Wednesday, August 31, 2011

THE STARTING POINT (before digital-before photoshop)

my self portrait wearing my photoshoot overalls. I wore these at almost ever photoshoot because they were roomy and had lots of pockets for film and stuff...

I was looking back at  my work when I began to take a serious interest in photography. I took college courses at Southwest Community College and the University of Memphis at the same time. The Southwest professor ( Mrs. Lechman) allowed me stretch and experiment. I studied all the greats - Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Gordon Parks, George Hurrell, Albert Watson, and so many more - through books and magazines. I was shooting with a 35mm Pentax K1000 film camera and photoshop didn't exsist.

 I didn't have professional equipment.. In the beginning I used construction lights  and clamp lights like the ones pictured above...

I look at young photographers today and look at all the advance technology today and how they are so dependent on photoshop and retouching to make their images come alive. They "need" a team of artist, makeup, hair, stylist and retouchers to successfully create a fashion image. I didn't have none of that (still don't). I didn't have photoshop to cover up things I didn't know or a model's imperfections. I had to work with people with good bodies and great skin and learn how to use light, shadows, and composition properly.

I look at new photographers work and  haveta remind myself what my work looked like in the beginning. I thought I was the coldest muthafuxah with a camera in Memphis (thus the name ice-itsocool).

 .... the following images are some of the examples of what my work looked like when I started.

these are from my first photoshoot. My besy friend , Dawn Jones Kimble, was my model for a class assignment to capture a sense of place. Everyone in class just lazily snapped images of campus life...I wanted to incorporate my love for fashion into the assignment. We rode the city bus downtown , in the cold rain to do my first "fashion" shoot. to this day  these shots are some of my favorite images...

I was lucky to have a best friend who modeled for me. She taught me makeup tricks and different posing techniques that i still use today. The most important thing she taught me was to trust myself.... and trust my artistic vision.

This David "Bama" Pipkin with my assistant Tiffany Jones. Bama was my 1st male model and I remember  telling Tiff that I wanted to shoot a guy but I didn't know any  with interesting looks. I was very shy and I was afraid to walk up to a stranger and ask him to shoot with me. She scanned the room, picked one she liked and  walked up to him and boldly told him that her sister was gonna pick him up that Saturday at noon to shoot with me. They eventually married and had a daughter. She passed away shortly after having her. - This picture also sparked my interest in showing images of black couples in a loving way....(something i rarely saw)

I have had a natural ability to draw and paint since childhood and I have always tried to apply my artistic abilities into  the images i created.  Many times I incorporated the drawings and paints in the images.

I didn't have professional models at my disposal, only my friends and my classmates.  I taught myself to work with people of all different body types, color tones, and communicate with very different personalities. They allowed me to experiment with different techniques to figure out what works and what doesn't.

my goal was to make beautiful images and  help show  the greatness I saw in people who were close to me.

one of the coolest things I learned was the power of fashion and art to transform people. I found this tall and pretty 16 year old  Erica Carroll and with the help of  my friend , Malaika who did hair and makeup for me sometimes, we transformed her  into a sexy glamazon. I think  the experiences she had working with me and my crew completely changed  the way she saw herself  forever...I know it changed the way our friends saw her. 

Every now and then I haveta step back and look at some of the work I did in the beginning to remind myself why  I want to do this. The work I did in the beginning has inspired the approach I have on the way I do things today. It is real easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of industry bullshit. Everything I have done is my steps towards creating some kind of truth for myself and the people who enjoy my work. 

 I know  my work has  changed a lot since the first time i picked up a camera, but it does hold a special place thats  just as strong ( on some levels even stronger) in my heart. My work has always been personal for me....i make a personal commitment to everyone who steps in front of my lens and thats been the double edge sword I proudly carry.


  1. LOL !!! You look so different in the first one ! haha bout to beat somebody's ass I like it. This should be on the wall.