The Birth Of The Prince
Today marks the 22nd birthday of my only son. Wow! Just wow!
To all the new parents out there, please be sure to spend as much time as you possibly can with your little ones because, before you know it, they’ll be all grown up in what seems like a matter of moments.
I’ll admit, although I love that my children are grown and mostly independent, sometimes I wish they were babies again just so I can hold them….I would love to just watch their development all over again. It has been the greatest joy and the most fulfilling time of my entire life.
But, today is all about my Junior.
Son, I love you, and I thank God for you. You will always be my baby, but now you are a man. It’s time to tap into the greatness that the Most High has waiting for you and level up! I pray that you become a far greater man than I could ever be. I look forward to your ascension, and In shaa Allah (God willing) I hope to someday pass the crown to you as you grow from a Prince to a King!
I love you my Son!!! Happy Birthday to you. ❤️
This Is Love…
Love is not just for couples, love is for everyone!!! We all need love. We all need to show each other love frequently, especially those that are closest to us.
In honor of love, I present these 2 best friends being a beautiful illustration of what love truly means, even at an early age. We can all learn from their example and make a conscious effort to spread more love in this divided world. ❤
Recently I’ve noticed how much depression had started to affect my work over the past few years, and it’s been a real eye opener. Not creating with the same level of care and passion, thereby reducing the overall quality of my images has been an extremely disappointing discovery. I was literally making photos, doing very little post production, then posting to my social media accounts. I was totally frustrated, burnt out, and I just couldn’t make myself care like I use to. It was honestly a dreadful time in my life. Looking back, my work really suffered because of my attitude.
I’m happy to say that I’m rectifying my mistakes and I’m officially back on track. I can’t tell you how good it feels to thoroughly care again. To find myself again. To do the hard work to achieve the results I want. To be back on point and creating my way. Reviewing my work from the past 6 years makes me want to completely re-edit almost every single photo I’ve made. But I’m going to be realistic and selective with the images I choose to reimagine moving forward. As long as the end result makes me happy, I’m good.
If you’re suffering internally as I was, I highly suggest that you make the time to do whatever it takes to bring yourself back to a state of normalcy. Trust me, the difference will be shocking! But it’s definitely worth the effort to reinvigorate your life as well as your creative energy.
The first photo is the original that I posted back in 2021 when I initially created it. The second photo is my most recent edit, which I feel represents her skin, the overall scene, and my work far more accurately! When comparing the two photos side by side I was very emotional. I couldn’t believe just how far I had slipped away. Regaining my mojo makes me truly thankful that I’m back on the road to recovery.
A Night Of Fun
Happy New Year!
Know you, a large portion of photography historically focuses on human suffering and atrocities. One aspect of being a photographer is documenting all sides of life, the good the bad, and the ugly. Throughout my career I’ve photographed a variety of situations, including those that aren’t pretty or positive. But these days I tend to move away from negative imagery. Even if I feel compelled to photograph something that could be considered negative, I often choose not to share those images for public consumption.
Having suffered a number of tragedies in my personal life, I’m at a stage where I feel I just want to immerse myself in positive energy only. So I love to photograph candid moments of people just being themselves. I love to see people enjoying themselves, going about their daily lives. My favorite subjects to photograph are those that depict joy. And I know happiness in “serious” photography still seems to be frowned upon, but it’s what I like to see, and more importantly, it’s what makes me feel good inside.
With that out of the way, here are some photos I made at one of my favorite places to hang out and people watch. Here you’ll notice ordinary moments of humor, fun, and details you might otherwise miss.
Moving forward I will continue to photograph any and everything that sparks my interests, but I will consistently share work that promotes positivity. I hope in some small way I inspire you to do the same. There’s NOTHING wrong with being happy. And it’s certainly nothing wrong with photographing people who AREN’T suffering. Believe me, choosing joy will help lift your spirits as well as add some much needed variety to your portfolio. If enough people adapt this mindset maybe we’ll finally start to make some positive changes in the photography community.
Peace and blessings!
Santa’s New Sleigh
As this year comes to a close I thought I’d share one more favorite from 2022.
Shoutout to the city, coordinator’s, and all of the participants who showed up, despite the bad weather, to put on a really fantastic parade.
This photo of Santa arriving on his new sleigh served as the climax to this years Electric Light Parade. I love this photo because, of all the different elements involved. From the lights, to the colors, to the visible raindrops falling from the night sky. This photo is also the conclusion of a beautiful night full of fun and excitement.
