Empowering Beauty in AfroArt with Kahran & Regis Bethencourt
Kahran & Regis Bethencourt, Kenna Klosterman
Empowering Beauty in AfroArt with Kahran & Regis Bethencourt
Kahran & Regis Bethencourt, Kenna Klosterman
1. Empowering Beauty in AfroArt with Kahran & Regis Bethencourt
Empowering Beauty in AfroArt with Kahran & Regis Bethencourt
mhm. Hello, everyone. And welcome to Creativelive. Welcome back to Creativelive. I'm your host, Ken Klosterman, and we are here with another episode of Creative Live TV and the live filming of another episode of our podcast. We are photographers where we connect you with our favorite photographers, filmmakers, industry greats all around the world, from their home to my home to yours. And, uh, the whole purpose of the podcast is to connect with like minded creatives and to know that we're not alone in that creative struggle. The winds, the losses, the ups, the downs we are all in that crate of life together. And the more that we can connect on that, the more again we feel that we are connected and, um, go forward and keep creating. So I am super excited to have on Creative Live for the very first time current and Reg Bethancourt of they are the dynamic duo based in Atlanta, uh, the creatives behind creative soul photography. They are newly named Kanan, Explorers of Light. Congratulation...
s. And they also are newly New York Times best sellers with their gorgeous book that was just launched called Glory. And we're gonna talk a lot of it about that, Um and you know, they they some of their work. We'll talk about their offer. Art Siri's went viral on has led them. Thio just get a lot of beautiful attention on the work that they dio, whether that's from TV to magazines and all of the above. So wherever you are out there, please join me in the chat room, join me, give you comments about where you're tuning in from and help me welcome current. And Reg, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for having us. We're super excited. Awesome. Well, first of all again, like I just said, Congratulations on everything that's going on. I know it's a really busy time for you both, whether that's the launch of the book, um, as well as going on, you know, tour in a time when you know there's there's challenges to do that a swell as continuing to with your business on. But of course, the Siri's itself so and of course, your new dog pixel. Of course, of course, eso and becoming cannon explorers of like all of it. But I want to start with glory. Um glory, magical visions of black beauty and which starts actually with the Afro art Siri's and celebrating hair and just take take us to the origins. Um, if you have not seen this work, please go to their website to instagram right now. Absolutely gorgeous, but take us to the origins. Sure. So we started the Afro Art Siri's around 2017, and really, it was just to celebrate the beauty and versatility of Afro hair growing up. Um, you know, I didn't really It wasn't really celebrated on, Do you know, it was always taught to us that our hair had to be straightened in order to be acceptable. And so I wanted the next generation to, you know, feel a little bit more empowered. And so we started the Siri's where it was done in studio, and it was portrait's, but we wanted to kind of put our own spin on it. We wanted Thio do our own style, and so we would travel to different cities in the US on bond. We would do a different theme everywhere we went. So whether it was steampunk or Afro futurism or, you know, themes of the past, we were doing different things, and that's really how it started on. And as we started to do, more of those started to gain more attraction. And around the end of 2017 was when the Afro Art Siri's went viral. We had a blogger that asked us if she could blogged about the Siri's, and from there, all these sites just started to pick it up. And so, you know, that was really the beginnings of our Siri's. I mean, what did it feel like? Rich? Maybe this one's for you, because I know you're the You guys have the dynamic dude. Oh, the package t e mean Will Smith, Jonah Pinkett, Alicia Keys, Common E. I mean, they're all making noise about the Siri's. I mean, what does that? What does that feel like? Oh, man, it was surreal. Um, I still can't believe that people of that magnitude are giving us this attention or that we're doing anything that is getting this attention. But yes, I still can't believe it. It's one of those things that you just It's always surprising whenever it happens. Like Will Smith. We had no idea we were in California shooting at the time and our phone starts going off were like, What's going on? And people like, Congratulations, congratulations. I'm like, what is going on? And had no idea that he had made his own video about us. Uh, with voiceover, right at the time, we couldn't listen. Thio Instagram Post. So we just seen it? Yeah, we just thought that it was just supposed but yeah, it was amazing. I think it's just honestly, I think it's resonating with a lot of people because, um, it's something that is, you know, new and different and something that, um, is just really elevating black youth on a different platform and something that, um, not in the media today. I think there are a lot of negative stereotypes, and so this is kind of shattering a lot of those norms and a lot of those stereotypes. This is very necessary because if you get off this were already not being accepted just because of your hair, then you're already thinking that you know you're not accepted because your skin tone because of everything else it's just representation is like everything. I mean, it's it's everything and and that's why I I love the tie of empowerment, Aziz. Well, you know, with, you know, loving the skin that you're in loving the hair that you're in. What have you heard? You know, it's one thing Thio be celebrating that with adults. It's another thing to be celebrating that and empowering that with Children. Andi, almost, if you will, even more sort of impactful and, you know, long term and all of that, especially in an age of bullying of E. I mean, just so so many things rules, You know, all these things, um, that that our social, you know, injustice issues for kids in school. Um, and so what? Have you heard from the Children that have been part of the project? Yes. So we found that a lot of times they will come in a little shy, nervous about the process. But afterwards they are, you know, walking a little bit more proud. They're a little bit more confident. We hear all the time that you know from parents that a lot of times the kids were a little bit shy about their hair before, But now, after they've