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Creative By Design

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Creative By Design with Temi Thomas

Temi Thomas, Kenna Klosterman

Creative By Design

Temi Thomas, Kenna Klosterman

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1. Creative By Design with Temi Thomas


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Creative By Design with Temi Thomas

Mhm. Yeah, we don't know. Mhm. Yeah. Hello, everyone. And welcome to Creativelive. Welcome to Curve Live If this is your first time here or welcome back if you are a regular. My name is Ken Klosterman and I am your host today, host of Creative Live and also host of Creative Live TV as well as today's We are photographers podcast, which is a very special edition of the podcast as we are teaming up with black women photographers all month long. It is February 2021 we are celebrating Black History Month. We are bringing you four different photographers, filmmakers, creative directors throughout the month and just really celebrating the community. Polly Arango, who is the founder of black Women photographers, is a powerhouse. Be sure to go check out the site. Uh, join the community, find out the resources, hire a black woman photographer today. Um, so you can find out more all about that in the links, But let's start again by giving some shoutouts are calling for shout outs again. If you a...

re watching on creativelive dot com slash t v, you can click on the chat icon and you can jump in their chat with your fellow folks viewing from around the world. We love to know where it is that you are tuning in from. So if you're on social media as well, give me those shout outs. Let's see how many countries in the world we can. Uh, we can hear. We've got, uh Let's see, we have got folks starting to tune in, so keep them coming. But let me bring on our guest today for the very first time on creativelive. Her name is Tammie Thomas. She is coming to us from Dallas, Texas, where? As of today, uh, there has been a big coast or a little bit about that. She is a creative director of photographer. She wears many, many hats. Um, and she is a pleasure to have on her work has been seen in vogue. Vogue Italia can't wait to hear about that Wired Forbes Texas Monthly. Okay, Africa. And let's just give a big round of applause wherever you are bumping on your on your desk. Welcome. Welcome to me, Thomas. To the show. Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us again. I know this is just fun fact, because you know. Let's be real. Uh, snow has been pounding down in Dallas. You're in Dallas. Shout out if anybody else is in Dallas out there. And you told me what you had to do this morning, and I just want to share this with the world because I was, like, What? Please. Yeah. What did you have to do this morning, man? I had to boil snow. Yeah. Yeah. So you have You have power, but no water, but no water. All right, well, we are hoping that you get that water back quickly. Um, it is It is. It sounds like like a story you're gonna tell your future Children, you know? Yeah, the survival story. You know, instead of walking miles, I had to boil snow. So exactly, uh, so before we get started, uh, let's do some of these shout outs we have. Um we have a photographer photographer that you work with closely, and I'm not I can't remember how to pronounce his name. Uh, Paco. Paco. Thank you, Paco. Tuning in from Dallas. We have don in Holly Springs, North Carolina. We have Ontario, Canada, Glenn and British Columbia, John in Denmark, Phoenix, Arizona, Brianna in Arkansas. We have Donoghue's in Fort Worth who also has, um, no water and no power. So we are thinking of all of you out there across the country. Uh, there's been just crazy weather anyway. Besides the point to me, let's talk about you were talking about what it means to be a creative director. Um, you're innovating from start to finish juggling all the pieces. Um, can you Can you tell us about a recent project where, um, where it did all come together And what the importance of working with a team is Because, um from what I've seen, you know, you you work with a significant number of people as you're putting these campaigns together. Yeah. Oh, my gosh. I cannot I cannot describe how important the team is like it's It is the best thing to ever happen to a creative campaign. And one of my favorite things to do is putting great people in great places, like especially, um, doing what they're good at, whether you're a makeup artist or your photographer stylist, like I love when creative entities come together. Um, and from just ideation to, um, execution, it's it's really fun. to have people along that process and people you know to have feedback on on on from ideation and then people to actually execute it and do it such a good job on the onset. It's It's so great. And, um, recently I can't say what the project is, but it's coming. It's coming soon, and I'm so, so, so, so, so excited for it to go live. But it was one of those projects that we, um I'm working with it. Uh, I worked with these easy on, and we are coming up with a campaign towards the end of this month. And, um, we've been working on this ideation for probably three months. Um, just because we had an idea didn't work out. So having to, like, kind of scramble pandemic, but also, like, not pandemic in Texas, Just working through those things. Um, but that was one of the That was the most recent project I've worked on. And that's that's what I'm so so excited for. I can't like I cannot wait for you guys to see it. Do you know? Do you know when that is going to be released? End of this month end of February 2025. Okay, so let's let's talk about me is easy, because I know you're of the of the many hats. Um, you are you work, you do a lot of work with me is easy. Tell us what it is, Um, and how you got involved. Um, your role, all the things is easy. Is a street wear for the diaspora. Um, that's just a short for him. I'm sure. Paco, if you're listening, I apologize if that's not the best way to describe it. But, um, Mrs is just a diaspora specific, um, streetwear brand. So we have baseball jerseys, hockey jerseys, basketball jersey soccer jerseys. Um, sweat sometimes. Um, but it's it's a brand that