Exhibition : OCELOT

OCELOT‘ : a digital exhibition dissecting my career throughout the years, is showing until May 25th at Mirror Mirror Gallery, an initiative by Banded Purple & Studio Brutus.
I’ve felt an overwhelming distance from photography/creative endeavours during this pandemic, (read ‘Creation in Isolation’ below for more on that) so I had inhibitions about doing any form of digital exhibition. After considering it more, I decided that an exhibit that allowed me to highlight what I’ve tried to achieve through my work could be a good reference point for other photographers who are in the current stage of navigating where they fit. I’ve managed to dabble in various stylistic approaches while still maintaining visual synchronicity and a clear intention/pursuit with my work (regardless of how I take the photo it always feels like me). So if this exhibit could help anyone get closer to that understanding of self, I am totally satisfied. The exhibit consists of three sections that I’ve broken down below, view the full exhibit here. Thank you again to everyone who made this possible.

LYCRA

My initial response to breaking free from the ideals I’d been conditioned to adhere to. ‘Lycra’ represents fluidity—breaking from the stillness of existing within predetermined thought process. My observations beginning to take new form through understanding of my sight and learning to translate ephemeral moments.

GUILE

Guile represents the use of new knowledge to my advantage, photography beginning to act as my total outlet, understanding what I wanted to convey, gaining control and that control leading to synchronicity between mind and creative pursuit

VALOUR

Valour indicates the courage to fully succumb to my inhibitions without them becoming a crutch. A state of trust, trusting my capabilities, my intent, my dialogue and entering each project with a pure heart that no longer creates from a place of fear.

The AGO : Artists Talk

This was the biggest milestone of my career- (if I can speak candidly) I’ve found that (in this city) I’m an enigma so to speak- I’m grateful to have carved a path for myself through determination, discipline, relentless work ethic and without handouts but there are times when my resolve waivers and it feels like an endless cycle of being misunderstood.

To be recognized and given this platform, at an institution of this nature was such a blessing and I am forever grateful to Annie for the opportunity. Thank you to Anupa for being the best person I could have had his dialogue with.

For a few hundred people to give their time to share space/exchange energy with me was something I’ll never forget. Seeing my mother, step father and sister sitting front row warmed my heart in ways I can’t explain (they’ve never been to any exhibitions or lectures I’ve done). Having most of my friends check off the time and date to make sure they were there for me to show support (and the countless messages from friends who couldn’t be there) was a gift I didn’t know I needed. Before ‘breaking through’ in photography/really knowing anything about the art world, I was a courier and would deliver paper to the AGO in awe- I never thought I would be on a stage in the building doing an artists talk.

Oh lastly, thank you to my dear friend Akua who talked me out of a mini spiral I had in the uber on the way to the AGO. I’m quite sure of myself overall but suddenly in third person the very burden of ‘being’ became a weight I didn’t think I could bare and my old anxiety returned in an attempt to cripple me. Thank you Andrew, you know why and thank you Chiara for giving me lip balm before I went on stage lol, I desperately needed it.
Thank you to every single person who sent an email, a DM, greetings after the talk or well wishes from afar. As dark as it’s been I never thought I could be a light for others.

The AGO : Capturing the Ephemeral

On the heels of my Artist’s Talk at the Art Gallery of Ontario (!), I did a photo essay dissecting a few pieces of my work. Matthew had the idea to skip the formal interview and instead approach this from a point introspection. I’ve found that I don’t enjoy talking about myself very much, so this was a welcomed change of pace. You can read the photo essay here.

Salomon Advanced

It’s about 1PM on Monday and I get a text from Liam asking if I want to go the desert in two days for a project he’s doing for Salomon, I answer yes, move around some other shoots I had planned and text back asking ‘what does one wear to the desert?’. I’ve been before but being in LA for a month under the notion of ‘vacation’ I was severely under packed lol.

Liam used thermal imaging to track Ryan as he navigated the terrain while Dom manned the drone (click above for the video scored by Jiin). I took a bunch of BTS throughout the day and assisted where necessary- I took these photos sheerly to have tangible memories I could hold on to.