seen their pictures, they want to go to school. And, you know, they wanna wear it really big or they wanna, you know, experiment and do something different. And so that's really just been amazing to see, um, these kids and their reception thio the Siri's. And I think you know, a lot of times it's also allowing them Thio just kind of think outside of the box of the possibilities. You know, we I don't know if you're going to this later, but we highlight so many different stories and kids in the book. Glory on That was on purpose because we wanted kids to really be able to just see the range of things that they could they could aspire to be. You know, we have an eight year old neuroscience expert. There are musicians, they're activists. Um, there's so many different, uh, you know, kids that we included. So, you know, I wanted kids to just really be ableto looking at book and see themselves reflected Well, and that's what's so beautiful about it is you know not it is. You know, it's a glory, magical visions of black beauty like the magic part of it, uh, is, you know it is. I mean, it's fast, it's beautiful. But It's fascinating. And so I'm curious. If you could dive deeper into, like, how do you go from child? You know, whether it's parent bringing in the child or two. What is the theme? What is the look? Who are you collaborating with to make these amazing outfits and just sort of to make the whole thing come to life? Eso really, for a lot of our sessions are custom what we call customs sessions and so parents we usually kind of give them an opportunity to let the kids say We we have a question on our question here. That is, if you could have the shooting of your dreams, what would it be? Um, and it's actually been interesting because we get so many different. Uh, you know, things kids are kids are, you know, imaginative already. And so, you know, we had a girl who says I want, like, bubble like structures in my hair or, you know, I love robotics, but I want a regal type shoot, You know what I mean? Um and so that really allows us, Teoh, you know, dig in and get really creative. Um, And so after that, we're developing in mood boards were, You know, we have relationships with existing, um, designers and, you know, our hair stylist. And so we're all kind of collaborating before the shoot to pull it all together on Ben. But even though we do some coordination before, I don't like Thio, you know, have it down to a T. So we don't style exactly down to every accessory or, you know, something like that. Because I think for us, that's kind of where the magic happens is on the day of, you know, we kind of bring in the elements that we think will work for the shoe. And then the team is really working to put it together that day on gets really We're all kind of vibing off of each other and the child and their mood and, you know, there. Look, um, and as we're going about it, you know, we're thinking of new ideas. And, um, that's really how it goes. So, yeah, it was just like for kids like, Yeah, e. I said, you know, for us working with kids, I feel like we have, you know, we have, like, full creative control, right? Like kids are just an open book so they don't have the reservations that a lot of adults do. Someone just asked me the day like, Why won't you guys work with adults? I said wear. It was at the time we were actually in Philly and we had a We did a bubble bubble wrap theme. So we had our designer do bubble wrap fashion and I said, I just think about it. If I had told you that I was gonna put you in a bubble wrap dress s, you probably would would have some hesitation, right? But with kids, you know, it's just kind of freedom. Thio be fully creative and I love that. I mean, there's one of one of the social videos about, um I don't remember her name, but one of the girls in the book and she you know, she opens the book and she sees herself and just just the ability to see yourself differently than you know. Then you add She's beautiful, you know? She's like, I'm beautiful. Yes, yes, and she was only like, three of the time. But even for her to be able to see that right, like this three year old is seeing herself, you know, in a way that she had never even imagined on. But it's just something really special to see. I love it. You know? I think that's really what we drive off. That's the best part. Yeah. Was it always that when U. S So let's let's go back in time. Let's go back in time. How did you two meet? You know, it's there. There are several husband wife teams out there partner teams out there, but to make it last and make it work. Yeah, that's a whole other thing. Is that kind of money? Yes, for sure. So yeah, way actually met in 2004. I was, and I was actually living in Oregon at the time. Um, and Red was in Maryland, so it was a cross country long distance relationship, which is crazy. Um, but we were actually both into graphic design at the time, and we were, you know, attending these. We were on these graphic designer forums. It was like an urban graphic designer forum. And Reg was a moderator. And so he was He had access to the birthdays and he sent me a birthday wish. And so Yeah. So it was This was back in, Like what A well, instant messenger days. Right s Oh, yeah, s o e eso that that was That's actually how we met. Um, and the crazy part was that since we were a long distance, we were seeing each other every couple of months. Um, and we were doing these things called. This is before we even even thought about photography. But we were doing these things called photo dates on DSO. This was even before, and they were, like, dating ourselves, but there were no, like selfies, you know? So we're taking, like, our power shot or, you know, you know, cameras and actually taking pictures of each other until the next time we saw each other. That is one big arm. Yeah, And so then 2006 is when we moved to Atlanta on bond. Um, that's when Reg decided to go to school for photography. And, you know, I'm kind of the one that's always pushing. I'm like, Listen, you don't have to wait until after you graduate to start your business. We can start it right now. And so I started learning along with him and you know, that's really how we started. Started in my mom's garage. 