More importantly though, it’s the conclusion of another year full of photo making for me. This is my last big photographic event of 2022, and it was also one of the most fun! God willing, I hope 2023 can provide as many wonderful photogenic moments as this year did.
To you and yours, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!
Peace and Blessing to you all.
A Lowrider Christmas
This year’s 35th annual Electric Light Parade was cold, dark, windy, and very rainy. But you know something? I loved every second of it!
The winter months in the desert are the very best to me. It’s the only time the weather reminds me of my home in the Midwest. It’s also the only time we get a break from the intense heat, so I absolutely love being outdoors during this time of year.
This was my first time attending the Light Parade, but I had so much fun. Seeing all the people out despite the weather was really refreshing. I honestly thought that maybe they would cancel the parade due to the poor weather conditions, but to my surprise the event went on without any issues.
The photos I’m sharing represent the highlight of the entire evening for me, the lowriders. I love that the city embraces this part of their culture, allowing lowriders to participate. I love lowriders and I’ve been anxious to finally photograph some. I only wish there would’ve been more in the lineup. I look forward to meeting some of the owners of these beautiful and unique vehicles, so that I may do more in depth photo work with them.
For now, here are a few of my favorite images. Enjoy!
Photo Of The Year
Although the year is not quite over, I’ve chosen my favorite photo from this year.
2022 has been a great year for me in terms of creating. I have a ton of beautiful images that I can choose from at any given moment. But this particular image stands out in my mind as one of the most beautiful and meaningful that I’ve made this year. This photo of my daughter is proof that not every image we create needs to have a complex backstory to be important.
So, the story of this photo is extremely simple and straight forward. My daughter was trying on her new scarves. As she was coming down the stairs, I was on my way up the stairs. I saw how the light was hitting her face, so I asked her to stand there while I go grab my camera. I came back within a second or two and made the photo. I made a few frames just for the sake of variety, but ultimately this is the one that really spoke to me. That’s it. Easy right?
As you can see, sometimes the most simple, unassuming, moments can make for some of our greatest, or, most favorite work.
Don’t be afraid of “regular” moments. Often times they are overlooked, but totally beautiful. As long as you have a camera to record what you see, you will always be able to create something special.
State Fair Favorites
Last but not least, here are 4 of my favorite photos from the State Fair. I love these particular images because, of their combination of colorfulness, humor, and timing.
Until next time, enjoy!
State Fair Continued
I’d like to share some more images from my time at this years State Fair. This collections focuses on the people, the expressions and the animals. Enjoy!
State Fair Monochromes
Here’s just a few black and white snapshots from the State Fair. Enjoy!
State Fair 2022
Fall is my favorite time of the year, and each year I look forward to attending the State Fair.
I love the sights, the sounds, the smells. All of the different people interacting, having fun. The lights, the rides, the colors. It’s really a beautiful experience. It’s also a literal playground for photographers.
With that being said, I’d like to share a few moments from my trip to this year’s fair.
Happy Halloween everyone!
Just thought I’d share a few fun images of one of my favorite horror movie icons, Jason Voorhees. I hope that everyone has a very safe and fun time!
Happy Birthday Queen!
Happy Birthday to the one and only Queen Terri.
Thank you for helping to change my life for the better. I’ll never be able to fully repay you for all that you’ve done for me, but I want you to know how much I truly appreciate you. I pray that the Most High will bless you on your special day, and everyday of your life. I love you!!!
Today my family and I will quietly celebrate my 22nd year as a photographer together.
To most people it might not matter, or you may even feel like why celebrate something so arbitrary? Well, let me explain.
When you know my story, my personal struggle, you understand why every moment of positivity in my life is worth celebrating. When you come from a world of gangs, drugs, alcohol, poverty, violence, death and destruction, yet you somehow manage to make it out, EVERY win counts! No matter how big or small.
Twenty two years ago digital cameras did exist, but most digital cameras back then used tech that would be considered prehistoric by todays standards. Plus, most of the more professional grade digital cameras were far beyond what the average consumer could afford. Consumer level digital cameras were underpowered and low quality, but still gave us a glimpse of what to expect in the future.
My first camera was a Polaroid instant camera gifted to me by my mother in the late 80’s. I loved it! I created many memories with it, until I decided that owning a camcorder would be a cooler decision. Fast forward a decade and now I’m taking a photography class in high school. I loved the process of working with film, and I considered the possibility of adding photography to my artistic arsenal. Unfortunately, I moved on from photography to continue with my God-given gift of traditional pencil drawings, and painting. I also fell deeper in love with writing poetry during this time. It’s something I’ve done off and on ever since I was a child. But my first true love was always music.
