Tell us about yourself! Your name, as well as a couple of fun facts ! (ie: zodiac sign, spirit animal, fav ice cream flavor, etc)
I’m Essence, a Toronto-born Atlanta-based self-taught lifestyle, music and fashion photographer.
Zodiac Sign: Taurus
My favorite ice cream flavor: Cookies and Cream
Best Movies I’ve Seen So Far This Year: Black Panther, The Death of Stalin, Isle of Dogs
Favorite Show: Seinfeld
I’m an artist who is always in search of the beauty in everything and everyone.
Who are you as an artist? How would you describe your artistic style and identity?
I’m an artist who is always in search of the beauty in everything and everyone. Once I find that beauty, I like to magnify it and put my own twist on it so that everybody else can notice that beauty through my work.
How did you get your start in photography?
During my final week of high school, my older brother let me borrow his DSLR camera so I can collect some memories of my friends before we all went our separate ways after graduation. I fell in love with photography immediately and have been shooting ever since.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration is drawn from the person or thing I’m shooting and our surroundings. Location plays a major part in how I like to shoot (angles, colors to focus on, etc.), but especially what I want to do in post-production.
I don’t always have to do everything myself, collaboration is a beautiful thing…
What is your favorite project/piece that you’ve done, and why?
My favorite project I’ve done is the “Humans” shoot. I really love it because it was truly collaborative shoot. As I’m so used to doing everything on my own.
Fellow photographer and creative director, Sydney Rosee (@SydneyRosee12
) was coming to Atlanta from Dallas for a short period of time and wanted to shoot. So, together, we came up with a concept and color scheme: Layered models in black and yellow. We struggled to find models, but at the last minute we found India (@IndiaJenee
), Jasmine (@JasmineTyberg
), Ryan (@RyanLikesDogs
) and Vivian (@Vivexists
). They were all so incredible and open to our ideas. We also found the amazing stylist, Neha (@Nehaaa)
. We were supposed to shoot outdoors, but it rained the day of the shoot. Luckily, Cam Kirk Studios (@CamKirkStudios
) let us shoot there last minute. The shoot went much better than I could have imagined. Everybody associated was helping each other out with makeup, outfits, poses, EVERYTHING. It was such a majestic experience.
This shoot taught me many things: I don’t always have to do everything myself, collaboration is a beautiful thing, you don’t have to stress so much because everything will work itself out if it’s meant to be and humans are beautiful beings inside and out.
Do you have a dream career or something that you would love to do during your creative career?
Currently, I would love to shoot a campaign for a major brand. Something where I’d be walking down the street and just run into my work printed on a billboard, flipping through a magazine and seeing my photos in print, or at the mall and seeing my photos all over the store. That would bring me so much joy.
I’ve been learning to go with the flow and realize that perfection doesn’t exist.
As a creative individual, what sort of struggles have you endured? How did you overcome those struggles ?
Many of my struggles stem from my own overthinking. I’m my own biggest critic, which is a good thing in some instances but can also be growth stunting.
I’ve been learning to go with the flow and realize that perfection doesn’t exist. There are flaws in everything and that’s fine. All that genuinely matters is that I’m doing the best I possibly can while learning from my mistakes. Growth is the goal and that takes time.
What sort of role has art played in your life?
Growing up, I’ve always been obsessed with music and films, but I’ve lived and breathe art since I picked up a camera 5 years ago. I really can’t imagine a life without art at this point. I have no reason not to keep going and continue put my all into everything I do.
It’s beautiful seeing artists of color make waves in this industry, but we need more opportunities.
As an artist of color who predominately uses models of color, what role do you think diversity and inclusivity has in art- especially now?
I honestly believe the art industry is incredibly behind when it comes to inclusion. That’s why we’re seeing a new renaissance of artists of color and publications specifically catered to marginalized communities/groups. It’s beautiful seeing artists of color make waves in this industry, but we need more opportunities. Artists of color have been raising the bar in every industry since the beginning of time, so it’s about time that a young hard-working black artist like Tyler Mitchell was given the chance to shoot a Vogue cover but at the same time it’s extremely disappointing that it took this long for this opportunity to arise. There are 7+ billion people in this world from various walks of life and everybody needs the opportunity to see themselves represented on a major stage. Representation is extremely important for young people in any industry. More and more people believing that they can achieve anything will only make this world a better place.
What advice would you give to those who are aspiring to pursue or explore their art?
Find what you love, learn as much as you can then put your all into it. BE YOU!