Tag Archives: photography

Frames vs Snapshots

I went on my second Urban Photographers Walk last weekend. Via the Meet Up app, it is hosted by the energetic, immensely talented and delightfully hospitable Ron Louis. I learned about it from my favorite cousin in law last year. It’s a group of photographers at all levels shooting with SLRs, film and cellphone cameras called together by Ron once a month to different places in the Tri State area to take and make pictures. It’s a great thing to be able to do something you love in community. I met a guy there who lives in my building! And he’s an amazing photographer! I would never have known.

This particular walk was in Soho one of my favorite places for taking pictures on perhaps one of the nicest days we’ve had in NYC since Christmas. We visited several photo galleries as part of the walk, the first of which was a framing gallery.

Ron talked about how we should think about printing and framing our own photos and displaying them in our homes. This is something my dad has done for years. Photography has been his passion since before I was born and though it took me years to get the bug myself (I’ve been serious since 2008) I’ve never really taken seriously the idea of framing my images in any but the most generic ways, you know like small frames on my desk or the home coffee table. It made me think about what images I’ve taken that I would consider worthy of large scale framing. This is not me saying that snapshots are not frame worthy. I love snapshots and photos taken on the move. Good street photographers are dope as hell and galleries are full of amazing images that would not have been considered for framing decades ago. But that’s the thing that I’m curious about. Understanding that the process of taking tons of photos may be necessary in order to find two incredible ones is integral for me. I truly believe that among the many, there really are only a few that can tell a story in a way none of the others can. And it’s one of the many things about photography that’s kept me engaged and curious for so long.

Thanks to smart phone technology, the number of people with the capacity to take photos is at its highest and camera phone technology will only continue to improve.

We will take gazillions of photos that we will never even see, let alone look at more than once. But always with photographers, is the fact that on assignment, self given or commissioned, we can take hundreds to thousands of photos and only a small handful will meet the standards we seek or capture what we sought to capture or accidentally reveal something we never even imagined.

Many years ago I did dabble in self publishing photo books from my images at the time but after the Soho walk I created a “Print” album in my phone of images I would consider getting framed.

I have a total of 28,735 “Recents” in my phone album. Presently I have 18 images in my “Print” folder.

This also makes me think more about how I want to be shooting in 2020, for what purpose and also what human subjects I like to photograph and what they inspire in me. I want to think more about what it means to photograph things in a way that I think is  frame worthy. And I want to focus on finding particular spaces and people to shoot for the entire year. I want to give myself more rigorous assignments and push myself more to see what else is there in me besides curiosity.

The Black Erotica Social Media Movement

Let’s not hide from each other. Let’s not cover up what we feel is natural. I want to be free with you. I want you to be free with me. I want to talk, laugh, joke, play and stay in our bare skin for the entire day. Why would we cover ourselves? I find you beautiful and you find me the same. From the soles of our feet to the details of our skin that cover our veins. I see no reason to make you wonder because what you want from me is more than physical. I want to see you as you are. Fully with nothing covering your blemishes or scars. Don’t hide from me and I won’t hide from you…


When I was in High School there was a book of short stories and poetry called Erotic Noir that my BF and I were crazy for. It was this large book of beautifully affirming, liberating self-loving, candid, intimate tales of Black sexiness. It was of course the only book of Black Erotica of I found on the bookstore shelves at the time. There was nothing else to compare it to so it was a very special book for me. That was back in the day when I wrote religiously. I never was and still am not very good at writing about graphic intimacy or sexual experiences and so I would read and immerse myself and admire but I remained uncomfortable with actually writing anything like it.

Thanks White Male Patriarchy.

….actually, no thank you.

But thanks to being raised in a household where I was free to run around naked until I learned to be self conscious, I’ve always been pretty comfortable being naked. But as a Black women however (probably as any woman) it doesn’t matter how comfortable you are being naked. In this world, you learn how to become self-conscious even about being un-self conscious.

Continue reading The Black Erotica Social Media Movement

The Look of Love


parkside3I’m a photographer all of the time and on occasion, I actually have a scheduled photo shoot. This past weekend I took save the date photos for a couple at a local NYC park. The soon to be bride is a close friend of my sister on law. I don’t know if wedding related photography is my thing necessarily, but here’s what I do know. While it certainly does take some skill as a photographer to capture good images of a couple in love, what also makes the photos great is the energy of the couple themselves. When they feel comfortable expressing how they feel for each other in front of the camera, there’s no way that doesn’t transfer to the image. Taking photos of people is always a collaborative and co-creative effort. Depending on the nature of the project, both parties have to be somewhat committed, because the product is always a direct reflection of that.

When I get home and start looking at all the photos I’ve taken on any shoot with clients, I can tell right away if it’s been a success, not just in terms of technique, lighting, or exposure but in the spirit of the entire endeavor. Did the vision in mind translate to the truth of this particular person or people? It’s always good to have a plan and this couple had a clear one. It’s like the plan is a canvas in which to explore the painting,  we don’t really have any idea what the painting will end up looking like. We just have some idea of what we’re going for, and often that’s a feeling right? We’re filling up a raw space with our creativity, using something that’s already been done as a guide, as inspiration. It’s very exciting to me.