A bit of context – Liam is one of my closest friends, he moved to LA a couple years ago and every time I’m there we make a point to hang out. We’ve been unsuccessful for the most part tbh, we’ve had momentary joy but this trip we were able to have a plethora of experiences together (I’ll probably do a full trip recap soon).
We spent the entire day in the desert, I watched the sun glisten against rocks soaked from day old rain and the moon bathe silhouettes in blue.

Interview : Camera Buyer ITALIA

‘Othello Grey & Fashion as an Element to Realize Oneself‘ glowed across my screen- the only source of light at 1 AM, as google translate finished reconfiguring words. I smirked, admiring how the title summarized my thoughts. Intrigue.. various levels of intrigue, always take centre stage when I read interviews I’ve done. I mean- to be in a position of having a voice that people desire to hear is something I couldn’t have ever imagined for myself. But the idea of someone else processing that information and ‘labelling’ it with an intro line/title is quite thrilling. Sharing myself and giving someone else the room to give it context is quite a unique experience.

With all that said – read the interview I did with Camera Buyer Italia here. I don’t recall a time that I answered so many fashion related questions, as I operate inside the world of fashion but never view it as the guiding force. This also may be my first international interview, I’ve been doing this for so long now I can’t remember anymore lol… ~aging~

i-D – Bambii “NITEVISION” Video

Following the single came the video(!!), which premiered on i-D – along with an in depth interview. I don’t know if I need to say that I took that photo, I guess its obvious lol (?).
Tbh Bambii’s interviews are always extremely insightful, adding Hazel as the interviewer created the perfect marriage. Read it here and watch the video above.
Oh I was also on set, adding whatever bits of guidance I could while documenting the club scene. This also led to me making an unexpected cameo- I had no intention of being in the video but Bambii (seeing the vision more clearly) insisted I did. I naturally oppose presenting myself over my body of work- so I’m happy she encouraged me to be in the video, I would have regretted if I didn’t.
Here are some of the photos from the day- it was a pleasure to capture this energy in a contained space, many times over the course of my life I’ve felt this euphoric freedom at parties- this may be one of the first times I’ve photographed it (The first set of photos is a shoot Bambii and I did a couple days before the video- we’ve done a lot of shoots lol) .

The Fader – Bambii “NITEVISION”

First thing I want to say is, I love Bambii. I’m sure I said that in previous posts and I guarantee I will express that again.

Alright, so Bambii put out her first(!!) amazing single- (NITEVISION) and it premiered on The Fader. We shot the press images (with MUA by the phenomenal Rahnell) in maybe 2 hours in studio on a sun soaked afternoon. We laughed, joked about things that I can’t remember and she roasted me for licking my lips too much, as usual.

Read the article and listen to the song (or above) which she produced and features Pamputtae.

FLEET – Craig Green SS2020

Component, Simile, Persuasion and this editorial relieved an urge I had to do more studio shoots. I didn’t have any specific direction for this shoot beforehand- I knew two things – 1 : the garments spoke to me in forms 2: they would look wonderful on Tré. The shoot turned into Tré and I examining small moments in between immediate instinctive actions. Both of us doing the poses and pausing to find the actions that felt best on camera.
After reviewing the shoot, I had a thought – ‘in regards to what I felt – it was a fleet of emotions, many which I could not describe in words, a rather peculiar state to exist in, I mean to say -the ability to feel but not to explain what I feel“.
I was analyzing what these small actions transcribe emotionally, what do these instinctive actions say about us? I thought about the awareness to understand what our bodies are saying when they move outside of our conscious will. I’m always in an investigative role when I’m taking photos, through my work with Nomad I’m able to attach that investigation to different designers.

A.P.C. X Carhartt WIP

When I hear the name A.P.C. I think ‘timeless’. Through all my various interactions with the brand over the years – whether that was seeing Paolo Roldan wearing the most insane aged pair, being too thick to fit my legs in Petite Standards (lol) or cursing the brands very existence after seeing a picture Jene standing in front of a group of white models with a sign that read “Last Ni***s In Paris”- that thought ‘timeless’ remained true. 5 Years later- the machine that is fashion moves on, apologies are made, people forget/forgive and here I am shooting an A.P.C. x Carhartt capsule collection.

