Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Photography: How It All Started

This post is my response to the request of 'Anonymous' who asked if I could write about how I started photography.

But before that, I just wanted to respond to some of the comments regarding the Obama post. Yes, Obama's victory is something very important to Black people because now there is a familiar face that you can relate to and you feel as if there is a sort of commonality and understanding because you can identify with the man who runs your country and affects your world.

But I cannot narrow it down to a victory for just black people. This was a victory for anyone who ever felt like an underdog, to anyone who thought they couldnt fulfil a dream, to anyone who thought it was impossible, to anyone who's been doubted, discriminated, hated, unsupported, taken as a joke and whose lost faith and hope...this was a victory for you. For all of us.
I will never forget where I sat last night while I watched his speech.

Last night proved the world's mentality is changing. Showed our tolerance and acceptance for change and for some last night showed a new risk and gamble we are willing to take as we enter into a whole new era.

Obama represents a lot more than a black man, a biracial man, a man with a muslim name...he represents hope. He represents change. He represents our dreams. He represents maybe one of the greatest achievements in history especially during our generation.

The after effects of last night results will be something very interesting to see.
He's opening the door for us...its up to us to walk through takes more than one man to run a nation. The coach is only as good as his team is...


But anyhow lets get back to my post...

How I started photography.

As a kid, I always had this dream that I would grow up and become a movie star and be famous. lol. I know right.
I never kept a real diary...but it was a diary/journal of sorts.
I figured that if I was going to be famous, they're going to want to write my life story and hopefully make it a movie.
So I took it upon myself to document my interesting days and illustrate the events, surrounds and characters in extreme details.
(the funniest thing about all of this is that I thought the most epic days of my life would take place when I was in grades 5-7 lmao)
Before I would write about the events, I took the time to write headings like "Setting", "Characters", "Date and Time", and "Event".

With settings I would just describe the place, like dimly lit, small space, tiled walls, scracthed square hardwood floors.
Characters was a very funny heading, because I described everyone to the T. lol. I gave everyone a star rating system.
So like if it was a girl, Id make subheadings like "Tits", "Ass", "Face", "Intelligence", "Importantness" and "Overall". I would put 5 stars beside the sub heading if she was great in that category, and none if she wasnt. lol. Kinda shady. But ill explain why later.
Now this may get real homo, but I sorta did the same for guys...except no body parts were involved..."Muscles", "Coolness", "Importantness" and "Overall".
After all this categories, Id write a lil blurb about their personality and how they actually are. Things they often say, or common gestures they would usually do.

Now you guys must be like...why the fuck would you get so damn descriptive? Well let me answer then. Like I said, I felt like one day Id be famous and there would be a movie...I just dont want no one else telling my story especially after Im dead and saying "yea, I was will's friend and I looked like, I was a stud, everyone loved me, I was good in sports."


I have it documented right here that you werent. lol. I wanted all the cast members and characters to be extremely accurate. I didnt it to be like "Loosely based on the story of William Nguyen."
I wanted it to be my story.
So at the age of 11 or so, I was taking it upon myself to properly document my life and my experiences...

Where does the camera come in?

Well...One day in grade 7, one of the girls in our group that I didnt really care for left her bag unattended. My boy goes...hey look, I can see her camera.
And I was like sick...and he hands it to me. I put it in my back pocket. She comes back and asks if anyones seen her camera, and I say I had to get home (which was a lie and they all knew that cuz I never had to be home) lol
But whatever, the next day I come to school using her cam and she's like where did u get that, and im like "none of your beeswax." and I walk away. lol

Shortly after, I started going nuts with the camera. Buying film and going to Wal-Mart to develop pics almost on a weekly basis.
I liked capturing pictures of people doing their not the posing and counting down shit.
I just wanted them to be natural.
Because when I remember people, I dont remember their faces smiling and standing there for me.
Everyone moment in my life served as a frame in my life film. And I wanted whoever that was directing it to really feel for the moment and see what the people looked like and how we interacted.
After awhile, my camera and the photos started to serve as my diary/ journal.
I didnt want to forget anything.
I wanted to be old and be nostalgic in my rocking chair with my grandchild telling him or her stories of my great adventures and great friends.
I was afraid my memory would disintegrate with age, and I woulda grown old with no memories.

Language barriers may exist for the people who read my life story in a book, language barriers may exist between me and the person I tell my story to...but there is no language barrier between that person and what I saw and whats captured in a photograph. There is nothing to misunderstand.
You see what I saw.

I took pictures of my closest friends and my most common hang out spots. I made sure to get the clothes that they usually wear for wardrobe and costuming reasons. I wanted them in natural poses to get a feel for what their character was like in motion.

My dad hated my photography...he was like..."no one's ready, his heads chopped off, he's got the middle finger up, look how that girl is posing."
But I didnt care...their actions described their personality and that was crucial to me.
You can be anyone standing at the camera smiling...but theres something to understand about a person in the way they stand and their facial expressions and gestures. It was important to me.