started, um, from Paco. And it was really to tie, um, to make people not feel so alone. Especially if you're of a diaspora group. Um, it's and especially when you're not in your home country, it's just a great way to rip. And it's a different way to rip because normally you don't see Ghana on a basketball jersey, so it's like, Oh, this is something different. Um, and what I do for the brand is is like It started off as just creative direction, and I dabbled in our PR a little bit. But right now it's mostly creative direction. Um, and just content photography on the side as well. And how I got started was kind of, uh, trial basis. So I I had worked with are now Miss Easy photographer on a few projects, and he recommended, um, that I hop on. Uh, it was at the time a Ghana soccer jersey launch, and he recommended that Paco hired me for that role. Um, Paco hired me, and it was probably, like my least favorite shooting experience just because it felt like so many things were just off and wrong and just not It was not great to me. However, um, it was great chemistry about, you know, amongst everyone. So I got along with Obviously, I've worked with Kwesi before. He's our company photographer, and Paco was my first time really meeting him. It was just great chemistry. Paco is a great leader. Um, he really allows creative to be creative, and and he's also very creative himself with his wacky ideas. So it was It was just great chemistry. And so we decided to continue, um, working together. And that's how it kind of came onto the team and and really started working with them more often. Yeah. When you, uh what was that? Like in the beginning, when you're like, you're saying, like, I don't think this is going well or, you know, or you're not sure. But then other people see you very differently. You know, usually then you see yourself. Um what? What were you able to learn from? Sort of one of that, That early experience of like, whether it's confidence or whether it's you mentioned chemistry, like, once you feel that is there, then you know that maybe AIDS to confidence or what? What sort of was the evolution of going from being new to working with a brand and then, you know, as a creative director, you know, really having to be responsible for for the vision. Um wow, I think it's definitely, um, it's a perfectionist thing for me. Um, I've always kind of been I've always been critical of everything. Um and so creative direction was a great way for me to put my critical eye into good use rather than just be a critical person. Um and so I think that is understanding myself and and And, um, how I see things in my attention to detail is what helps me push through whether or not, um, things are going well on set or a model didn't show up or we're down a number or things like just many things happen that just happened on set. And so growing in understanding who I am as a person and who I am as a creative has helped me be more confident in saying that, Yes, I'm a creative director. Yes, I'm a photographer. Yes, I do this. Yes. If hair needs to be done, I can do that. If makeup needs to be done, please don't ask me. But I can do that. Um, so it's it's it's time and understanding who I am as a person that really hated me and understanding who I am as a creative. It's a beautiful awareness and because it's definitely sort of a lifelong journey, I would say, um, as we all continue to evolve, whether that's in ourselves or in our careers. And I had noticed that you wrote one of the things you wrote about yourself. was. What sets me apart is that my weakness is also my strength. Um and and, you know, in terms of being a very critical person in terms of being a perfectionist, attention to detail, like I I see those traits in myself as well. So I totally hear you in terms of how it can be hindering. Um, but yet then you know it is when you work with a team, it's one thing to like you just said, like, I don't know how to do makeup, But don't ask me to like it's being that that ability to let other people shine in their space. Um, is it just It sounds like it's a super cool, you know, role to to be able to play. Uh, best girl. Uh, what about the photography side, then? Are you ever having to do both? Are you like, talk to me about then? There's one thing When you're working with a with a brand or on a bigger project, talk to me about creating for yourself. Shout out to all the photographers out there. Um, it's harder than creative directing to me. Um, just because it's like I don't necessarily love putting on two hats at the same time. Um, just because it's harder to be perfect. Um, but when I do, it's I What I do is like, I scale it down. So maybe my idea of when I'm only creative directing is just this big campaign. But when I'm the photographer, I have to think about lighting. I have to think about how many resources I have. Where am I gonna shoot? Um, am I gonna have studio light? Am I going to have natural light? Like all these other factors that it's like, Okay, let me scale down whatever I need to do to make it workable for me. Um, so it's it's I'm still learning. I don't I don't like to like I can't confidently enough say that I am a photographer, but I'm good at it now. My favorite hat to put on. But I'm good at it. Um, and it helps because when I'm working with other photographers, I can speak photography language. So if I need to change the aperture or, um, I need to know what type of light they need or equipment they need, it's it's better for me. Um, but photography is hard to me. Photography is hard, and I think you don't realize that until you actually get into it. I mean, this like notion that all we do is press a button is just ridiculous. And, um and But I think and I think it's because of that, because once you know that all week, then it is I don't know. I want to. I want to hone in on because you are not the only one that has a problem calling themselves a photographer because you know, it's it's that it's this like, Well, what does that even mean? And so you know, there's what does it mean to be a professional photographer? What does it mean to be an amateur photographer? What does it mean to be have being a photographer, be part of what you need to be in order to be a creative director within, You