As soon as I saw the collection all I thought about was shooting it in the most relatable way- no set design, no dramatic lighting, nothing over the top or overtly extravagant. ‘Sell it’ without ‘selling it’, allow the viewer to understand how the pieces fit into their lives without them having to overthink it.

So that was us (Micheal, Moya, Chiara) at Michaels house for an hour and a half hanging out and shooting a few rolls. Easy enough, right?

COMPONENT

The gap between this AFFIX editorial for Nomad and the last one is far more vast than it seems but most of what proceeded is in the editorial section.
I’ve spent large moments nearing the end of 2019 truly hurling myself into my existence. For far too long I’d ignore anything outside of the pursuit of improving my craft and it felt like the time to shift that approach.
I’d go untethered- I wouldn’t prioritize escaping social settings in order to ‘work’ (or on account of social anxiety which I managed to overcome after years of discomfort). Mind you I’m a workaholic and would still withdraw and enter that focused place but not with the same ruthless attentiveness. Also I’d never underperform on any occasion due to this, I just needed to be more fluid.

Okay so I street cast Aidan- I see the AFFIX garments, I see him, I see this natural juxtaposition. There wasn’t much more than that, I explained it to the team, they questioned it a bit but honestly I already saw the vision and had to override any second guesses.

A necessary aspect of having an idea that isn’t ‘moodboardable’ is to know how whats in front of you will translate into a photograph, understanding how the pieces you have will communicate in an image. I’ve learned how to do this through tireless trial and error, honing in on the specifics of skin tones, silhouettes, lighting, how clothes fall and drape etc. The full knowledge of what goes into an image allows me to see the full scope of what will be before I ever take a photo.
Phew, who wants more Ted Talks?

G L E E M by Freddy Carrasco

So one of my favourite visual artists and my very close friend, FREDDY BREADY as I like to call him– wrote and illustrated this absolutely phenomenal graphic novel titled ‘G L E E M’. From it’s inception he’d show me the process, ask for my opinion and generally just have dialogues about it all. I was so honoured to have played any part it in at that point .. then he says he’s doing animated trailers and -at the time him being one of the only people knowing that I make music- he asked me to score these animated trailers. Obviously I said yes. Links to trailers on each screenshot.

‘G L E E M’ is out now, you should get it and read it- it’s three thrilling tales centred around various issues with black characters taking the lead. A far cry from what I’d grown up seeing in any sort of graphic novel, comic book or the like. I don’t want to give a review because theres an amazing one you should read that exists already.
Watch the trailers with sound on, hit me and let know what you think of the score. Oh and I’m releasing my LP soon :3.

SCREW ENT.

I’ve got a lot to say here, so bare with me.
My brother Tobin (who I love and adore), has been making some of the best graphic t’s/sweaters/shorts I’ve owned for a very long time. His archive of references is astounding, I wish I could access information in my mind the way he does. His ability to translate those references into new tangible ideas is fascinating- something I’ve taught myself how to do with photography, so I can truly appreciate the amount of effort it takes to develop that skill. I could write a entire dissertation on the subject – ask me more in person if you want to chat.
This post is long over due- BACK IN APRIL 2019! (it’s feb 2020 now, clearly there are large gaps in my updates, due to working diligently, necessary detachments from the digital in order for self preservation, saving the best moments of my life for myself etc.) we were hanging out and he asked me if I ever modelled- I shyly responded ‘no ones ever asked me to’ and thats how this picture came about lol. He’s a beast with the P&S but won’t admit it.

We’ve worked together in many capacities- I shot a Screw ENT. editorial a few years ago, I shot footage for a short film he premiered last December and if you go through the editorial section to ‘Slate‘- the last frames are Tobin’s bike. He pulled up after riding all day as the gracious human being he is and let me shoot David sitting on it.

He did a pop up on a ice cold day last September, we hung out all evening, he didn’t know I had my Fuji on me, I surprised him and took some flicks then we went to Harrys (RIP) for some burgers and drinks, a great night before he left the city again.