I wanted to be a part of the music business more than anything! So all of my other artistic endeavors took a backseat while I pursued a career in music. My friends and I came very close to signing a professional recording contract, but with music rapidly descending into negativity I started having second thoughts. After the loss of one of the founding members of our group, someone who was like a big brother to me, I decided to redirect my energy back into photography.
I had my first child and I needed something to document her growth and development. At that time I wanted to learn to use a computer, so I bought one of the first colorful iMac in hopes of making short family films. I thought about film making in the future, so once again I purchased a newly designated “digital” camcorder. The digital aspect of this device was a built in low resolution digital camera feature. I thought it was so cool because, it was 2 devices I needed wrapped up into one small package. I filmed and photographed my daughter for a few years, swapping out one device for the latest and greatest. This was also around the time my music producer gave me my very first copy of Adobe Photoshop, which I also didn’t know how to use. Yet my photographic journey would come full circle in the year 2000, as my mother would give me my first real camera. At the time she was dating a former military man that was also a professional photographer. After he passed away she gave me his beloved professional film SLR camera. I had no clue how to use it, but I was determined to learn.
After a few years of practice, the world of digital photography started to evolve rapidly. It finally evolved to a point that I felt it could be a reasonable option to shoot alongside of my film camera. Around this time my Uncle Billy, who was a photographer during his time in the U.S. military, bought a small, very expensive, fully digital camera. When he found out that I was interested in photography he reluctantly let me borrow it. I used this tiny digital camera in unison with my film camera, but the images from my film camera were far superior. Despite the low quality from the digital files, I fell in love with the immediacy of seeing my photos right away. It reminded me of my days using instant cameras. Although I loved film, I was totally hooked on digital photography.
As soon as I received my next income tax refund I decided to fully dive into digital. Against the wishes of my better half, I purchased an entire digital setup, even though I had no idea what I was getting into. My thought process was, if I can make decent pics with the film camera, surely I can learn to make them with the digital. It took years of trail and error, but eventually I started making photos that rivaled my film photos. After years of photographing with both cameras side by side, I made the tough decision to retire my film SLR. Digital was quickly taking over and I was all for it.
After a few years of using digital, my family and I moved from our home state of Illinois to Georgia. I setup shop in my new city and quickly made a name for myself. Some time in 2014 while cleaning out my closet I saw my old film SLR. It instantly brought back memories, making me realize that even my latest digital equipment just couldn’t compare. There was something about the all metal build quality and weight of the film camera that the more plastic feeling digital camera just couldn’t compete with. For fun I decided to go to the local convenient store and buy some cheap film. That decision helped me rediscover my love for film, and I’ve been shooting film again off and on ever since.
Throughout all these years I’ve encountered many issues. When I started there wasn’t a ton of young Black men interested in pursuing photography. There weren’t very many resources, so I had to get information wherever I could. Many of my family members and friends thought I was crazy for even trying. The opinion of most Black people at the time was, photography is only for old white men. Most of us hadn’t been exposed to all the great Black photographers of the world. We had no clue about all the great Black photographers making huge contributions to the world of art. Even as I dug deeper all I discovered were more white photographers. All of the photographers considered to be “masters” and “greats” were always white. Organizations like Magnum were said to be the best of the best. Unfortunately, most Black artists from the inner city hadn’t been educated on the great Black photography collectives such as, The Kamoinge Workshop. Some of us knew about Gordon Parks or a few others, but that’s it. We had no idea about the racist history of photography, or about the prominent Black photographers throughout history.
So as I went about my journey I had many people looking at me funny. A Black man walking around in the hood with a big camera around his neck was typically cause for concern. Cameras in general are frowned upon in most Black neighborhoods. People thought I was working for the police, or that I was some nerd doing something totally lame. I believed in myself and what I was trying to accomplish, so I pushed forward. Often times I would receive warnings about going out with my camera, and I put my own safety at risk many times just trying to pursue this art form. I wanted to progress so badly that I started reaching out to established professionals. I basically begged for every position from apprenticeship, to assistant, only to be rejected over and over again. I was turned away from jobs and opportunities simply because I was a young Black man interested in photography. Some of the white artists I contacted questioned why I would even apply for certain jobs. They would suggest I try something more “urban”. I could only stand by and watch as less experienced, less qualified, white people received every job opportunity that I applied for. I had to watch all of my dreams be fulfilled by someone else. Even as I built up a successful business of my own, I was still denied the chance to move up another level. That was until I reached out to a Black celebrity photographer out of Atlanta named, Shawn Dowdell. He believed in me enough to give me a chance. We quickly formed a friendship, and he was always there to offer helpful advice whenever I needed it. He was very instrumental in my early development. His motivation helped me accomplish my short term goals of being published by multiple magazines and releasing my own calendar projects. I’m forever grateful to this man for taking a chance on a complete stranger, sharing his knowledge and wisdom to help further my career.