know, whatever the role is, so take a little bit deeper as to why do you have a hard time calling yourself a photographer? Can you say right now I am a photographer? Oh, it's because I'm a perfectionist, and so I know and I see other people who do it better and have more experience. Or maybe they have the eye of what I want. Or maybe it's because, like when I'm on set, I know the process of how long it took me to get that one photo or how long I didn't have to set up the light or the model was not as great as I hoped it would be. So I have to work with what I have. Or like there's just so many things that happened. And so confidently saying I am a photographer is like, Oh, but everything didn't go perfect. So are you a photographer that I think that's why for me, it's like, Oh, you know, like, shout out to other photographers. But to me, you can like, don't call yourself that quite yet. Yeah, I think that's what it is. Well, I think I think, you know, Look at your work. Look at the fact that you say, you know, I've been published in Vogue wired for Tell me about the first time you were published in Vogue Italia. What was the image like? What was the scenario talk to us about, you know, Did that give you a boost. Oh, for sure, for sure. It gave me a boost. It was my, um I was interning at this agency, and the photos that were published in Vogue Italia were photos I'd like taken with a photographer friend for my birthday. And so he was testing out. Okay, let me see if I can get published or not. Um and so he submitted the photos to Vogue Italia's digital platform. Um, and then it was just one random morning, and he texted me is like, Look, and it just had the Vogue will go on. And I was like, So, Yeah, I don't want to scream, but it was such an amazing feeling, and it's definitely a confidence boost. It's definitely a confidence boost. Um, and it was It was the right confidence boost to, like, let me know that I should just keep going. Um, not enough to be like I've arrived, but definitely enough to be like Yeah, Okay. You have something Just keep going. Are there other moments or or is it is it interactions with, um, any mentors or what are some other moments that you've had, where you're like, Can I keep going like Or you know that the things that that you know, this is what we all struggle with, You know, when we're in creative careers, creative pursuits, it's not easy. Like you said, photography is hard. But being an entrepreneur is hard, like, what are some other? Are there some other examples of times when you doubted yourself and how you kind of continue to push on? I doubt myself all the time. I don't think there's I don't think there's a point that I don't doubt myself, but I also recognize that that's part of the process. Um, and also I realized that I'm on a journey and and I think the doubt also comes in because I'm not exactly where I want to be. And that doubt is also kind of this this motivation to keep going because the moment I stopped doubting myself, I'm either at the pinnacle of my career or like I'm not alive anymore. So it's one of the two, and I'm just gonna have to get to get to either point, um, and so for me, doubt as part of the process, how do I not doubt myself or what do I stay to myself. I just have to keep going. Um, I think the really important thing is that I know the type of life I want to live, um, and creating I say to anybody that would listen like I live to create and I love to create. And if I wasn't creating, I'd be an interior decorator, creating my home like I have to do something to bring what I see in my mind to life. Um, and if I'm not doing that, then I'm probably not going to be the most happy person out there. Um and so essentially, I'm doing it for me, and everything else is just an added benefit. But I'm doing it because it's what I need to do to live my best life. Um and so that's the reason I haven't stopped. And that's the reason I keep going because I need to do it like I need it. Yeah, I think it's beautiful what you said earlier about you, no doubt, and recognizing that if we're not doubting ourselves, then we're not trying hard enough or we're not pushing ourselves and and so just that, like you said, just being aware of that is you know, is the place to to not feel like Oh, I will never I don't want to not doubt myself, but that's, you know, that is just awareness. Okay? And then I could continue to do, um, But I think it's awesome to, um just to to understand and know what your intention is and why you're doing the things you do. Um, I want to go back to earlier when we were talking about is easy and, um, being a streetwear brand for the diaspora. And you talked about, you know, not not always being connected to or, you know, or or seeing your people, like, talk to me about are you, um, talk to me about your childhood? Are you first generation? Um, you know, American, Nigerian and, um, talk to me about, um What? You know what? Where you grew up and what that was experience was And what that does mean to you in terms of the pursuit of your work. Um, I'm first generation Nigerian or first generation Nigerian American, um, or is that Is that right? Yeah. Well, I can't cancel the country when I was eight years old, So, technically, I'm an immigrant myself, so yeah, but at this point, I've spent more time here than I have in Nigeria. So I Nigerian, American, but more American. Anyway, um, so my africanus, my Nigerian nous, I think my Nigerian is is What drives me to be so critical of myself is that, you know, we're never satisfied, like anyone with immigrant parents or anyone with strict parents in general is like, straight A's or nothing doctor, lawyer or nothing. Um and so it's not necessarily my parents that push that, but the community, you know, is pushing that. And so I think that's what also drives my creative pursuit. It's like if I'm not a doctor, I'm gonna be the best creative director out there. Um, very Nigerian mentality. I know other Africans have that, too, but Nigerians have this sense of pride that that we get taunted about but also works to our own benefit. So I think my upbringing as as a Nigerian has aided me in that, um So I came here when I was eight years old. Um, my parents and I lived in Nashville, Tennessee. Went there for