Senior Style + Balance

by Carri Paschal

Assisting Aaron on his senior photo shoots is really one of my favorite things to do. It’s a great opportunity to get to know the seniors and their parents. Aaron and I make it a point to get to know each and every one of our seniors to make sure every Senior Experience with AP2 Photography is personal and one of the highlights of their senior year.
What I noticed is that Seniors have their own vibe and tend to have the most fun when they are comfortable rocking the styles and fashions they are use to. Whether it’s their favorite pair of jeans, a big comfy sweater, varsity jacket or a graphic tee and a fresh pair of J’s or Timbs.
Fashion sense and comfort always equates to fun and great senior pictures that reflect your style. Feeling bold? For a bit of extra fun, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and tap into your alter ego! Select a color, outfit, hairstyle, accessories or even a lip stick color that is bold and different. Some of our best sessions have been when Seniors explore fashion trends and styles that they see in magazines, fashion blogs, and on TV.So as your prepare your favorite looks for you Senior Experience remember to find outfits that fit your style and personality but also bring your alter ego along for the shoot! We’ll be sure to capture traditional pictures that your family will cherish, your friends will love and get you plenty of “likes” on instagram!

What Does Your Headshot Say About You?

Nothing is more important than a first impression. While smart-phone selfies have their place, they also send a message to the rest of the world on how serious and invested you are to your brand and/or business. A potential client’s decision to do business with you will often be based in large part on your sense of competence and professionalism. It is important that your headshots visually represent you and your brand.Now that websites and social media are a major driving force in businesses large and small, your image is even more important. I recognize your needs and I offer business professionals, entrepreneurs, creatives and anyone trying to establish or rejuvenate their brand, fresh and modern headshots that will represent at their best. If you would like to schedule a session or go over options in greater detail please contact me us at or 937-430-5831.
“What does your headshot say about you?”


Zanele Muholi: Personae (photography gallery)

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

October 10, 2016This past weekend I attended South African photographer Zanele Muholi’s gallery opening: Personae at The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. This two part gallery, Faces and Phases and Somnyama Ngonyama is part of the Fotofocus Biennial Photography – The Undocument Series.To describe Zanele Muholi’s work as captivating is an understatement. Each and every subject on display in her Faces and Phases gallery draws you in with direct/intense eye contact. They made a powerful connection with me that made me feel as if I was somehow connected to them. This exhibit is a collection of portraits that both mourns and celebrates, that documents the resistance and losses in the South African LGBTI communities. The black and white portraits display on the white walls of The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center make a strong statement and I encourage all that can to make the trip to Cincinnati to experience the exhibit firsthand.Before Muholi took the floor to talk about her self-portrait series: Somnyama Ngonyama, meaning “Hail the Dark Lioness” in Zulu, there was a spoken word performance as well as live music and a dance interpretation of Zanele’s photographs. This personal gallery is fascinating in part due to Muholi intentionally darkening or lightening her complexion throughout images to touch on how people throughout the world tend to covet lighter skin. By embracing her own blackness Muholi displays pride in her appearance hence the title – “Hail the Dark Lioness.”
While attending the gallery I was also lucky enough to meet Atlanta based fine art photographer Shelia Pree Bright. Shelia and I have been following each other’s work on instagram for over a year now so it was definitely an added bonus to finally meet her and engage in an inspiring conversation about photography, activism, expression and the importance of shooting from the heart. You can view Shelia’s work on instagram (@shepreebright) as well as her website to say I left The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center full of passion and inspiration. Eager and excited to not only capture images but to also capture people’s imagination and attention. Committed to help tell people’s story through images that gives their struggle a voice.


Back to School

I was recently asked to speak to a group of eighth grade students at DECA Middle School. I began by telling the students a little bit about myself and how I got started in photography, about my many sources of inspirations and how photography feeds my soul. I explained to them how my camera often serves as my voice, how it allows me to express how I’m feeling even when I can’t find the words to do so.

Now eighth graders are hard to read… the room was pretty quiet as I was talking so I didn’t know if they were bored out of their minds or simply a well behaved class! When I wrapped up my introduction Mr. Rodriguez opened the floor for questions and I was impressed and inspired by some of the questions that the students asked.