With the advancement of social media platforms I’ve watched young people with little to no experience go from unknown to celebrity status. From unheard of to influencer. I’ve watched the whole art world change. I see more young Black people receive opportunities that I’ve been denied for years. And honestly it’s bittersweet. On one hand, I’m overwhelmed with happiness for any Black person that can achieve any form of success, but I can’t help but feel left out. It’s like, people like me have suffered so others can make it, but we’re still here too! I’ve never asked for any handouts, I’ve always been proactive in my artistic pursuits. I’ve always jumped out ahead and put myself out there when everyone else was afraid. I’ve always worked hard for the things I want in life. I endured all of the criticism, racism, classism, and discrimination while finding my way. All this because, I was trying to fit into an art form not designed for Black people, at a time when it wasn’t acceptable to do so. Back when being a photographer wasn’t cool at all. Making pictures wasn’t something a Black person would seriously consider a legitimate career choice. And it certainly wasn’t encouraged or celebrated like it is now. I know many of the OG Black photographers, such as my mentor, feel the exact same way.
In a world dominated by numbers and popularity, I can’t count how many real life people I’ve influenced over the years? I don’t have the largest social media following, I’m not well known all over the world, but I have had a very real impact on those around me. I paid for a website before it was the thing to do. I started a blog, which I still update even though they’re no longer popular. I used an iPhone to challenge myself in my spare time before Apple started rewarding people for it. I schooled plenty of people on film photography when digital was taking over. I know people who started their career based on my influence. People nowadays get life twisted. They forget all about the real world. They believe that in order to reach people or do anything of any real significance you must do it online. You have to have the numbers to back up your work. And if you don’t, then in their delusional world you’re worthless. I’m living proof that’s not true! For twenty two years I’ve been influential in the lives of real people. Not just to pursue a career in photography, but in many other areas of life. I’ve helped people discover their passion in life. I’ve helped people chase their dreams. I’ve helped people realize their capabilities. I’ve given people confidence and made them recognize their own beauty. I’ve helped people acquire new skills. I even helped people find success in areas they never thought of for themselves. I still help people try harder to push forward despite the obstacles they face. And honestly, I’ve done all this without so much as a simple “thank you” the majority of the time.
I’ve alway been a big proponent of giving credit where it’s due. In my eyes, it’s all about being fair. I’m just one of MANY Black people who has put in the work for years only to be largely ignored. This story isn’t about sympathy, it’s not about entitlement. It’s about real people, like myself, dedicating themselves to something they believe in despite the odds set against them. It’s about perseverance, passion, belief, and love. I love what I do even if nobody else cares. But of course we all want some form of recognition for the time, work and effort we commit to our craft.
I’ve lost so many loved ones during this journey, it’s hard to even comprehend. I’ve faced so many hardships, setbacks, and struggles along the way. More than I’m willing to even share in this particular post. But throughout all the pain, all the bad days, my immediate family has always been there for me. My team of 4 has always had my back. They always encourage me when I’m weak. They keep me motivated and focused. They never let me quit or give up. They show me unconditional love and support. When the rest of the world says, “you can’t” they say, “yes you can!” And “you will”. Even if I never receive any credit for all I’ve done, I’ve already won by having such an amazing group of people by my side. A group that has allowed me to explore my art for as long as it takes, without judgment or negativity. I’m so thankful for my family that it’s difficult to express my appreciation in words. I’m content knowing that even if no-one ever publicly acknowledges my influence, the positive influence I’ve had on my kids will always sustain me. They know the real me. They know what I’ve done and for who. My family and God know my heart and my intentions. If I never make a lasting impact outside of my home, at least I’ll be happy knowing I was given the opportunity to follow my dreams. That in itself is a precious gift. I cherish this gift with my whole heart. I was born an artist, and I’ll always be one, whether the world notices me or not.
This is why my accomplishment of twenty two years means so much to me, as well as my family. We know not very many people get to actually do something they love in this life. And we know most of the people where we’re from never even have the opportunity to simply live. The fact I’ve made it this far in life is a sad, but very true, miracle.