middle school, elementary school in high school and college um and so I'm a Texas transplant recently, but I don't Wow. I've never really thought about like how my growing up really affected me. Well, let me put it this way. So I've always wanted to be a doctor. I want to college to try to study premed. Try. Um it was in that process that I discovered that medicine is not for me. I would not be happy if I wasn't, uh, if I was a doctor, Um, and having I want to essentially thank my parents too, because they could have been very Nigerian parents and like, you have to be a doctor. But they didn't do that. They let me kind of take a back seat and understand who I was as a person. I've always been creative. I've always loved taking pictures. I've always loving loved people, taking pictures of me. Um and so I think growing up, I had that in the back of my head. Like I'm creative. I sing I can dance just different creative things that I've done like as a child growing up. Um And so it's like that is what aided me and visiting towards creative. I don't know If that makes sense, it's like totally from the back of my mind to the front. But, yeah, I don't know if that answers your question. No, it does it just It's always it's always curious to hear. Um, you know, when people discovered their creativity, Some of us, you know, is when you are always aware of it. And some people, you know, you you, um I mean, creativity comes in many, many forms. And we always say, Here at Creativelive, there's a creator and all of us and businesses creative, you know? You know, it's not just like art being creative. Um, being a doctor, you know, there's a gotta be proper, you know, solving problems left, right and center, you know, and and, um but I think it's, I think it's I don't know. It's just it's interesting to the effect of what sort of our childhood or beliefs when we were younger and what how we grow up affects what we are. You know, the path that we follow and and sometimes it is having to break through what we were told we should do or, you know, or what have you. And like you said, it makes your drive to be the best creative director and photographer out there even that much stronger. Um, but I also think it's interesting in terms of of of, sort of, the choices of projects that you work on, or or, you know, things that you're, you know, that you're drawn to. And I wanted to talk a little bit about it was, you know, perusing through your website and socials. And, um, you know, it's always interesting to me what people put at the top of their instagram. Because to me, those things are likely the most important things to those people right now. Um, so talk to me about the portrait noir project. Um, brand, um, that that you have been involved in a number of these, um, the process BTS videos. Um, that is really great, because he exposed people to, you know, the process of the different projects that you're working on. Um, and and so this was a project at least the one that I was looking at, um, about rebranding for portrait, nor tell me about that business. And and, um Just what What sort of this Behind the scenes video, you know, meant to you or or Um, yeah. Yeah. So the portrait Nor was started by Kwesi who's simultaneously Mrs Ease Company photographer. Um and it started as a way to really share blackness and black portraiture And, um yeah, black portraiture because it was something that we saw was essentially he saw that was missing when you, like, looked at Pinterest. Pinterest has done a great job rebranding so far. Um, but when you were looking at in still photos, it was very hard to find black faces for specific, um, concepts. Um so it it started to kind of fill that void. And with the rebrand, we wanted to, um, create imagery along with the new logo with the new um, font and just the new page. Um And so we decided to kind of take people along the behind the scenes process and really highlight how those pictures came to life. And it was really special to me because it was one of the first times that I was on camera explaining, like, creative direction or what I did. And, um, also highlighting, uh, the people that we worked with and so that that that was essentially like we wanted to do BTS but make it a little more elaborate. And so that was That was how that the process came to life Nice. I mean, it is It's always it's always fun to like you said here directly. This is how we learn, right? We see other people doing their thing. And then, um, we start to understand more about how it all how it all comes together again. If you're new, you might not even know how a team gets out there and and works together. Um, I'm curious if you can think back to when we were just talking about, you know, you were a creative early on, but going back to photography Can you Can you remember an image that you saw that somebody else, somebody else's image where that like, moved you so much emotionally that you're like, wow, like photography? Because for some people, it's painting and it's, you know, like other other things, like, what do you think you were drawn to with regard to photography? And that being the industry you're in, um, I want to say the most significant memory for me was when and I don't know the photographer who shot the photos for this. But it was in tandem with Beyonce's formation, video or music video, Um, and all the visuals that came consecutively after that for the lemonade album. That's what it's called. Um, and I think for me it was how photography's told the story of what the videos also did and how black it was. And, um, not just black in the sense of like culture, but, um, black people were lit. Well, um, skin tone was great colors blended like there were so many things that meshed just with the overall visuals for that project. And I think that was I was a sophomore in college, and that, for me, was like sensation overload. I was I was in love with everything about that project and the photos that came with the project, the videos, everything, um, and that was that was essentially, like, my wake up to this existing. But I didn't necessarily know what it was, but I just knew that Wow, this I want this. I don't know how, but I want this. Yeah, I love it. I mean, it's again. It is like you. You went to your