlike last summer, this time my family will be with me for a couple of weeks during my work-cation. Along with celebrating the holiday, we will also celebrate my son, Kekoah’s 3rd birthday (which is on July 5th), along with trying to get in some quality family time. My lady is from Huntington Beach, which is about 55 minutes (if you could drive down the 405 without 405 traffic) outside of LA. So, we plan on setting up camp at her mom’s house. My goal this past summer, was to stay in the market for at least 30 days; book 4-5 jobs, and get some creative visuals via test shoots.

When I was considering markets for the summer, I listed three potential cities: Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. I chose LA because I signed with Vision three years ago, when I first started modeling full time, but a huge reason why, was because my family would be there. Last summer in NYC was difficult. My son had just turned two, and Kadie is a teacher, summer is her free time. Unfortunately, summer also coincides with down-time in the Miami market. On top of that, I was geeked up after signing with my first NY agency last year. Usually, K heads back to her hometown whenever she has her breaks, so I decided this time I could do more with heading out west this year. The first few weeks, I made them and the “vacation” part, priority.

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Happy 4th from the HB Parade

During that first week, we went to the famous, 4th of July Celebration, Hungtington Beach Parade. Its an awesome family experience, filled with floats, bands, and culture-specific showings. Later that week, we celebrated Koah’s birthday. He had a Superhero themed pool party. This is the first year, where I think he’s aware of whats going on – as far as asking for toys and getting shy when people sing “Happy Birthday” to him. His birthday celebration lasted about a week. Kadie has a big family and they love showering each other with affection. Kadie and I must’ve been filled with a spirit of youthfulness, because we decided to also get our noses pierced.

In the midst of celebrating, I made my way into the agency to check in. I reacquainted myself with everyone- Micheal, Marco, Pam, and the rest of the Vision family. I took some fresh digitals, and set out a plan for the next few weeks. The staff at Vision is some welcoming. I always felt appreciated when I walked through their doors. Throughout my time there, I would drive “55 minutes” just to stop by. Mostly, to bug them and make sure they don’t forget me but mainly because it was such a warm environment.

It didn’t take me long to book a job, but it wasn’t through Vision. Ironically, it was actually in Miami, through, my mother agency, Wilhelmina-Miami. I returned a couple of days later, and went on my first LA casting, which was for Nordstroms and its subsidiaries (Hautelook &Nordstroms Rack). That was pretty much it, as far as work, for the first few weeks. Just that casting, some digitals, and random pop-ins. It was a little discouraging, but I took that time, and started working out 2 times a day, reading more, and looking for photographers to collaborate with.

On the family side, we decided it was time to take Koah to his first movie. We went to go see the 3-D version of The Secret Life of Pets. A great movie, at least the hour we were able to get him to sit through. We also hit up the amazing, Getty Musuem and spent a lot of time at the pool, the beach and spending time with their cousins. Eventually, my “vacation” portion of the trip ended, and my loved ones headed back to Miami. The universe must’ve wanted me to focus on family, because not even 24 hours after they left, things started to pick up.

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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.

Black Steel: The Genesis

Recently, I got up with my boy, @thphoto_ , and collaborated on an idea I had. I’ve taken Black Steel this year and I’ve created a small series on him. As I continue to let Black Steel evolve, I continue to pull back layers and find different origins of him. This time I tried to convey his beginnings – his genesis. This is a raw interpretation of that.

Legacy Builder

Legacy – an amount of money or property left to someone in a will; a thing handed down by a predecessor.

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The only legacy I knew of growing up, was the ones I saw on TV. Family heirlooms, farmhouses, “father’s watch”, “mother’s pearl necklace”, etc. I may be wrong but my family (unless I have an uncle or cousin who has more than they lead on) doesn’t have much of legacy. I’m not ashamed of them or that possible fact, but I will change that for my son. I am a Legacy Builder.

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Self-Imposed Social Media Sabbatical

As some might have noticed (i’m sure less than I assume), I took a small break from social media- Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter. Exactly, 2 weeks ago, I decided to challenge myself with a small sabbatical.