I’ve done nuptial related photo shoots only a small handful of times and even though I’m always a bit nervous, the nerves never override the feeling of excitement. Lastly, I have to say that no amount of editing, photo-shopping, airbrushing or cosmetics can take the place of the core energy of people in a photo. All these things can help the vision along but if the spirit isn’t there, there’s no there there. In my experience so far, if the energy  and the vision is there, than for me, as the photographer, almost half the work is already done.


“Who Shot Sports?” Javan Emory

What I really loved about this exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum was the story told about each photo, about each photographer and about how and why they made or captured the photo. I was able to spend a good amount of time with most all the images, looking at them and then reading about them which gave me a deeper understanding about the historical context, the photographer’s views and the reasons  why each photographer worked within the genre of sports photography, what they looked for and whose work they were inspired by. I was excited to view this exhibit but I had not been expected to be so absorbed by it. I’m not a sports fanatic in the least but I do love photography and the power behind images that capture the magic and majesty of the sports player in motion and in stillness.

Although I tend to love taking photos of work at exhibitions, particularly those that restrict them, (heh) I went to this one knowing that I wanted to take everything in and not be distracted by the pressure to capture anything at all. So much work had already gone into the images selected for this show. I just wanted to take it all in.

The only photo I did take was of an image in the very beginning of the exhibit of a man named Javan Emory by an anonymous photographer. The monochromatic photo of a Black man with the catcher’s mask on, posed firmly like a tree taken between the 1870s-180s was irresistible to me. The fact that the photographer was unknown made it all the more necessary to sneak a shot, though of course the image can be found by quickly Googling the name Javan Emory.  Here’s what really gripped me when I read the card about Emory.

“Javan Van Emory was a celebrated catcher at a time when catching was dangerous and required real courage. His capabilities as a catcher during an exhibition game for a National League “proved to be so threatening that Major league baseball drew the color line in direct response.” It also goes on to describe that the regard that fans, Black and White had for him was also reflected in the unknown photographers use of dramatic light and composition as well as the “sensitivity to the different techniques required for lighting Black skin which, is modeled by highlight rather than shadow. It is also seen in the photographers decision to pose the subject in a forceful posture with direct eye contact.”

The image itself grabbed me immediately as I walked slowly passed early sports photos wherein players  had to emulate movement to communicate motion at a time when photographic methods was not yet created to capture speed. But the more I read about the image, the man, the dangers of the catchers position in early baseball and the legend of Emory’s skill, the more I loved it. I wondered what kind of man he was and who he could have been as a sports figure if he had not been held back. And I was thankful for the photographer who honorably created this portrait of Emory and allowed his powerful dignity to shine through in one image perhaps the only one that ever existed of Emory, suited up for a sport he clearly had an exceptional talent and passion for.

VSCO: No Liking, No Following

Among many things I dabble in, writing, knitting, crocheting  and more, I’m also a photographer.

I had an interesting conversation with a guy at my job during a casual gathering a few weeks ago about what exactly constitutes dabbling (he loves the word dabble), enthusiast, “Geek”, fan and hobbyist. The discussion of what actually defines a photographer is one that never stops, especially with everyone and their mother out there with a cellphone and access to countless photo apps and filters to apply to each image. There was someone in my FB network who years ago would totally rip into people who shared photos they took with their cellphones and considered it photography or “art.” This person was classically trained in darkroom photography, developed their prints by hand and took great offense to what she felt was the lack of craft that went into most forms of digital photography.


I’ve seen some pretty bad photos that were shot manually and printed in a dark room as well. For me, it’s not the device. It’s the intention.

Which brings me to VSCO.com. Unlike flickr, instagram, dubble, or most any social network image apps, VSCO is about creating and viewing images only. You can follow people, but they will receive no notifications about who is following them and if you have an account there to display your images, you will never receive notifications on who is following you. And you can actively like all you want. But there is no like button, no comment button, nothing. You just post, look, get inspired and repeat. At least that’s what I do. Of course one of the other main points is for VSCO to promote their amazing film preset filters by providing this format to it’s many users. So this is very filmy, photo, geeky business going on here. It pretty much eliminates those who are just looking to rack up “likes” and “followers” for whatever reasons.

Last night I spent a lot of time on Adam Scott’s grid. I don’t know Adam Scott from Adam. I just found his images at random on the VSCO. I love his photos, particularly of kids and babies. I like when there is an emerging theme in people’s work. I’m not sure I have one in mine but I try not focus too much on creating one. I just use my grid to put up what I feel are my best shots.

This Tuesday I met a friend of mine for for lunch who also loves photography. He lent me his fixed prime lens for my Nikon. Someone needs to get me this lens for Christmas because it just makes me see everything differently. Like all of a sudden I can actually capture the beauty I see in everyday things and people and bring them to life. VSCO film preset filters are great for this as well. They really make me remember how much I love the look of film and how the very subtle nuances of those old films really shape my feelings and memories, and perpetually trigger my love for the art of photography.

I admit that as a person who is susceptible to wanting my images liked by faceless strangers on the internet, I often feel like VSCO cuts me off from what might be some critical feedback from some incredibly talented peers. But a community does exist there and their contact information is available. The VSCO grid is very clean and simple and shows only the work without any recorded data of likes or comments or follows. Those things make a huge difference in what people are drawn to looking at these days. The only curated or featured photography spaces on VSCO are those which the team chooses to highlight in it’s journal. Other than that, you’re free to shoot, post and view whatever you like, as long you’re okay with not having a trail of likes or followers behind you.

I’m fine with that.

I have two IG accounts. LOL!!