2009. Yeah, amazing. I mean, there's a couple of things in their first of all, I love the vision of the selfies and write one arm weaker than the other because you're using our big, heavy cameras. I totally used to do that. Um, but the take me further into this concept of, um, pushing each other or, you know, you don't have to finish, um, school before we can start this. Like, it takes ah lot for people to start a business, especially if it isn't something you've studied. You know, if you're self taught or you know, those types of things on and starting out in a garage like take us back. Thio, What was it inside of you that allowed you to say, Let's do this? Yeah, I think we have been really good about kind of playing off of each other's strengths, right? Like, um, I, you know, kind of had a business background already. I was already in corporate America, so I kind of had that side. I had the marketing, that background, and so, you know, I was kind of like, Hey, I could help you out with that part. Like, you know, you just help me out with learning how to shoot and learning the technical side on dso That's really how we were starting. And so in the beginning, there was a lot of experimentation, right? Like there was a lot of us trying to figure out what it was that we liked. What we didn't like, I would say, like the first one, maybe four or five years. You know, maybe four years or so Was us just really shooting anything like, um, it was families or weddings or babies. Newborns, you know, you name it. Um And it kind of came a point in time where we were like, Why are we gonna build a business that we hate? Rightly we would we would shoot a wedding and we would come home and hate it. Or people booking wedding. Yeah, on dso That's when we really started doing a little bit of soul searching and trying to figure out like, Okay, what do we want this business to be right? Because you always say that as a couple working together, you know, just for us, there's not a lot. There's not a shut off button like I mean, you know, unless we have vacation or something like that, our work is ingrained into our home. Life is well, and so if we're not happy with the work that we're doing, then it makes it really difficult, you know, at home as well. So, you know, we really try to figure out what it was that we like. So we knew that we were always, um you know, we love photographing kids. We were always doing, you know, doing different concepts with them. And, you know, even we had a family shoot. We were, you know, taking the kids and pulling the kids to the side. Right? Way right, right, right, s So that's when we decided. Thio Way said, I say, try to start focusing on kids At the time, I didn't even know that. Um, you know, we could make a living from Onley photographing kids, you know, because I knew a couple photographers at the time that we're doing it. But back then, you know, I just I didn't really know a pathway or a way to do it. I just knew that that's something that we love to do. So it was a you know, for us, it was a bit of stepping out on faith because it was just driven by us wanting to build a business that we actually liked. Yeah, which is a bold and brave thing to Dio. And And you've been doing it for a long time now. So So So within that, you know, have there been bumpy times? Have there been? I mean, it's interesting because it's such the tip. Not typical, but yes. So many people myself included. You start out. You're like, What is it? Weddings? Something. No weddings for me, Isaac. Kids, is it? Whatever. But even once you honed in on its's kids in the way we do it. Mm hmm. Was it? Yeah. I was gonna say it definitely wasn't like it just jumped off. And then everything was all good, right? Um, there was definitely a journey, even after we decided to focus on kids. So we knew that, you know, we wanted Teoh be a little bit more creative with our kids work. So we jumped into, um, the kids fashion industry, and we were there. We noticed a couple of things. Number one. It wasn't very diverse at the time, Um, and two, that's when you know, we noticed that a lot of the kids with natural apple hair would come in to get head shots and other things, and they would have their hair straighten because they thought the parents thought that's what they needed to do to get their kid into the industry on DSO. That's really when we started to, you know, take on our own personal projects, you know, using kids with natural hair on, Did it? Really? You know, Now we look back and we're like, Oh, that was great. But at the time, it was definitely something that was difficult. It wasn't something that was necessarily just celebrated, You know, A lot of the kids fashion magazines were like, uh not sure you're the best fit, you know? Ah, lot of the, you know, style is that we work with. They had certain, you know, designers that we wanted to use that were not really, you know, the style that we wanted on DSO you know, honestly, there came a time when we had to just be like, You know what? We're just gonna do our thing the way that we wanted. And the audience that is meant to be that that is, you know, meant for, well, receive it and everyone else, you know, they will have to find someone else, right? And I think that was really the turning point for our business because, you know, it kind of freed us from having Thio, you know? Oh, my gosh, I have to do this in order to be accepted in the industry. Um, you know, it really freed us up to be able to do things our own way. Andi, that's really when we started to be able to get creative and, you know, develop our own brand in our own business. So it's such an important lesson because, you know, ultimately, if you said your brand your business, like is you and and when you try to be everything to everybody, it's not possible. And so there's that. But then there's also like holding true to what you feel You're here, Thio create in the world. Uh, when when we do that, everything falls into place, right? Like I feel like we always every time we kinda step out and do something that we're that you know that we know is not really meant for us. And, you know, it feels like we're forcing it. Um, And I you know, I always tell people in new photographers that, um, you know, don't get into anything for the money or get into it because you think that that's the direction that the industry is going because it never really works out that way. Yeah. Yeah. And so I feel like, you know, it's natural to us, because that's what we love to do. It's not something that we got into because, like, oh, this is direction that the industry is going or this is You know, where I think I could make the most money. Um, it was something that was authentic tow us and something that we really liked. And the transition was never It wasn't easy, you know, we went from two incomes that had to have only one income. Yeah, that was rough. And yeah, and even figure it out. You know, during the process, the process of actually running a business together. E Totally. Definitely. Gosh, it's crazy. I forgot about