During my introduction I mentioned some of the challenges of learning photography along with some of the mistakes and blunders I had made along the way. This led to one of the students asking “if it was so hard what kept you from quitting?” I explained that I don’t know how to quit, how I enjoy the art/process and challenge of learning something new. That’s something I always knew about myself but never expressed out loud or really gave much thought.

Another student asked if I chose photography to express myself because I was shy or quiet. That caused me to pause because I am somewhat of an introvert and very selective in who I REALLY talk to. Then I went on to explain to the class “and myself that what really drew me into photography was the ability to show people exactly how I feel. How sometimes you have a conversation with someone and you can’t quite find the right words to express exactly what’s on your mind or how you are feeling. Well photography allows me to show them.

One student asked at least five or six questions. I found out afterwards that he’s always quiet and rarely speaks in front of the class. He asked a question that stomped me and one that I had never asked myself before: “what is the most important picture that you have ever taken?” and he clarified, “not the most popular, not your favorite but the most important.” I still haven’t figured out the answer to his question but I promised him I would get back to him with one.

The day finished with a few random questions and me telling the students that no matter what their interest or calling is – there’s inspiration all around them. I suggested that they look into Gordon Parks work and start taking pictures “even if it’s just with their phones,” find their own voice and to get out and just express themselves. One of the female students who earlier asked if I’d be taking their school pictures raised her hand and told me she didn’t know a lot of photographers by name but wanted to make sure that I knew that I was her favorite! We got together for a group picture and a few selfies and I left the school inspired and very impressed with the students!

America – Do Your Job and VOTE!

The tone of this year’s election has been nothing short of disgusting. It’s uncovered the undertones that we all have tried to ignore and/or pretend that we as a nation had moved pass.

And while both candidates leave a LOT to be desired please don’t use that as an excuse to stay home on Election Day. Let your ballot count, especially on your local level. These are the issues and candidates that will impact you the most. And take a long, close look at both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Try to sort through all of the propaganda and smear campaigns and choose the candidate that you feel will best lead our country.

America IS beautiful. Yes, we have our challenges, setbacks, etc. but there is no place else on earth I’d rather live than right here in the United States of America. And with that said it is our civic duty to do what so many before us have fought, bled, died to do – vote.

afropunkfest 2016, Brooklyn

Commodore Barry Park, Brooklyn, New YorkAugust 27-28, 2016

My trip to afropunkfest Brooklyn 2016 began with me not knowing quite what to expect and ended with me planning my outfit, camera gear and logistics for afropunkfest 2017! For those of you that aren’t familiar with afropunk it’s a collection of fashion, music, art, culture and oh yeah… more fashion!

It’s funny how karma works. On this trip I sacrificed my airplane playlist, “The Epic by Kamasi Washington” to talk to an aspiring photographer that just happened to have the seat right next to me. We talked the whole flight. I gave him my contact information and encouraged him to reach out to me with any questions he may have. Well as fate would have it the FIRST person I saw when I got out of our Uber ride was none other than the legendary New York street photographer, Louis Mendes. This man is approaching 80 years old and stays on his hustle! He lectured me about not having my camera out with a portable printer to make money, invited me to go over to Harlem with him on Sunday morning to take in the scene all while greeting each passerby with an infectious smile and an occasional wink of the eye, “usually anybody that had a camera in their hands.”


Once I actually got inside the gates I realized that I underestimated the fashion element of afropunk. There were fashion photographers everywhere and with plenty of worthy subjects to shoot! There were people rocking custom made dashikis, African print head wraps, dramatic hair styles, statement t-shirts, I could go on and on. There was an abundance of stylists, makeup artists, beauticians and bloggers on hand all taking notice of the fashion trends on display at afropunk. 


As far as the music at afropunk Cee-Lo Green and The Internet were my only MUST see acts. Cee-Lo was great and I would go see him again in a heartbeat! The Internet left a lot to be desired. They were just there, no energy at all. Other acts in attendance were Janelle Monae, Ice Cube, Saul Williams, Fishbone, Tyler the Creator, Thundercat and Flying Lotus and they provided a great soundtrack for the weekend.


I’m inspired by art from all different genres and there were some very talented artists at afropunk. Art that makes you think, art that makes you laugh, art that makes you fight back the tears, art that makes you second guess everything you that you’ve ever known. There were artists doing body and face paint, spoken word artists, painters, jewelers, fashion designers, graffiti artists, dancers… the whole gamut!