in something. Sometimes you forget. Like what? At first. What first got you there? Um, and and so being able to recognize that then and kind of See how that influences You know what your what you are creating today, even that, um, you know? Yeah, I love hearing. You know what some of those early sort of influences were, um, in kind of further than that, though. Then what about yourself? Like what? It was there. An early image that you created, where you now have in your mind, like what you like. I want that. Was there one where you were like I did that And what you know And what what was What was that like? Can you describe that image, Mom? Um, I think it's it's also mental pictures of just what I remember from being young and living in Nigeria. Um, it's it's either remembering how vibrant certain houses were or what colors of clothing I wore on my fourth birthday. Um, or just like looking at pictures of what my parents couch looked like when we were back home, it was it's just different visual cues that, like that for me, recalls my earliest memories of just creating or or things that, um, that I care about Now that I remember we're cool to me when I was in Nigeria or just color elements or, um, story elements. Um, and, for example, one aesthetic that I'm really into now is like film and retro. Um, and I think I'm into it now because I wish I took more pictures then or I had more of a documentary or ways to document, um, my life, then my parents' life, then their parents life. Then, um and I think that's that's why I'm so obsessed with it now is because I'm trying to do those things that I wish they did for me so that I could, like, pull from pictures of my grandparents are, um, pull from pictures of where they used to live or what their, um, village looked like. Or just different things like that. Um, those are my early, early cues that inform me now, Um, yeah, I think that's nothing. That's that's my answer to that. I want to talk more about than, um, film photography, um, and digital because I did see on some of the projects, you know, there may have been somebody doing the digital photography. But you're doing the film photography, um and and so talk to me about, like, what type of film? Photography? Um what? Like what? How often are you doing that? Are you integrating it into the business side? Is that the for fun to talk to me about film Because a lot of people are interested in getting back into film. It's a lot harder. Oh, yeah, All in my opinion. Uh huh. Get for it. Congratulations to you. Um, but for me, film film was something that I was like, Really, I admired a lot of film photographers. Mike in Dallas is a film photographer out here. Um Zerbe Malice is a film photographer out here. I'm just shouting them out, but they're like, really don't film photographers who? I looked at their work on instagram. And I was just like, I just want to take a film photo if I can just take one film photo. Um, and so on a whim, I was either buying like camera equipment or visiting a camera store. And there was a 35 mil. 35 millimeter film camera, and I was just like You know what? Let me just buy it. Let me just let me just get it. Bought it. They were very helpful about a bunch of film for it. Um, and it's it's still an experiment. Um, I don't do it as often as I would like to just because I think there's a lot of elements like I don't I don't want to just take a photo of, like, a car or something. I think that's the perfectionist in me. It's like, I don't want to do that. Um, so I kind of pick and choose when and where I bring my film camera to, um I like to bring it on set and see if I can play with light and and digital. Um, but film film just requires a lot more. Um, I can't like a picture can be over exposing film, but can't be overexposed in digital. And so learning that it's like, Okay, so I need adequate lighting in order to shoot film. Okay, then I need to make sure. First of all, I need to even know how to roll the film in my camera. I know. I need to know how to load the film correctly. I need to know when 16 stops is that it's just so many things. And so I'm not gonna I'm not gonna, like, charge people for film photography quite yet. Uh, it's, but it's it's so fun. It's It's, um it's a great way to slow down and really be intentional about pictures and intentional about what you're capturing and, you know, making sure your subject can stay still. You stay still. It's it's a great kind of I wouldn't call it a break, but it's almost like a break from the normal pace. Well, I know I love the way you describe it, because it is you, the in that word that you use, you have to be intentional because you you only have a certain number of frames in that roll of film, you know, and and so it becomes. And I'm always curious if once people are even on that same set doing film and digital, if it changes your approach to the digital work as well, because you just you start to do you start to see differently, like you mentioned the light and the like. Are you looking at things in a different way. Example. If I'm I know I can get away with a with a picture being underexposed if I'm taking it on digital just because I can always bring a bring back light and post, Um, but I can't get away with that in in film. And so it's like, Well, let's just fix the lighting overall, um, things like that or or having the subject be like You can't move because one I have to fix this focus. Um, and I probably would only take three photos of you, so those three photos have to be wonderful versus, like digital. I can take 200 photos of you in the same spot. Um and so it's It provides a little more, I guess, a little more to my detail oriented, oriented nature. Um, and and it allows just things on set to try to slow down because on set things can be very quick. You need makeup done. You need hair done. You need everything kind of moving because you only have a limited amount of time. But can we take this break and make sure the frame looks good? Zuma to look good. Is there anything out of out of frame on the set. Just I think film and digital in the same kind of timeline helps helps everyone involved take a break and make sure, like everything on set is perfect. It's never gonna be perfect, but as close as it's gonna get, we