that. It was like that was just, you know, a few years ago that, you know, I remember. You know, when we first started out, I was like, Oh, I would see all these photographers and they're like, Oh, I quit my business in two years. I'm gonna quit my job in two years. And I was, like, seven years in right on. I was still in my full time job because I was like, you know, it's different when you have, ah, spouses doing something different. And then if it doesn't work out, then you know you have some backup. But I'm like, once I leave and that's it, you know, there's nothing. And so it took some time for us to really make that transition in that leave and feel comfortable enough to where we felt like we could We would be okay, so Well, I think that's also an important message, because to like you said, a lot of people are like, Take the leap on and it Z there's the sentiment of that. And then and then there's also the reality of it. And so so you you I believe you can do both, Um, when you when you don't do it on your own timing and your own. You know, you have to really assess your own situation. You know what's best for you and your family on DSO? Definitely. Don't try to base that off of anybody else's time. Uh, because I know it could be a lot of pressure, especially in the beginning. Like I feel like new photographers. You're always kind of soaking up much information as you can and you're on all the blog's and you know you're looking and such and such. Oh, they put their their job, you know? Yeah, so definitely you have to kind of pay your own way. So paving your own way. Um, let's go from you are doing the Afro Art Siri's. It's getting recognized. Will Smith is making videos about it. Thio deciding to make a book out of it. Um, and a coffee table book. Um, what is the What is the intention and what's your hope? Eso just in terms of the how we transition from the effort Art Siri's into the book. We actually were pretty lucky in terms of the syriza went viral. Our publisher found us, um and she was like, Listen, I don't have kids, but my future kids need tohave this book on DSO, she said. Let's figure out how to make that happen. And she really, you know, just walk us through the process. We had no idea of about book publishing or any of that. And so we were lucky in that regard. In terms of the actual book, um, you know, the actual art Siris was mawr focused on here and styling and fashion. But we wanted the book to really dig deeper and go into some of the stories behind some of these kids. You know, with the Afro Art series, we were able to meet so many different amazing kids that were doing, you know, just some amazing things. And we felt like we wanted Thio give them a platform to be able to see, you know, for the world to see some of the things that they were doing on give them a voice. And so that's really what we decided to do with the glory book was that we, you know, just dug a little bit deeper into the stories of each child. So you know, the photographs are one part, but it's also the stories about each one of these, um, amazing kids. Some are, you know, just regular, everyday kids with big dreams. And then others are, you know, making me rethink my childhood. Right? Tommy, tell us about one of them. Tell us about particular Kids. Always talk about a boy who was an eight year old neuroscience expert, right? Like what? No, she she understands college level neuroscience at the age of eight. Right on DSO Yeah, we have activist Trinity. Similar is, um you know, she has started her business. Um, you know, just kind of promoting self love. And she is e think she has. She's providing, like, books to prisoners and other things. Little Miss Flint, who is, um Gosh, she's just been doing so many amazing things in Flint, um, and providing water and water filters to the community in Flint. President Obama met with her, like just, you know, kids that are just pushing the envelope. But then we have the other spectrum as well. We have. You know, we, um, photograph kids in Jamestown, Ghana, who were, you know, they were not able to afford to go to school. And so they had to work, But then we have the opposite side of that In Ghana, we have an eight year old D j. Who you know, is rocking around the world right on dso You know, we really just wanted to show the variety in the spectrum of, you know, African American kids are African kids across the diaspora, So Well, I think and that's kind of one of the one of the themes kind of in your in the Afro art syriza at least is you know, the purpose of the statement saying purposes to illustrate the story of our royal past, the glory of the here and now and then there about the future. And so Okay, what was what was different for you? Because, like you said, you're in the in the African diaspora. What was different for you photographing in Ghana than or some other locations? And the Children, they're like, What did you learn about, um, self love? Self worth? They're versus the U. S. What is their different Actually surprising was that I feel like we all kind of have the same struggles, right? Like I you know, I guess I didn't expect for, um, you know we We are met with Zilliqa Patel in South Africa who was a little girl who started a protest to be able to wear her own natural Afro hair in South Africa. Right on dso you know, having those same struggles there. The girl there's a Maya and Darryl in Kenya who, you know, they were kind of pushing to be able to wear their locks in school, you know, um and so you know, a lot of it was, you know, the same struggles. But then one thing that I loved was being able to incorporate their heritage and their culture and it as well. So when we went to Kenya, we kind of did. We paid homage. Thio the Messiah tried there, and we wanted Thio, you know, kind of bridge that gap. I feel like a lot of times, um, you know, youth, They kind of, you know, just into what's what's cool right now and kind of forgetting about some of the traditions of the past. And so, you know, we kind of took inspiration from the Masai tribe in the Masai culture. But then we had our designers make something that was, uh, you know, more current, you know, kind of our current take on the side fashion. So that was our way of kind of bridging that gap. And that was really cool to see. I think you know, a lot of not just the kids there, but the parents as well, really appreciated that because they don't want those traditions most culture, that culture to be lost. So traditional culture is a very strong part of our, you know, our lives. And it's just important to reintroduce that to the kids. Yeah. Yeah. And for us, it's really You know, I'm