Exercises in Doubt

Shot the AFFIX SS19 collection for Nomad, under the title ‘Exercises in Doubt’. Human, is what I wanted to convey from this shoot- I often use that word to describe the ‘fashion editorials‘ I do. It’s in reference to the idea of nothing feeling too far from the viewer, I wanted the reactions to be A: I could’ve taken that photo B: I could’ve worn that outfit C: I could’ve styled this. I wanted it to be so relatable that it appears effortless- but add small touches such as jacket floating off body- that it had another layer of intrigue.

WCROW® – FUTURE NOSTALGIA

WCROW® and I were back together to shoot their FUTURE NOSTALGIA collection ahead of its release.
I slept 2 hours the night before and we shot for about 14 hours- I remember hitting the brink of exhaustion and as I felt myself tapping out, I entered a surreal state of nirvana. I definitely won’t use those means to enter that state again but it was wonderful to feel that in any capacity. Oh I can also confidently say none of us were sick of each another by the end of the shoot and if we weren’t friends forever prior to this day, we definitely were after lol.
Thanks to everyone who took part and to my guys Devante and Gennelle who Vince brought on to assist (they also took the BTS shots at the end of this post), top 10 assistants I’ve ever had.

BABY KOJO – PERFECT

My baby brother Kojo released his single ‘Perfect’ which I shot the cover art for- I’ve known Kojo for maybe 6 years? It was like I stepped into a time portal when I stumbled across a photo of him on my VSCO (which I haven’t used in a very long time). Needless to say I’m proud of him, I’m months late in posting this- he’s released his entire project at this point. A soundscape for the inquisitive, familiar yet new. WGM is my favourite right now, whats yours?

WCROW® AW19-1 : STALEMATE

My good friends Vince and Tomo of WCROW® released their AW19 collection at Nomad.

The idea for the editorial came to me in a dream, I had a vision about ‘points of contact’, I’d capture that slight moment when one person is being tackled by another and they’re in stasis. That place where two bodies are no longer their own- imagine when you’ve fallen or you’ve been struck and you can’t recall what you saw when it happened. The world spun, your body gave in, you’re left in the aftermath. I titled the editorial ‘Stalemate‘ to represent that space where nothing can be gained or lost.

To be quite candid I have my own criticisms of how I handled the photography, ask me about them in person and we can have a talk about spur the moment decision making and what should or shouldn’t be prioritized on a shoot.
Thank you to Jonah and Jasmine for tackling one another for 40 minutes with me on a chilly day haha, love you both.

BETTER™️ / Shaun Crawford for DSM

For Dover Street Market’s 15 Year Anniversary Better™️ and Shaun Crawford came together to create a capsule collection dubbed ‘Monochromatic Market’. Hand dyed Gitman Vintage and Carhartt pieces each dawning their own unique qualities.
I popped by to see my guys on a sun glazed fall afternoon and shot the collection on Max. I also shot the collection on my brother Liam while he was in town prior- unfortunately my T4 wasn’t cooperating that night so most of the flicks of him were unusable (with that said I still regret selling it lol).

CHARLOTTE DAY WILSON – Mountains

It’s January 2nd, it’s been about 4 months since Charlotte released her single ‘Mountains‘, tbh my life has been a bit of whirlwind since. Sitting here reflecting on life when we shot this it feels as though so much has changed. So many more experiences taking precedent over joys and ills of the past.
With that said, I’m stoked to have shot this cover- I vividly remember Charlotte sending the demo and the flood of emotions I felt upon first listen. We’ve got a lot more imagery coming out that we’ve been working on and I can’t wait to share it with you.

i-D

I was blessed with the opportunity to shoot Caribana for i-D‘s ‘straight up’ series. I haven’t been to Caribana in maybe 9 years or more, it was interesting to be in the setting again as an entirely different person. It was amazing to meet so many new people during the interview process and run into a lot of friends along the way. I also ran into my sister who was so shocked to see me there lol, as I’ve been teased as the ‘least Jamaican’ or ‘most Canadian’ in my family my entire life. All thanks to Hazel for making this happen!

ANGAER FOR SUKEBAN

Styling/MUA + Hair by Summer Ellis (who pretty much creative directed the shoot along with me too). The first of hopefully many projects Summer and I get to do together. We wanted to take a lot her archive pieces from Comme/Issey/Yohji and set them with Angaer against a stark hotel in the middle of nowhere, an unusual setting for such prestigious garments. Full editorial soon.