I thought my life was fascinating...even if it wasnt. Theres something special about every small moment in our lives, but not everyone sees that. Watch a movie, really think about the things that happen it that much different than yours? Like a romantic comedy? Like a movie about brotherhood/sisterhood? A movie about growing up? A movie about Christmas? A movie about family...? Is it that different?
I certainly dont take this life for granted.

Everyone who knows me knows I take a lotta pics of my girlfriends and I (whoever it is at that given moment). Obviously, pictures are sometimes deceiving, but they give you a slight understanding of how things are or were. Girlfriends to me are very important to my development as a person...and I like to remember the women who changed my life, for better or for worse. And if I were to happen to marry one of them, I would sure like memories of our younger days and not forget all the happiness that we have shared together.

My mind will only remember so much, the rest I leave to a photograph.

I bought my first digital camera like 4 years ago...and I went crazy. I felt that I was somewhat priviledged to have great friends and do cool things and I kinda wanted to show others that. Not to rub it in, but happiness can be achieved through whatever it is you went through or are still going through.
I would be at clubs taking pics of the venue and the people there...just so the people who werent there would have an idea of all the beautiful people they missed or the chances they lost for getting laid. lmao (im being honest). I guess you can sorta consider that as me rubbing it in your face, especially to those who sold out and didnt come out with me. I used to go up to random girls and be like "hi, im visiting from the states, can I take a picture of you?" was pretty fool proof...lets say I gotta lotta mardi gras type material sometimes

This one faithful night, I was doing that at a party at Blurr Nightclub. It was actually the first Sole Fresh Soul Clean Party run by my now good friends Dre, Spexx, Kade and Tek (the Upper Echelon). I was shooting that night like it was no one's business. Kade was actually a friend of mine from middle school and I found out it was his party.
The next day or whatever, Spexx finds the pics that I posted on Facebook and asks if he could use it for the event pics (mind you, I had a point and shoot pocket camera at this point). I had no idea who Spexx was at the time, but I said yea...

My point and shoot went retarded soon after that, and I decided to replace it with an SLR...not knowing what the hell the difference was...I went from a 300 dollar camera to a 1000...but Ive tripled that amount since.

I offered the team to shoot their next event for free because I enjoyed shooting that much. They allowed me to shoot...and they ended up paying me anyways. lol
I got some constructive criticism about the pictures from the team and I spent some more heavy loot to upgrade the equipment.
Eventually my photography got better and I shot regularly for the Upper Echelon. I tried to capture a lot of action pics, people dancing, crowd shots, people drinking, people laughing, gun fingers in the air...I wanted to capture the night as it was. I wanted you to feel the atmosphere in there...Im not always successful, but it was my intent.
Other promoters started noticing me while I was doing the UE parties and I started receiving a lot of co-signs. Lola gave me the co-sign to work with and to work for Maxamus Ent and shooting Swizz Beats, Jazzy Phae, Fabolous, Akon, Alicia Keys and Rick Ross. I eventually made my way into where I shot more events like Rza, J.Dilla parties, Just Blaze and Sneaker Pimps. My associations and affiliations grew the more I worked and so was my pay...which was phenomenal.

I joined the Remix Project because Addy wouldnt stop harrassing me about it. Bryan (of the Legends League) was my teacher there. Well I had already known Bryan from before because he was my boy's cousin, but dont get it twisted, Bryan played no favoritism, I almost didnt make the cut into the program actually.
Through Remix Bryan taught me a lot more about photography, things like basic photography elements and composition. But beyond that, Bryan, along with Gavin, Drex, T-Rexxx and Noah changed my views completely about my purpose with a camera, but I still thank Bryan first and foremost.

Bryan told me..."You have a very powerful tool in your possession. With that camera, you have the power to eternalize a moment. You can freeze time. Keep a moment still forever. Understand your power. Use it to fullest. You are gifted to see moments that no one else can."

I loved taking pictures, but I had never thought of it like that.

And blogging has become my new way of keeping a diary/ journal.
This is now your window to my life...see it how i see it, one frame at a time (except that its digital so there arent any frames).
Im post these pics to show you what happens in this city...and in my life. I do a lot of neat things (sometimes) that some people may have not or will never experience. This is my way of sharing and opening up.
I get a lot of msgs like...I didnt even know that Toronto was like that until I seen your pics.

Ive made it my new responsibility to become your eyes and open your minds to the world that you think you already knew or the world that you didnt even know existed.

Welcome to the Willderness.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, it's the Chillyean, I made the request too. For all your troubles as a little boy, you seem like you were a charming child. I'm glad you stole that girl's camera. It was for the greater good. You take pictures of a city that most people ignore until you point out the beauty of it. I love it and the words on your blog just compliment them even more. I'm glad you did this and I'm happy it's taken you so far. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Amazing and so inspirational. Thank you for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

so it all started by you stealing a girls camera.
YAY photowill.
but on a serious note Im glad you did.

Anonymous said...

Barack's name isn't Muslim it's African for blessed.

oocamilleoo said...

love love love this post
thanks to whomever requested this topic...very real and inspiring.