As I’ve done in the past, I will dedicate this anniversary to all the Black people who were never given a chance. To all my people that never made it out, that are still a part of the struggle, I’m right there with you. Don’t ever let anyone, especially someone that hasn’t lived your experience, tell you what you can or can’t celebrate. Celebrate every win! Celebrate every moment, every accomplishment, every move you make towards evolution and progression. Keep your dreams alive, and always believe in yourself! Even if no one gives you your flowers. Let your belief in the Most High along with the belief in yourself carry you forward with peace and love. Do what you love out of love and you will NEVER lose!
As for my foreseeable future, I will continue putting in the work. I’ve accomplished many of the goals I initially set for myself, but there’s definitely more I want to achieve. Early on I wanted to work with celebrity clients, and I’ve reached some of those goals. But over the years my priorities have shifted along with my personal interests. I’ve switched my style over time to reflect those changes. My mission now is, simply to do what I love to support myself and my family. I want to be granted the same opportunity to succeed as any talented white artist. I to want spend the rest of my journey traveling, making new work, making books, prints, and having my art exhibited in galleries. That’s all.
Until then, the story continues…
The Return Of Autumn
It’s no secret that fall is my favorite season, but now this time of year has taken on a whole new meaning.
Living in the desert for the past 4 years has made me both miss and appreciate the fall even more. Living in an area that doesn’t reflect any of the wonderful characteristics of the season makes me reminisce on a time when the beauty of fall was just outside my door.
With that being said, I’d like to share a few of my favorite fall memories, in hopes of creating more someday soon.
World Photography Day
Happy World Photography Day!
In honor of World Photography Day I wanted to share a few of my favorites. I started my career as a film photographer over 20 years ago, so I’m very happy with the resurgence of film photography. I took a few lo-res scans from some years back and decided to jazz them up to post on my social media accounts.
If you’re a photographer, how are you celebrating today? Will you be out in the field? Will you spend the day editing or working on a project? Or will you spend the day relaxing?
However you decide to spend today, I hope that you can reflect on your love for photography and have a great day!
Happy 11th Blogging Anniversary!
Happy 11th Year Blogging Anniversary to me!!!
I never would’ve imagined back when I first started this site that over a decade later I’d still be going strong. I’m thankful I have this blog site as another outlet to share my thoughts and creativity.
Huge thanks to WordPress.com for creating a space where myself, as well as others, have an opportunity to express ourselves regularly.
And I would like to personally thank all of the people who have supported my blog through the years. Any and everyone who has read, liked, commented, followed, or interacted with me through this blog, thank you! I truly hope that this blog has helped you make some kind of connection to my work, whether here, on my social media accounts, or on my website.
Thank you to my family for the constant love and support! I don’t know how I would’ve made it this far without you? I love you!!!
I love photographing nature! The desert is a totally interesting place, with a unique and beautiful array of plants, flowers, and wildlife. I try to get out to experience as much of the desert landscape as I possibly can. Of course the summer and fall months can be a huge challenge because of the intense weather conditions. But once the winter months roll in the desert becomes a vast, exciting, photographic feast. There is also plenty of danger around every corner that you must be cautious of as well. I was once told by a local when I moved out here that, “everything in the desert is out to kill you!” I’m definitely careful whenever I venture out into the unknown.
Below are a few of my favorite photos from my most recent outing. As soon as it cools off outside I plan on taking many more trips to discover all of the new and fascinating hidden gems this expansive environment has to offer. Enjoy!
Happy Birthday To Me!!!
A Happy Birthday self portrait. A day of reflection and celebration.
All praise is due to God for allowing me to see another day, another year. I’m thankful for my life, my family, friends, and all of my many blessings.
Thank you to the Most High!!!
Happy Father’s Day 2022
Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads everywhere!
Being a father has been the greatest joy of my life! My children fill me with happiness, laughter, and love. They aren’t only my kids, but my best friends. I love them with every fiber of my being. They always make sure to make my day special.
Kids, I love and appreciate you!
Here they are back when they were tiny, being silly just to make us laugh 🙂
Happy 23rd Birthday Ameera!!!
Happy Birthday to my first born child. My little Angel. I love you!!!
P.S. I miss you being this tiny because, you were such a little funny character. I pray that someday you’ll get to experience the same joy that I feel as your father with a child of your own. And I hope they’re as funny as you were! 😉
Sundown In Nevada
“Sunsets are nature’s paintings across the sky“
-Robert N. Jones
Happy 21st Birthday Son!
The little Prince is now a full grown adult. I officially have no babies anymore. Excuse me while I go cry in the corner! This milestone is both joyous and emotional. Anyone with grown kids knows exactly what I’m feeling right now.
I love you Prince! Now let’s go celebrate!!! But first, let me embarrass you a little bit 😉