How did you get your start in photography?
My start in photography is a sad story. I had a son born in March of 2013, and he passed away two days later. I was in a dark place mentally, and emotionally. I discovered the VSCO app, and I got into looking at the pictures via the #vsco hashtag on Instagram. In 2014, I started shooting with the iPhone. I would walk around Philly for hours and take pictures of the buildings. People began to contact me asking how much I charged and I didn't even own a professional camera. I got my first camera in March of 2014, and I've been shooting ever since.
Would you say photography became a unique way to mourn?
Definitely. My IG name [ksh].peace is my son's initials so, through his passing, photography was a form of therapy for me. I internalize a lot of my emotions. I believe photography became my coping mechanism. My grieving process translated through my photos. I looked at my feed and realized a lot of my pictures could appear very dark and moody.
How would you describe your photography style?
Moody, melancholy, sometimes gloomy. Philadelphia is a very “blue-collar” town, and I try to incorporate a lot of that into my photos.
Where do you draw inspiration for your photos?
Music plays a big part in my editing process. Sometimes I am inspired by a song, a conversation with a friend, a movie or documentary I have watched. I also keep notes on my phones of ideas that I would like to create.
What have been some of your favorite projects?
I have been blessed to have a lot of friends who have different projects and brands. I am currently working with a young brand designer in Philly, and we have been meeting with various designers and collaborating on conceptual designs. I enjoy shooting my friends and coming up with fresh concepts. The goal is to do fashion/lifestyle photography.
What other photographers have influenced you the most? How has their influence shaped your craft?
When it comes to portraits, I like Carrie Mae Weems, Gordon Parks, and Roy DeCavara. I love the way they can capture moments in their community and convey a story in a very simple manner. Fashion wise, Steven Ezell, he doesn't care about what's cool, he just does what he wants.
What is your personal process to capture a great photo?
Street photography is all about timing. Being able to improvise and wait for the right moment. Sometimes it might take 20 to 40 minutes to get the shot you see in your head, but it's worth the wait. With my earlier work, I rushed a lot just to get it done. Now, I place more focus on composition and placement to capture a good picture.
What is your favorite lens?
Sigma 35mm 1.4.
35mm is perfect for me because the focal point is not too tight, not too wide and it is good for landscape.
What are some of the challenges you face as a photographer?
Being that I'm self-taught, there are times I get discouraged trying to figure out how to do things. Any creative wants to be excellent at what they do, but it takes more time when you are self-taught. Your first stuff is going to suck, but if you stick with it, you will get better. You have to put the time in and not worry about what the next person is doing. I am working on being a better photographer, a better creative, and a better person. I have to trust the process.
What is your dream project?
My dream brand to work with would be Adidas. I have been a huge fan, before Kanye, I was rocking Adidas. I would also like to shoot a big festival.
What quote or mantra do you live your life by?
Never talk yourself out of your dream.
When we are kids, we have all these dreams. As we grow up, we have a way of talking ourselves out of those dreams. I know what I want, I know how I want to live, and I'm going to put in the work to get me there. Even if it takes me twenty years, I will get there.