Like giving up anything else that is considered a social norm – drinking, eating candy, etc – I knew it would draw the question, “Why?” To almost imply something is wrong with me to want to give up something that you can live without. So I decided to not tell anyone I was doing it. To answer the question, I did it because I needed to refresh my focus. Too often this year I’ve found myself just hopping from app to app, refreshing each feed, feeling the desire to carve out a “moment” to post. I also found myself becoming envious of others, even though I know everything that glitters isn’t gold. A lot of people aren’t who they post they are. Their life isn’t as glamorous as a picture may indicate, but even knowing that, I was still jealous. So I deleted every social media app from my phone and iPad.

The first few days were observational. I realized I would literally pick up my phone, unlock it to check for any alerts, at least 8 times per hour. Since I didn’t have any social media apps, I found myself checking for emails more often. Refreshing my inbox, like I would my timelines. I even laughed a few times because my hands were on auto-pilot and I would say to myself “WTF are you doing?”

After about the first few days, a weird thing happened to me. I didn’t know what it was initially and I didn’t even recognize it. My attention span was slowly coming back. I found myself with so much more time and I didn’t know what to do. Usually, I go through my daily routine, spend time on social media, and by the end of the day I feel accomplished but not really knowing how I spent my time. After cutting out the social media, I realized my daily routine usually only takes about 4 hours of my day! FOUR HOURS! Without the distraction of a like, or a tag or a message, I can be done with my daily routine in four hours.

During this time, I also was able to clear through the clutter that is the american media which is jumbled with social media news. I didn’t care about any celebrity’s new nose job, the Republicans crying foul over the debate situation or how people felt about whatever other nonsense they care about for less than 24 hours. I was able to disconnect and only indulge in news that I cared about. It made me realize how much bullshit I have to filter through on the daily basis. I am literally told what to care about. I realized my precious moments with my family were even more precious without taking out my camera. I was living in the moment and as long as I have my mind those memories will never fade.

I was able to read and not worry about checking for updates. I spent hours watching youtube clips and researching people like James Baldwin, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X and Dr. Umar Johnson. During this time, I was able to step back and reflect on everything from religion to cooking. I noticed that African-Americans have more controversial, scandalous content available to the masses, in particular on syndicated radio. I was also able to focus on projects without the influence of being distracted or deterred by what I don’t have.

I think I’ll do another sabbatical next year. With the holidays coming up, I do enjoy sharing those photos. Maybe next year, i’ll do a full 30 days, or maybe i’ll do two-week breaks more often. If it doesn’t do anything else, it definitely preserves my data.

Paradigm Shift: Eating

This year has been the most productive year I’ve had as an adult. For the first time in my adult life, the year hasn’t flown bye. Ive been present for each day. Among so many things I’ve learned thus far in 2015 is to build habits.

Through self reflection, interaction with others and traveling to other countries, I’ve come to realize that things that I used to deem “normal” are not. In particular, the way I eat.

When I was blessed to go to Paris, one of the things that really stood out to me was the fact I can’t recall seeing many people eat on the go. I don’t remember seeing people eating doughnuts or a bagel while rushing to catch a train. I saw people who made time to eat. Also, I didn’t see many people snacking on chips or candy bars. Parisians overall were slim and trim people. Not particularly in shape or muscular but to me, they seemed very healthy (minus the excessive cigarette smokers). I also saw a similar culture in Jamaica (not so much in Mexico or London). Seeing this created a paradigm shift in me. I realized that the way I approach food and dieting is all wrong. It’s not just what I’m eating, but also how and when.

So now, I’ve decided that no matter what, I will always make time to eat. I will cut back and eventually cut out so many processed snacks and replace them with fruits. I won’t deprive myself, but I will try to only eat prepared desserts. I think the biggest change was realizing that eating this way is not a diet, but rather a lifestyle; it’s normal to most of the world.