could try, try, perfectionist. It will never be perfect when we're there or we or we shift our definition of what perfect is because maybe it's all perfect. Anyway, this is my work, though I say this because this is my work too. Uh, I did notice in one of those behind the scenes process videos where you as creative director come in and are sort of looking at the frame as to where the photographer was. Is that part of the part of, um, again going back to like, how you as creative director, if you're not creative director and photographer, how you're interacting with them? Are you literally like in there making sure the frame is what you want it to be? Absolutely. But that's also a great thing about working with people that you trust and people that you already love their work. Um, it allows you kind of to focus on other things. So maybe you focus on the time of the studio or you you just focus on other things and let the photographer and let the creative do what they do best. Um, but it's always great to be able to see the frame, um, to, for example, I I may have three shots that I need happen. You can do everything else, but I need these three shots. Maybe I have four people on set. I need a group shot. They need to be sitting in this chair. They need to be like this. I need to be landscape and vertical. Those are That's what I need to do that and I'll leave you alone. Um, and so I'm always in that kind of process. But I really do enjoy letting great people do great work. Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, it's just again. It's interesting that then when you're when you're saying I know what I need X, y and Z, it's almost like, have you story boarded that out? Like when you're going into it, talk to me more about your like yes, girl. So, doctor free work talk to us about, um again for people who who aren't as familiar with doing these types of team projects, like, what is the pre work that that goes into? Maybe you can. I don't know if you can go to the the the project that you're most excited about right now, but just, you know, in in general, like there's a little mini about that one. I was talking about that one, Um so once the idea is like kind of verbally agreed upon, because what we do is bounce ideas off of each other. So Paco cuisine and myself are are like ideation team. Um, and so once we've kind of talked about the idea amongst ourselves, it's my job to kind of flush it out and make it plain so that when we're explaining it to the rest of the team, when we're explaining it to other creative entities and the models, they see what we already saw. Um, and so story boarding. Um, and that sounds complex. But really, what I'm doing is creating a Google presentation. Um, so it's not. It's not like this fancy thing. It's just like a Google presentation with in still photos. If I need to put a few words on there. Um, for example, one thing that I did, um, on this past project was talk about the makeup style I want for this shoot. And so we're doing an eighties aesthetic. For example, I need to see purple liner, or I need to see, like, key elements that were key in pictures in the eighties or for styling. I need to see denim or I need to see colorful backgrounds. Or I need to see colorful clothes like different elements. I can explain on that, um, Google slide, Um, and then just other than for, like, location, phone numbers, um, who are reaching out to things like that. Um, but I flush it out on this, um, in school board, and then I give it to all the creative entities involved. And then we kind of have, like, full creative meeting where they can ask questions and we talk through that process, and then we get to set, and then we make it happen. So it's like there's a whole before before coming on set hole before, right, right. And then, like you were saying earlier, Like making sure that in the midst of it. You're getting what you needed for the project at the outset. Um, I'm I'm curious going back to you and, Mm. Getting into this line of work. Um, your you in terms of the many other hats Talk to me about your Did you say your in ad school or finishing up at school or talk to me about that? Congratulations. Thank you. How is that playing into the bigger picture of to me? Like I 123 But I don't want we're going to What? I'm doing credit in the afternoon. When I go to bed, I want it to be my whole life. Um and so that was really one of the inspirations for me to go to at school, because I know that there are people who do it full time, and there are people who do it as their 9 to 5. Um, and I also wanted to do it on a bigger scale. So one day, you know, hopefully I'm directing a Super Bowl commercial. That would be fantastic. Um, but essentially, like, this is the life I want to live and at school as part of that process in getting me too this life. Um, and so that was That was my big my big push for for it. And so it it plays into my overall life plan is that Timmy wants to create to me is making sure that she creates all her life, Um, and makes a lot of money from it, So yeah. Yes, yes. Um, what was the biggest risk that you've ever that you've taken so far doing this? Uh, it's betting on yourself. Really? Um, like, be a doctor. Um, and I graduated school not having any idea what I wanted to do. Um, and I kind of stumbled upon creative direction, like I didn't even know I knew advertising when it was an industry, but I didn't know what it was. Um, I knew creating was there, but I didn't know like I could create, because you always see, like, um, why am I forgetting her name? But and And Lebowitz like, you think that she's like the pinnacle, and there's no way you can get there. Um, so you don't necessarily equate your journey to being connected to people who do that on a larger scale. And so I stumbled into creating or into creative directing and photography and continued learning from there. And I've been learning as I go. Um, so I forgot the question. I think it was about taking risks, like, yeah. So the risk was that I'm not a doctor, So I'm trying to figure out what what creating looks like not being that, um the risk is is, uh the risk is you are You're kind of subject to the opinion of other people. So you might think it looks really cool, Ken. It might not, Um, creative