FORMULAS

On August 1st, I did a lecture at Artscape Daniels Launchpad titled ‘FORMULAS: Deconstructing Self’, released my first photo book “PULSE” and had a listening party for the EP I’ve been working on. Moderated by my brother Michael Nyarkoh, installation by Alyssa Alikpala. The lecture was a dialogue on the importance of deconstructing self in order to attain growth and various formulas for approaching this deconstruction. I gave so much of myself that night that I was emotionally/mentally empty, a week or so later I still haven’t entirely processed my emotions- but the root is joy. My music is very dear to me so to abruptly share it with so many people was jarring. I wouldn’t have it any other way though.

I plan to continue this lecture at different venues, my music will be coming out soon and there are a few copies left of my photo book. I’ll be posting when and where they’ll be available- if you’re curious now you can send me an email and we can chat. Thanks to everyone that was involved and thank you to anyone that shared the space with me. Event photos by Nyaomi.

NIA CENTRE – ON OUR BOOKSHELF

I conceptualized a book donation program for the Nia Centre for the Arts alongside Executive Director Alica. When I visited the Nia Centre for our exhibiton “Eglinton Cityscapes : New Persepectives on Home” Alica showed me their growing library- I was in the process of moving at the time and thought about all the books I had (that I love but would part ways with for the right reason) and how this would be a great opportunity to share information/inspiration with emerging black artists that use the space.

We ran into each other a few months later and came up with the idea of having artists donate books and being interviewed on why they chose said books to donate. I donated Shaniqwa Jarvis’ self titled photo book. Read the interview below.

Q:Why did you choose this book?
I chose Shaniqwas’ book because her work is a great identifier for black photographers as it spans across many different orbits. Her existence as a black female photographer (whose dealt with sexism, racism as well as being under appreciated/undermined) is a revolutionary act in itself- the fact that she’s persevered and made timeless work for over 20 years is exciting and inspiring. I want this book to be among other black artists who may need a reminder when their creative professions/pursuits become stifling and we forget there are reference points out there for us that have laid guidelines on how we can operate. Beyond race as a qualifier, she’s found a way to translate various realms of photography (personal, commercial, fashion, fine art) in a very fluid and personal way. It’s an amazing book that highlights the various ways a photographer can approach their style and that they don’t have to flow in any specific stream.

 Q: Why should Black artists read this book?
Shaniqwa is an amazing photographer first and foremost, that’s the main reason I chose this book. Ultimately, I hope it encourages black artists to further dive into her story and learn about the obstacles she faced and how she’s managed to overcome them. And also recognize that her story is one of many and that whatever they’re facing isn’t unique, there are others who have dealt with similar challenges and not to feel like they need to tackle any of it alone. Walk towards people who support and uplift you wholeheartedly, give what you can when and where you can, make sure your heart and intentions are pure and continue to grow.

Q:How did it help your artistic practice?
It helped me understand the scope of where photography can be taken and generally was thrilling to own a book from such an amazing black woman.

Q: What your favourite quote or line?
There’s no text, but my favourite photo is the cover photo which Shaniqwa took of her niece, styled in her clothes and using her phone

BETTER GIFT SHOP + SHAUN CRAWFORD

Okay – Better Gift Shop released their run of summer t’s as well as their collaboration with artist Shaun Crawford (Corpuz drew the dog t shirt and he absolutely nailed it). We had a great day, after the shoot we watched the sunset as purple and pink hues sparkled across the seemingly endless water- minds wandering off individually in unison. Scroll down for portraits of everyone after the shoot to finish my roll (rather then clipping it early).

AUSTERE

I’m extremely proud of my brother Kwame for creating L’oeuvre, I remember him telling me in brief (he’s like me and doesn’t like to harp too much on his ideas in conversation until they’re actualized) about it. It was a pleasure to be able to contribute to his platform and create a beautiful project together. Oh, Kwame is also the first person to buy one of my prints- we’re linked for life at this point lol.

Mia Carucci, Kali Jorja Tour

Spent the day with my extended family Mia Carucci on the last day of her tour alongside Kali Uchis and Jorja Smith. It was amazing to be in the presence of/meet so many extraordinary woman and watch them all give surreal performances.