I have been and will always be intrigued by other cultures. At afropunk you see a little bit of everything. You see people from different cultures, backgrounds, sexual preferences, religions all melting together and having a good time. To call the event tolerant would be a disservice. People were engaging with one another, giving out free hugs and genuinely making sure that everyone they came in contact with was having a good time.

And did I mention there were more than a few photographers in attendance? I had a good time talking shop with them. We talked gear, photography approach, the challenges of shooting afropunk and a few other nerdy things that only fellow photographers could appreciate. I also bumped into some of the photographers that I’ve interacted with on social media throughout the years. 

With all this said my favorite memory of afropunk is creating new ones with my daughter. We had a great time at afropunk and it was our first time seeing each other since she went off to college. As you go through your daily life be careful not to get lost in the grind. In fact make a point to find your passion, to find a way to scratch off something on your list of “things you’d like to do” and then add something new under it. Get out and create memories!

Hope to see you in Brooklyn for afropunkfest 2017!

Class of 2017… It’s YOUR Time!

Class of 2017 you have NO idea how fast your senior year is going to fly by! The first day of school will quickly turn into homecoming, mid-term exams, prom and finally your last day of school and graduation!

Take time to take it all in and enjoy your Senior Experience. It may not seem like it now but your senior year will be something that you will reflect on for the rest of your life. It’s your first major milestone, you and/or some of your best friends that you grew up with and saw just about every day will begin to move across the country.

Be sure to take your class work serious, your grades and overall GPA will play a major role in you attending your “dream school” or getting the job that you want. So have fun but take care of business!

How Quickly Time Flies

How quickly time flies…

Seems like just yesterday I was rushing to the hospital to welcome my first born into the world, now here we are some 18 years later she’s leaving the nest and off to begin her college years at “The Mecca” Howard University.

Where did all the time go? It seems like we should still be laying on the floor with the lights off making shadow figures and listening to music, “she was raised on D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Raheem DeVaughn and well… good music!

 Whether we like it or not our kids will not remain children forever. Time will pass, milestones will pile up and if we as parents have done our job, they will grow into young adults and move forth to claim their place in this world.

Don’t get me wrong… I will definitely miss her, but I’m excited for her to start the next chapter in her life.

I have invited by my daughter “AND afropunk contributor” to attend afropunk  in Brooklyn on August 27-28 so I’ll be seeing her soon so we’ll get a chance to hear good music, vibe with other creative people and more importantly continue to cement our bond. 

How Did I Get Here?

So I’m on a plane with my wife heading to Ocho Rios, Jamaica to photograph a destination wedding and I keep asking myself “how did I get here?” Seriously “how did I get here?”
In 2011, I bought my first “serious amateur” Nikon camera with hopes of taking better pictures as I traveled. I never had any thoughts or aspirations of starting my own business or even taking photography seriously  for that matter. I just enjoyed the challenge of learning something new, the process of growing and getting better each time I picked up the camera. With photography, no matter how long you’ve been shooting or how skilled you are with the camera, there is always a new challenge awaiting you or something new to learn. 

In 2012 I launched AP2 Photography. I’m proud of my business and where I am as a photographer. That doesn’t mean that I’m satisfied or resting on my laurels. And while I challenge myself to not only satisfy but exceed my clients expectations the thing I pride myself on the most is providing them with a great experience. This concept is true to who I am as a person. I love to engaged and connect with people. Which brings me back to “how did I get here in beautiful Ocho Rios, Jamaica?”

Well in the winter of 2014, I met Anna who at the time was graduating from Wright State University and on her way to Law School at Michigan State University. During her “extended” shoot we talked, we laughed, discussed politics and got some pretty dope images along the way. In fact I even promised her a free photoshoot when she graduates from Law School and when she’s elected to public office. Since that time we’ve kept in touch through instagram and have maintained the relationship we formed two years ago.

That relationship is what led me to Jamaica. You see going the extra mile for Anna made an impression on her which led to her referring me to one of her fraternity brothers. From there it was up to me “and my work to seal the deal.” I’ll take those odds every time. So here I am, on the balcony of my room in Ochos Rios, Jamaica. Enjoying time with my wife, taking in the view and wrapping up this blog post. Life is good my friends! Life is Good!