life might not. So it's It's this risk of like, you're putting yourself out there and it's like, here, like my work. Like like what I've done. And when people don't I'm not gonna lie. It hurts because you're like I did this for you. So when people don't like it, it's like, What did I do wrong? Um, that's That's the risk in doing. It's like you're you're subject to people's opinion. You're subject to people's eye. But also, what would you rather do? That's right. I mean, you you keep going back to, and I really appreciate you saying I'm creating. I'm creating the life that I want and you could have stayed in med school and been miserable because you realize that a good doctor but you would have and you would have been a good doctor. But you may have been miserable, or maybe, you know, but you made a choice. And I think that's the you know, that's the beautiful thing is seeing you know that you when you can live at, you know, from choice. And, um and it is a risk, you know, create any of the, you know, creative. Being a creative entrepreneur, um, gives you the greatest responsibility, but also the greatest risk, you know, or and reward freedom and responsibility because you're sort of it's on you to, you know, to keep creating. Um I'm curious. Um What? You know what? What, When you do like what? I mean, I kind of already have the answer. I think I was going to say, like, what makes you feel most alive? Uh, creating. Yeah. It's going to say Wait, she started giving me that answer in a way by saying it. No, no, it's It's I mean, but that's like, What is it about, like being a doctor or I don't know, I'm just trying to get to the, like, what is it that wasn't satisfying within that? Um, just that that you recognized, um, for me, it was It just didn't feel right. Like I'd sit in lecture halls and and just feel so alone and isolated, even though, like, I'm sitting in a lecture hall full of people, but they're not struggling to get a C on this biology assignment. I am, um and it was just this, Um Oh, it was like being like being honest with myself on like, I don't want to sit here and read 50 something pages worth of a subject that are you really interested in versus like, if you give me a book about photography or you give me a book about creative direction, I will sit through it and I will read it. So it's It's like I just had to be honest with myself, like I had to really look at myself and just like, No, it's not because you're not smart. It's just you don't have the passion for this. And so I'm not the type of person that I can do something. Well, if I'm not passionate about it like you. You can tell you'll see it on my face. You'll see it in my attitude. I can't hide it. And so it's It was really like Timmy. You have to work in line with what you are passionate about. If not everybody else is going to be miserable. Be miserable because you're miserable and that's awful. So, like, find, find it, really find it. And and, um, I took the time to to stumble upon it and find it and continue in it. So, um and that's the commitment part. You know, that's the commitment is, um, it's one thing to, like, find something and then to make it work because it's hard, you know, it's, um and it's it's super commendable. This is why we love to, you know, bring people on who are living the creative life because we are all you know, It's, um, those of us who are trying. It's, you know, we're not alone, um, and and we're in it together, talk to me about community and, like how you have established community or advice for finding community for other, you know, young creators out there. Communities like community is super important in that it motivates you. You have cheerleaders and not just finding like this community. I guess it's it's separating like your inner inner inner bubble outer bubble and people who will just like either hate on your work or like your work and not be honest to you. Um, so finding a group of creatives that you genuinely have chemistry with like it doesn't feel because I'm naturally an introvert. And so it's a lot of work for me. And funny enough, a lot of creators are introverts, and so it's a lot of work for us to just like go and meet people. But when you find those, like genuine connections, it's easy and it doesn't feel like work. Um, and so starting their, um and and you have to be intentional about finding community as well. Because when I first, for example, when I first moved to Dallas, um, I didn't know anyone, and so I went to meet ups, even though I hated it, I went to meet ups, and if I found one person to talk to cool um, I DM like creatives that I really admire that were in the same city as me uh, maybe I followed them to set, or I met up with them for coffee. Like you have to get out of yourself in order to find that community. But once you find it like, I'm not damning anyone right now, and I'm great. So But I had to do that kind of, like, put myself into the community to then enjoy what the community has to offer. Um, but in and enjoying that community, it's having people who are honest with you and like, Timmy doubt that wasn't your best work. Or like, Wow, you know, you've really outdone yourself or wow, I can see your growth. Um, you will get hurt because there are some people that you know you admire, but they are on their own journey, so they don't. They're not gonna be in line with you or have time for you, especially if you're the one reaching out. Um, I've had a lot of like experiences of, like just not so great experiences reaching out. But the experiences that I have had has outweighed those initial like putting yourself out there. Um, so it's definitely it's definitely worth getting outside of your comfort zone. So you find your community, and then once you're in it, like, really invest in your community as well. So share their work. Um, comment on their stuff if they need help on set. If you have time like as much as you're taking from your community, you also have to give back. So yeah, beautifully said. And I think there's some lessons in there as well. About the more you know, the more you put yourself out there, you might be somebody might not have the time or you might be not rejected, but just, like might not be the right fit in that moment. And that isn't a