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!

Something Old, Something New

Growing up in the Residence Park neighborhood of West Dayton my mother always accused me of having an old soul. This was usually related to music which has always been a constant in my life. She’d walk past my room and stick her head in to hear me listening to music from well before my time. Songs from her teenage years. I’ve always had an appreciation for things that managed to stand the test of time.

Being a photographer in this digital age it’s easy to get caught up chasing the latest and greatest gear on the market. This is an expensive “and often unneeded” habit within the photography industry. Early this summer I was at a thrift store and decided to buy an old Super KSX film camera “it was 50% off!” with thoughts of using it to decorate my studio space. The camera came with a roll of film so I decided to test it out. The whole process was stimulating. From the way that it felt in my hands, to fumbling around the old mechanical dials to the unnerving anticipation of waiting to see how the film came out.

Since that time I’ve added an old Nikkormat FTN and an old Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL to my collection of film cameras. The Mamiya/Sekor is special to me because it belonged to my late “and favorite” Uncle. He always had a camera out during family events. I love shooting with the film bodies because it forces me to slow things down and focus on what I’m trying to accomplish.

These old film cameras have sparked a new flame for me. I love the anticipation that comes along with shooting film. There‘s no screen on the back of the camera to show you what you’ve captured. No blinking lights to let you know if your image is under or over exposed. I love the look and feel of images captured on film, especially black and white images with just the right amount of grain so I’ve decided to only use Ilford black and white film and to also develop and process my own film.

So the next time you want to try something new consider something old…

She Didn’t Wanna Work

Bolivar, Tennessee 
 The front porch in the south is the same as a welcome mat, or an open invitation to come over and talk. Mr.Tim came over and introduced himself and went on to talk for well over twenty minutes. 

He talked about everything from the weather, cars, B.B. King and his ex-wife that didn’t want to work.