always trying to figure out a way to do it in a cool way, because we are working with kids and everything is, you know, social media. And, you know, they have so many pressures, right? So even if you know, when we're photographing Amoy as a scientist, I'm trying to figure out how could I make her the coolest scientists that you've ever seen, right? Like, I wanna make science look really cool on. Do you know the same with the other things that we photographed as well? Science is cool. It is. It is. And this is coming from, uh I was. My major was computer science, so I'm a tech geek, right? I'm always in awe of the science is cool. Yes, I'm always in all of the scientists. Yes, Yes s Yes. I'm curious. Current. You said they're a little bit ago. It made some of these air making my me rethink my childhood. And I actually wanna, like, take that to a serious Like what? For both of you. But what has it taught you about your childhood, or have you seen yourself in a different light? Um, tell me about Reg. Tell me about you as a kid. Were you creative? Were you? What were you into, like, is it? Tell us about the evolution. Where did you grow up? I grew up in, um, Maryland and, uh, in Oxon Hill, Maryland. And I was typical kid in tow. Ultron Transformers and just giant robots. And, yeah, I drew a lot. That was, like a big part of my creative, you know, adventure And, uh, man, like my experience, uh, growing up it is a little bit different from hers because I'm half black and half Filipino, so I was considered the child with good hair on. I lived in a pretty much all black neighborhood. So, like everybody said, I had good hair. So even even though I was young, I knew it was an issue. You know what I mean? Because I wanted to have here like them, but they wanted to have here like minds, and it was just were saying, Like, my friends come over and they would spend hours with my my aunt and my mom just touching their hair looking at I mean, it was an issue, Um, within the African American community, just just kind of accepting of our own textures. And for me, um, you know, in terms of hair, like I said, I my hair was relaxed. X x six I never knew my own natural hair. And so until I was well into my twenties on DSO Yeah, it was It was really ah process for me, you know, even having toe learn how to accept, You know, my own hair, my own curls, you know, everything else learned. You know how Just learn about everything. Really? On dso That was a process for me in terms of, you know, creatively. Um I was definitely always the child. That was I guess I had a little bit of both the left brain and right, Right, Because I liked the creative stuff, but I also had the technical side on dso I was doing, you know, kind of a little bit of both. I was I was really into, you know, back then it was the early computer days, but computers and we're processes. But I was also, you know, always kind of doing crafts and making things eso that kind of spilled over into, you know, our adult life. And then once we once I graduated college, Andi started working. I was working in, um, you know, the computer science field. But I still needed that creative outlet. And so that's when I started doing, you know, the graphic design just to give me that that creative freedom. And that's kind of how we joined forces and came together because we were both, you know, kind of moonlighting with graphic design and playing around with that so that, you know, that was kind of our creative outlet it Most importantly, I feel like we never really let imagination died. I feel like that's a heart that is kind of silly, going away with just social media and just being distracted with. You don't really have to use that anymore. I mean, so I feel like us having just a sense of imagination is very important. Yeah, it's a beautiful word. Yes, to use for your work, and it's because it's it's YouTube, um, and the teams that you work with having imagination around it. And yet it's also serving. The child is being photographed to have some imagination and have an experience as well, which you don't forget. Andan also for the viewers they it pushes people's imagination. E always say that if people see you know our behind the scenes or if they see the process of this unit, it feels like a creative factory, right? Like you literally have the hairstylist. You have us and you have a table full of accessories and you know the kid. And we're all just kind of making magic and putting everything together. But it's a really cool process. Oh, and yes, and And what a gift I'm curious about, then the from your from a business perspective, you also work with brands eso in the sort of same genre of kids fashion. Uh, tell me about how that evolved, how they balance with each other. Yeah. So again, I think that was another thing that just kind of fell in our left. Um, it was, you know, we were doing our thing, you know, just photographing kids. We once we started photographing kids with natural hair. What we noticed was that a lot of brands started to reach out. There was so around the time that we started photographing kids with natural hair, the natural hair industry also started booming. Right. So now you can go into a target and you see a full section of hair products for natural hair, right? Like that was not existing when I was growing up. Or, you know, even just a few years ago on DSO Now a lot of these brands were looking for they were starting to grow, and they were looking for photographers who could, you know, not only understand their their audience, but also, um, create images that would, um that would be compelling to them. And so they saw the work that we were doing and, you know, they came to us and said, Hey, can you guys do what you're doing? But do help us do it for our brand. Um, and that was actually a really good place to be because, you know, it didn't take us too far out of our box or our comfort zone. You know, we still got to dio, you know, mostly the types of the type of work that we wanted to do. We're just, you know, working with a few more requirements and, uh, you know, making it work for a particular brand. So and that kind of replace the money we were making for from weddings and yeah, and other things. Yeah. So that also helped us to really start toe, you know, hone in a bit more on our Children's work, And is that, uh, my thought was I wonder what they enjoy more. Or is it is it? Is it different? Is it different when it's somebody else's kind of, is, it is, And I will be honest. Um, the thing that we enjoy most are just regular when we get the photograph. Just regular, everyday kids like, um, you know, I feel like we have