reflection of you. Not, like so continuing to, like, not let that stop you and, you know, pounding on as many doors as you can, especially when you move somewhere and you don't know anybody in the beginning. And so you know, that's a great lesson. Intentionality, um that, you know, it just it comes back around to, um this. Like you were saying earlier. What's the biggest risk is is putting yourself out there and whether that's even before our project has started in it. After it putting it out for people to see. But that is you know, that is where when you have the strength and courage to do that, um, you know that that is where you can then shine When we were talking earlier about, um, putting stuff out there and being vulnerable, and Paco commented, like having to stay in that state of constant vulnerability is huge risk. And I think that you are on your website. Um, you sort of speak to this burn a brown, talks about being in the arena. Um, and if you're not doing it, then you can't be saying anything about it. So maybe this is a beautiful place to end. Like, talk to me about what? That being in the arena means to you Or that that quote that you have, um, man in the arena. I learned this, Um, I learned this quote in high school with my favorite debate. Um, debate teacher, Mr Fuller. I know. I'm just I'm just gonna send this to Mr Fuller, so, you know, shout out. Shut up, Mr Fuller. But man in the arena essentially is like, um, the credit goes to the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust, sweat and blood Who airs again and again. But, you know, there's no error without there's no effort without error and shortcoming. Essentially, um, But for me, that means, like you, no one can tell you anything if they're not the ones actually getting rejected. Getting the yes is the nose creating, making mistakes because you're gonna make so many mistakes. But you are in this arena. You know why you're in this arena like I'm here because this is the life I want to live. And so in order for me to do that, I have to be the man in the arena. Nobody's gonna do it for me. Um, and so it's really important that I remember that I'm going to make mistakes. I'm gonna fall short. I'm gonna not be where I thought I would be at a certain age or a certain time. But I know why I'm here. And I have to do what I have to do to get to where I want to go. Um, so I have to keep going. I have to keep going. I have to keep going like, yes. No vulnerability or not. Defensiveness or not, I have to keep going, and that's that's what that quote means to me. Like I have to keep doing this for myself, to survive, to live. I have to do this. You are the woman in the arena, Woman in the arena, and I love it is incredibly inspiring. Um, and it is. It's just a reminder that we all need every day like it's okay if it's if we're in the struggle. If we're doubting if we're feeling vulnerable like, that's just what it's going to be. And we keep putting ourselves back in the arena Because, like you said, you've chosen this life and it's what you need to do It's beautiful. Um, Tommy, where can everybody find you? Follow you, hire you all the things means easy as well, Like give us all the all the places, All the things to check out E m I. Thomas underscore. I PMR your score, Lincoln. I'm Kenny Precious Thomas on my website is tammy Thomas dot com. Um, essentially, you can find me DME message me. Um, send your contact info to me on all those platforms and I am readily available to hear what you want to you know what project do you want to do? And Yeah, I love it. I love it. Well, thank you so much to me for being with us on this episode of Were photographers here on Creative Live TV. Here is part of week three of our collaboration with black women photographers. Super excited. Next week. Coming up, we have Alexis Hundley, who will be joining us next Wednesday as well. Same time, same place. Um, and it's just been such a pleasure to, um, to meet you, to get to know you and know your stories and be inspired and encouraged by by the work that you're doing, um, out there. So once again, everybody be sure to check out the 100 plus episodes of We Are Photographers, Our podcast that we have here at creativelive creativelive dot com slash podcast. If you are watching right now on creative live TV, that's creativelive dot com slash t v. You can check out, scroll down and see all the upcoming live broadcasts that we have, where it's like you get to engage with everybody else who is tuning in at the same time. And as I mentioned at the top again. Be sure to find and follow to me as well as black women photographers get involved. Um, Polly is creating, you know, not just a database. Um, but a community. She was a powerhouse, and I just It's really inspiring to see and watch everything that she is doing. So shout out to Polly as well. Yes. All right. Thank you so much again to me. I hope you get your water back quickly. And everybody. Thanks for tuning in. That's a wrap for now. But we will see you all next time right here on creative life.

Class Description


Our weekly audio podcast We Are Photographers brings you true stories from behind the lens and behind the lives of your favorite photographers, filmmakers, and creative industry game-changers. From their struggles to their wins, host Kenna Klosterman discovers the real human stories about why they do what they do.

Listen to this and other audio episodes on our audio Podcast page.


If you feel like you wear many hats in your creative life, Temi’s story will resonate with you. Find out what goes into being a Creative Director of brand campaigns and why cultivating a strong team makes all the difference. We talk about how being a perfectionist can get in the way of self-confidence, and how doubt can actually be a valuable driver to keep going. Temi explores the importance of taking risks, intentionally putting yourself and your work out there, and building community.


Temi Thomas is a Creative Director and Photographer based in Dallas, Texas. From ideation to execution, she lives to create. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Vogue Italia, Forbes, and WIRED. Of her many roles, Temi is also a Brand Strategist for MIZIZI - the official streetwear brand for the African Diaspora.