Reading Materials

There’s fresh hell every day. Morning, afternoon, and evening we’re invited to look at something horrible, if we’re lucky; most often, this violence arrives without warning or consent. And that’s just the news. Art has its own knives and hammers, and it’s a long-held belief among many artists and critics that we the audience must be shocked into a better apprehension of our reality. But what do we gain by absorbing these blows? What can we learn by turning away?

Ross Scarano

A few friends had been asking me for book recommendations prior to this shoot being published. I started with the excerpt from the phenomenal write up by Ross because it sets the entire tone beyond just my photos tbh. To anyone looking for a new/or a few new books to dig into, here’s Reading Materials Part 4 for SSENSE, hope you enjoy. Also full spread in the editorial section.

BAMBII

Shot this phenomenal human being @bam_bii for her new mix for @indiemagazine, styled by @bypseudonym. Bambii has always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I have flashbacks of sparse interactions before we knew each other as well as we do now, where she would reaffirm my goals and urge me to proceed. Listen to the mix, it’s amazing, DM her on instagram and tell her you love her and tell her she’s amazing for everything she’s done thus far and will continue to do.

ASICS TIGER

I was blessed with the opportunity to partner with ASICS Tiger from June to December 2018 as an ambassador (The Chicago Lollapalooza post a few scrolls down was a prelude to this), creating photos and short videos that lived online. For a large portion of my career I’ve tried to highlight my very talented friends as much as possible, so it was amazing to bring them on board and place them in familiar/relevant settings. I wanted everything I created to feel very human and natural, not overproduced or selling you a product. Just a glimpse of the ASICS tiger brand in relatable settings. You can see the short videos on my instagram highlights and for a snippet from the ASICS Tiger introspective panel discussion that brought this to life (ASICS Tigers first ever Canadian event) click here.

W.CROW

My brothers Tomo and Vince launched W.CROW late last year and I was blessed to be able to shoot the first collection- titled OPEN HOUSE. I remember having a conversation with Tomo two years ago on the patio of my old apartment when W.CROW was still an idea, him telling me he definitely wants me to be apart of the visual process and explaining the ideologies and direction. To be present and able to take part in its actualization means more to me than I can put into words. Full editorial incoming soonEditorial now live. Shop the collection here– you will not be disappointed.

GLOBE AND MAIL

I had the honour of shooting Michael Lee Chin, billionaire and philanthropist for the Globe and MailsReport on Business‘ Magazine.

Being of Jamaican descent and knowing the struggles my parents faced before coming to (and while in Canada) it was inspiring to meet someone who shared that narrative and reshaped its usual outcome. To see someone who looked like me take up space in a position that you don’t often see was beyond inspiring. I implore you to also read the article as his story is very insightful.

Oh and when we greeted each other, I went in for a handshake and he gave me a pound- that spoke volumes.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM? WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

I’ve been really busy as of late, a lot of huge life changes that led to me working more than updating my website. Over the next few weeks I’m going to be updating here and there and letting my website catch up to me.

With that said I was blessed to be able to participate in Myseum of Toronto’s exhibition and panel discussion ‘WHERE ARE YOU FROM? WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” last spring. Having my photos on the jumbotron in the city I grew up and speak on a panel -which I haven’t done in a long time, was an honour.

 

CHICAGO

Lollapalooza marks my first music festival and first time in Chicago- tbh I’m naturally introverted so initially it was a bit of shell shock to be surrounded by so many different energies at once. I overcame it by day 2 but I definitely wasn’t prepared for it off the bat. It was a blessing to be able to experience a music festival this grande at least once in my life time, thanks to my Asics Tiger family for the opportunity.

I didn’t take many pictures but here’s a set of a few moments that I managed to take while trying to not implode lol.

HERON PRESTON X NASA

I had the pleasure of shooting the Heron Preston X NASA collaboration for SSENSE, creative directed and styled by the amazing Romany Williams. One of the best teams I’ve worked with in a long time, you can view the entire editorial here and I encourage you to actually read the write up and not just ‘click click, scroll scroll’.

 

This is probably the most personal interview I’ve done yet- touching on sources of inspiration, purpose and intent. You can read it in full here.