one there a couple of reasons why one is that the kids often times you know they're not models. They don't really get that opportunity often. And so for them, this is like the biggest thing of their year. Like they are getting this full played a you know, makeover in X's and experience for them. The parents are excited, the kids are excited. So we're excited on DSO That's really when we are in our element, I think, um and you know, even though we like the brand work, it's just a lot more pressure. Obviously, on DSO it's, you know, you know, and you don't have as much of the creative freedom that we dio with our our other work. But, you know, luckily, we've been ableto work with brands that are still kind of true to what we do. So it's not too far outside of the box for us. But yeah, we do love working with just everyday kids, right? Yeah. Yeah, it is. It is so a little bit more on your business. You travel yes to dio photo shoots. Can you explain or just talk a little bit about how you why you decided to do that? Was it to expand the market, Was it like? And how has that worked for you? Sure, really? We You know, once our social media president started to grow a bit more, we were getting Parents are like, Oh, my gosh, I wish you were in New York. I wish you were in California. I would love to have something like that here. And so, you know, it was really it started as an opportunity for us to, you know, give those kids that same opportunity on DSO we decided, Okay. Lets you know, we kind of we started a mailing list. Were like, We know that, you know, we have a big base in New York and California, so let's try it on. Duh. Honestly, a lot of it was trial and error in the beginning. Eso for the first couple of years, we had to try to figure out, you know what it was that was working What, you know wasn't working. Um, you know, we tried a few different things, like, Okay, do we let me tell the parents to bring things, Do we bring? You know, it was a lot of trial and error on DSO. Now we've kind of gotten it down mostly to a science. There are always hiccups, right? But yeah, You know, for the most part, we like Thio, you know, be a one stop shop. It just makes honestly, it makes it a lot easier. And it's a lot easier for our clients as well. Pretty much All they have to do is show up, right? And so we handle everything else for them and we You know, when we travel, we'll do a different theme. So we just went to Philly. We had bubble wrap theme. When we went to D. C. We did kind of, ah, self empowerment body art. We worked with a local body artists there on DSO. You know, it's really just allowing us thio reach a broader audience. But we're also able to connect with other creatives that we are not usually able to work with when we're here in Atlanta. So, like I said, we work with Sierra Lenin, Um, NBC. And you know she does this amazing body art. We wouldn't be ableto get that here. So, you know, we're able to, you know, just get creative and outside of the box when we travel and do different things. So we we love it. It gets a big daunting at times. But I think we you know, it's something that we still love to do. It just kind of breaks us out of our creative rut. You know, a lot of times when we were shooting the same things that were in the same location. Um, you know, it allows us to work with different people and just, you know, do some things that are a little bit different. I think it's that that added collaboration, like you said, where you have the opportunity thio, um, continue to collaborate with different people that but that you've figured out how to also, like, systematize it in a way where, like you said, you learn trial and error. But then once you hone in on Okay, Now, this is how this is how it best works for us for our clients on. I think you know, a lot of times people are think they have to have it, right? Yeah. Get, Go. Yeah. What were some of the things that didn't work? Yeah. So number one Waas age limits way. So yeah, we did not think to do that on our first one. Um, and a lady bought, like, think it was two years old, one or two year old, two years old, and, yeah, that did not work out well. And so after that, we implemented our age, you know, ranges, ones that actually work for the type of work that we dio. And so that was one, Um, the other was, you know, obviously with clothing and styling. Like I said, the beginning, we were letting some of the parents bring things and, you know, that didn't work out all the time. And so now you know, we made it easier to where we, you know, bring everything ourselves. The other thing was working with hairstylist. Um, you know, we're We've kind of been back and forth with that we've had. In the beginning. We had one stylist that was traveling along with us, but that made, you know, made some things a little bit difficult to, um And so then we moved into a model of having, um you know, we have a hairstyles that we work with in New York, and one in California is so different locations, not for every state, but, you know, in regions and that worked out well, cut down on travel expenses. And it also allowed us to be, um, like I said, work with different creatives and get their own take on it because everyone that we work with, they have their own strength that they bring to the table. And so, you know, it allows us thio get creative as well. I mean, that's such the striking thing about so many of the images is the sculpture nature of, you know, a lot of the hair. Do you like, do you sketch things? Is that all I want is the collaboration Thio on the hair itself? Yeah. So our stylist, our main stylist that's here in Atlanta with us. We have you know, we've been working together for a while on DSO We have a relationship now to where I can kind of give her our overall mood border overall concept, and she can take it from there, right? Like, yeah, eso that actually works out really well because, you know, before it was, you know, when we first started out, we were still learning each other, and so I was kind of giving her specific things that I wanted on bat was fine, and she was able to knock it out. But now you know, we're at a point where, like, because some of the things that she comes up with I would never be able to think of, right. Like, there's just no way I would never think of, you know, the things that she that she could dio and vice versa. So, um, it gives her more of ah, you know, outlet to be to have more freedom. Um, and I trust her enough to know that she gets our style. She knows what we liked, what we don't like, um, so that, you know, she could make that work. So that's really you know how we make it