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.

maxresdefault

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.

notesblacksteel

 

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.

 

Still Learning …

Education does not stop when you no longer have to enter a classroom. Over the last five years I’ve learned more about life than I did the 20+ previous years. When I say life, I don’t mean algebraic expressions or the skills I was taught to pass government mandated testing, but rather things like how to file taxes or how to gauge tire pressure or reading books from Deepak Chopra. I feel like one should always seek information; always be learning. With every shoot I do, I try to incorporate all of the new information I receive. As a matter of fact, I believe its impossible to unlearn something, so I have no choice but to incorporate it.

I linked up with one of my favorite photographers, T’Laniece, and we did a sports themed shoot. With the recent passing of boxing great, Muhammad Ali, I’ve been reminded of how great he was in and out of the ring. As I was watching footage of him training, something sparked dawned on me – I have that sweatsuit. I have a sweatsuit from Anatomy Projects (whose motto happens to be Still Learning), and its similar to vintage boxing training gear.

ali5_2110936i

With that in mind, some new Nike gear Ive been wanting to shoot, and the creativity between T and I, we present “Still Learning…” by Black Steel x T’Laniece.

_DSC9005_DSC8967_DSC8974_DSC8933_DSC8881_DSC8801_DSC8939

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.

 

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.

The Webster

Recently, I was chosen to collaborate with one of Miami’s fashion crown jewels – the Webster, shot by the talented Rio Camillios.  Styled by Webster’s own in-house stylist, wearing pieces from Dior, Fear of God, Valentino, Dries Van Noten, Saint Laurent, and Pierre Hardy.

Black Steel : The Time of Ashes

In Sidney Poitier’s autobiography, The Measure of a Man, he refers to a point in his journey of transitioning from dishwasher to a Broadway actor, The Time of Ashes. He compared it to the traditions of African tribes that cover the teenage boy’s faces in ash as they go through different rites of passages; and if successful come out as men.

For me, 2016 has been my Time of Ashes. As I continue to travel along my path, Ive had to endure frustration, overcome procrastination, and doubt. It’s been a test of my will thus far, but I know that this is a rite of passage, and not of denial.