happen. The same with We have one designer that we work with when we do need custom pieces. Um, and she is the same way. Like I could give her, you know, concept. We've been working together for over, like, five years now, and so I can give her, you know, I just told her I think a few yesterday I said, we're going to do like a fire. This girl wants a fire theme on I was like, But can you make it less fiery? Right? And she knew exactly what I was talking about. So somehow, you know, we just make that work. So, yeah, it makes it a lot easier when you know were ableto work with people that understand our region. So that's why it's really I'm really big on, you know, connection on Dvir vibes, when in terms of teams because it's just so important, makes it so much easier when you're ableto find team members that understand your vision and that you could just, you know, let them run with it. You don't want hair artist will make up artist. That's just their collective check and just run, you know? Yeah, there because that's what they enjoy. They dio Well, it's such especially with what, what you're creating with them. It's such a It's an art, you know. Like I said, it's like a living sculpture on bond. And then it's captured and you know, the stories and all of that. Um, I'm curious. You talk about kind of again going back to sort of your what you stand for creative soul photography. Well, first of all, let's tell me about the name creative soul photography. How did you land on that? So the funny thing was, um, creative soul photography actually started as creative soul designs. Eso this was back in my space days again. We're dating ourselves, but we When we first got together, we thought that our business that we were going to do together, we knew that we wanted to work together some way, just didn't know how the beginning, Um and we thought that we were gonna be, um, in the web and graphic design business together. Um, and that was a no go. Why? Yeah. No, that is not gonna work. Because we were I was, you know, I had kind of the corporate background, um, and kind of knew that side of it. He is definitely like creative artists. E Yeah. I was like, e. He was, like, in his feelings, right? Eso that did not work out for eso, eso and we and we came up with that because it was like to creative souls coming together on DSO. Then when we decided to start our photography business, we were like, Let's just keep the creative soul and just make it photography so Yeah, that's that's actually how it started. It's, um it's a It's a great story, but also, I mean it, really. The the soul part really encapsulates sort of your mission. Um, you know, and then just, you know, all all the layers is, um it's, uh, eso. Okay, so you talk about believing that everybody deserves to truly be seen eso going beyond just those typical snapshots. So I want to know a little bit more about what it means for you to be seen. Um, as artists, as photographers just named Kanan Explorers of light. Um, what does that mean for you? Honestly, it's huge, Bond. I'll tell you what I think. You know, we first starting out and we were going to some of the conferences and things like that, and I kind of had, you know, we were still trying to figure out our brand in our business, and we kind of knew, annoy, idea of like where we wanted to go. But I would look at some of the speakers that were there, and I didn't feel like that. That was something that we could actually dio because I didn't see it. I didn't see, um you know, number one? I didn't see a lot of African American speakers there. Um and not only that, but the ones that even the ones that were there I didn't see a lot that, you know, had primarily focused on a primarily African American audience, right? And so I was like, Oh, my gosh, there's no way we could make a living actually doing this right on dso you know, And, you know, even from that, you know, just being able to step outside of the box and do something that was so outside of the realms of what was the norm. You know, it was, you know, I just felt like Okay, I have no idea if this is even gonna work. So for me, I You know, I hope that other photographers that are out there that may be in that same situation that I feel like maybe they want to do something a little bit different or, you know, they don't want to go this certain route that they see, you know, all of the platform speakers do or whatever that you know, they feel like they can actually do it too. And then they can, you know, do their own thing and still reach the levels that they want to reach. So, you know, it's super important for us to be ableto have that represent representation and show other photographers that it is possible because, like when you go to these conferences and you don't see yourself, you don't see somebody of your race there. You don't start to think that maybe you're not gonna make it because you know, just everything that comes with that. But so it's definitely important to be seen because I just started believing in myself until I started seeing that they were black photographers that could actually make it. So Yeah, it's it's huge for us. Yeah. So tell me about then. We are looking forward. Um, because again, you're your stories around, You know, the book and the Siri's is, you know, looking back, looking now and, um, looking forward. Oh, and I'm I'm wondering what what is your hope for? For sort of feature photographers? Um, the kids, the You know yourselves. I know those are kind of very different questions, but, uh, let's start with you know, photographers. What do you say further to you know, to other photographers out there, whether it's black photographers, you know, other people who are just, you know, feeling like they're starting to be seen. Or, um, yeah, what are your words of wisdom? Yeah, I definitely think that messages, um, you know, if there is no land, create one s. So don't be afraid to step out of the box. And do you? You know, I really feel like our business started to thrive when we did that, when we kind of blocked everything else out, whether it was industry or, you know, um, you know, clients or other things and really just focused on, you know, delivering great work. Um, then we were able to have opportunities that honestly kind of came to us because we were in our lane and we were in our element. So, you know, don't get too caught up in, you know, trying toe. You know, it's yes, it's great toe, have ambitions, and, you know, things that you are looking forward to, but really keep the focus on just delivering great work. Um, and everything else will fall into place along with, uh, if you're following, like somebody's business track and it may not be for you. And if it doesn't work, you know, just a just, you know, just you don't you don't quit, Just adjust, you know? And I feel like in the beginning, like a lot of photographers, you know, they kind of fall into, Oh, I have to do exactly what this photographer that's teaching tells me to do whatever on. But it's great to get you know that as a starting point, but you really have to figure out a way to make it your own and make your own business. Um, you know, don't think you have to follow directly into your mentor, whether it's a virtual mentor or our speakers foot footsteps. You know, you want to figure out a way to eventually make that on your own. And I mean, that's just the most important thing, right? Kind of always comes down to when you talk. Thio. People who are successful in their career is sort of being true to yourself. And, you know, not trying to be somebody to everybody. The personal projects, you know, and then, you know, just again, like adjusting as different things come about, you know, you're not going to get it right every time, Uh, a kind of a, like, final question. But what gives you hope in this moment? I mean, your book is your glory. It's very hopeful. Um, again beautiful. Powerful. Where do you find hope right now? Um, really, It's in the kids that we work with, you know? Yeah. Just saying just seeing them and seeing, uh, you know, even now, like just seeing kids that are embracing who they are so early, you know, an early age like we You know, a lot of times we we hear from parents and said, Oh, my gosh, I wish we had this growing up right on dso seeing these kids that are able to really just step out there so early and be confident who they are and, you know, do these different amazing things that gives me hope because I'm like, gosh, if they are, you know, doing this now, imagine what they're going to be doing when they're in their twenties and thirties and forties. A big part of it really is. Just, you know, But we didn't get as kids was the support of our parents, and we had this kind of artistic, you know, talent, you know, or just any kind of intelligence, whatever they never like nurtured that. They just, you know, they wanted us to follow this certain basic track. Eso it's really allowing them toe have that space to, you know, be creative and do these different things. And that's what I'm noticing with all these kids that we run into. That s O awesome man, is that their parents are really nurturing, you know, whatever they're doing. Yeah, that's really cool. So, yeah, that definitely gives us hope. Well, the book gives me a ton of hope is Well, and just again, if if you guys are just shooting in, you're just hearing this. Please, please go. Um, check out the book. It's ah, we're coming close to December. Now it's a great time for gifting eso. I wanna make sure that I want to make sure everybody knows where they can find you. Follow you all all of those things. Yes. Eso You can find us on the Web at creative Soul photo dot com and on instagram and Facebook at Creative Soul Photo. Ah, and there's information about the glory book on our website as well. I was going to say, and the book can be on the work just actually anywhere where books were sold. Amazon target all the local bookstores. Um, so, yeah, we would love to have your support. We're so excited to just have it out there and share it with the world. Makes a great holiday gift. Uh, uh huh. T b New York Times Bestsellers E There's a There's some hope in a gift and all of it, uh, I do want Thio before we head out. We are going to play a trailer for the book. So tell us about creating a trailer for a book and e mean in and of itself is inspirational. And I just loved it so much and it's stylistic and, you know, brings it all together, But tell us just before we roll out, tell us about the promo that people are going to see. A little first thing is that I'm so proud because are the person we are mentoring as a kid, I think start mentoring. 12. 13. Yeah, he's the one who created the trailer for us. Eso he's been our assistant for forever. We we've captured him for forever. Um, and he'd actually moved away to China last year and then covert hit. And so now he's back. Um and, uh, you know, it was really his. His baby was I told him I was like, a J We want to dio a trailer for our book. And I wanted it to be something that was cinematic but still was true to our style. Andi, he really just took the ball and ran with it. I was I was blown away. I did. He he, uh yes, he over delivered on this project. And so we were just super proud Thio be able to share it and use it as a way Thio really get people excited about the book, you know, just really kind of sing. Uh, our I guess our photos come to life and video is really cool. Well, it's absolutely gorgeous. Great job. Shout out to a J and, um yeah, super talented And again, it's been such a pleasure to have both of you. You're on creative life. Yes, thank you so much. This is fun. And we had finally I haven't even done my shoutouts shout outs from people who have been tuning in from Seattle. Alton in Mesa, Arizona. Sue is in Curse out. Uh, books say I love this. Rice also had just ordered my copy. Ugo. Awesome. Uh, and Emmanuel on YouTube saying congratulations to the two of you. So thank you. Thank you. Everybody for tuning in. Uh, this has been another live recording of our podcast. We are photographers. You are. This is episode 101 s So you guys can all check out the previous 100 episodes, whether it's on creativelive dot com slash podcast or wherever it is that you stream your podcasts. We love to hear from you in terms of who you'd like to see on the podcast and who would like to see on creative live in general. And just so grateful for our global community all around the world and very grateful for current and Reg. So thank you again and everybody will see you next time. But for now, enjoy that video. Thank you, E. These belong to anyone. Okay. Who are you? I'm glory. A virtual reality database that allows you to look into past, present or future time periods so you can show me any time, period? Yes, Any you'd like. Do you have one in mind? The 19 sixties. Can I help you? See? Anywhere else has the ancient Rome. No, wait. 1600 2020 please. Is that where you've decided? Yes, please. Yeah. Tonight Schools across the country empty the rush to contain Cove in 19 giving millions of parents Ah, brand new job. Hello, Barry, please recharged. What will glory show you? Where will glory take You Grab a copy to experience the journey at any time, Yeah.
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