Pursue Your Dreams at all Costs
Like I said, I really don't see there's any point of holding back anything that you really wanna do and really wanna pursue. Like I said, I've always grown up like a sneaker head. Having a pair of Nike's in New York back home was like everything. You didn't wanna be the kid that went to school with Presley sneakers. It was the worst thing ever. I remember when my mom bought me Payless sneakers before I had the Sega controller and people reamed me for days for it. Being able to like, being the kid that we used to, I don't know where the other shoe was. I don't know what happened. I've always been obsessed with Nike's and basketball sneakers and the New York Knicks and all this kind of stuff that I've really been obsessed with all my life. Then when I started in photography, I mean actually before I started in photography, I remember one of my friends, I never said this before out loud, I need to say this, one of my friends before I was an associate he told me before I really started tak...
ing photos he's like what kind of photos do you wanna take? What do you wanna do? I was like I don't know I wanna do some National Geographic kind of stuff. I wanna travel. I wanna see the world. He's like how are you gonna do that? The way he said it was so negative. I'm like what do you mean how? I'm just gonna go do it, you know. Like five years later, we were having a conversation like basically saying I can't believe you're actually just did everything that you wanted to do. I mean I'm trying to make it seem simple, but there's a lot of work that goes into this. A lot of it is all manifest destiny kind of stuff. If you really wanna be in a situation you will put yourself in that situation. With me I've always wanted to work with Nike. I love Nike. I love the Coby Bryant campaigns. I loved all of it. Kevin Durant was one of my favorite players. Then I had to actually had a chance to shoot Kevin Durant for Nike at Texas University which was his alma mater. Being able to use my street photography styles and everything that I've learned over the last five years. I've been able to use the same kind of stuff that helped work with brand partners and clients. The people that I aspired to work with the most. Working with K.D. was one of my favorite things. I was so nervous the whole time cause I was like, this dude is huge. I'm 6'1" and his arms are longer than my body. He was a really nice guy and he was cool about it. Just to see how he treated his craft, it made me appreciate being a photographer more and made me feel more comfortable with being a photographer because being a professional basketball player and seeing them actually practice is a different level of intensity and focus that you really just can't see on television. This is his long arms like I was saying. It makes no sense, seriously. Also, like I said I love the Knicks, the Knicks are one of my favorite teams. I had the opportunity to work for the Knicks for Black History month. They hired me as one of their photographers. I worked with them for the month of February. They let me go to three different games. They let me go to their practice. The same kind of things that I've always, I mean I grew up crying when the Knicks lost to Michael Jordan every single time. Now, being able to actually be in the Knicks practice facility, to be working with the coaches, working with the players and still being myself and doing my street photography style is one of the biggest blessings that I ever could imagine. The biggest pro tip of the day that I feel like you could have is I feel like everything looks better in black and white. (audience laughing) Honestly, it's the truth. I suck at editing colors now. I say that all the time because I feel like colors are just distracting. I feel like the deeper that I get into photography the more connected I feel with black and white photography. The nostalgic feeling of it and the deep contrast. It makes you focus on your subject and let's your brain does the work rather than you dictating everything all the time. Just going through a couple different black and white photos I've shot throughout time. One of these photos are really crazy to me 'cause not only does he have three stripes on his sneakers, but the gates have the reputation. Then this dude is slumped on a hot L.A. day. This feels like downtown L.A. This is what you see down there. I feel like having colors would have made it a little distracting. You would have been focusing on something else. This is right up the block from my house. If you know anything about Bed Stuy and Brooklyn, we have a crazy Hasidic Jewish community. You would see everybody hanging on the corner. People of color on the corner, then you would just see a mob of Hasidic Jewish people just running across the street. If you ever, like to me is like one of the craziest things ever to see. It's been like that forever over there. I just try to incorporate like shooting this in color you wouldn't get the same kind of noir vibe of this dude in a hat and the shadows on the wall and stuff like that. The texture and feel of the graffiti that feels like Brooklyn to me. This is during one of the Nike campaigns that I had to shoot recently. This is for the Just Do It 30 year campaign. I was working with one of these kids. My whole job was to shoot BTS and make it super candid as possible. I always try to compose people within people to give more context instead of directly just shooting straight on. This kid was literally just screaming at somebody. Don't foul me or something like that. I caught that shot. I just feel like it looks way more impactful in black and white. Recently I got to shoot Slick Rick and French Montana in Drake's new video. Since seeing Slick Rick I don't know what to say about Slick Rick, you know. He was the first rapper that I used to record on the tape cassette and wrote down his lyrics word for word in my composition notebook. Now being able to shoot photos with Slick Rick for a French Montana and Drake video is absolutely insane. The same thing the color edits would have been cool, but at the same time it wouldn't have the impact, the nostalgic factor that I feel without it. He's sipping tea with his eye patch on. How gangster is that? This is a photo I was standing behind the car trying to level it up. Then, when he finally made eye contact with me I snapped the photo. It's just something in my head that I knew immediately this is gonna be a black and white photo. You still get to see the Gucci steering wheel, which is really, really tight. This is one of my favorite photos also. Every photo I think is my favorite photo honestly. I guess I can say that about every picture. This is the Lords of the Dogtown vibe kind of stuff that I bring my skateboard. We went shooting with my skateboard friends in these random tunnels in L.A. Shooting it like blowing out the exposure in the background and keeping it black and white. The colors were kinda nasty a little like brown and green. It gave a weird blue in the background. I don't need all that. The black and white makes it super simple and you get the point. It just communicates that fact that this feels like Lords of the Dogtown. Finally, don't live to pay your rent. This is one of the things that was the most truest things that my dad's ever told me. When I used to, before I came a photographer, I used to have these long, my dad is a very persistent, animated person. I'm pretty much a weak version of my dad. He's definitely very persistent because he's been an electrician for 35 years. A black electrician running his own business. That's kinda like foreign especially in that time. He was always really on me. That's honestly a lot of the inspiration of me even starting this magazine and starting this creative agency is because a lot of what my dad has really instilled in me. I used to always get into these situations where I would get these dead end jobs or doing these quick little things to pay my rent quickly. He told me the reason why you're not happy and you're not successful or anything is because you're living to pay your rent. Don't live to pay your rent. The minute that he told me that like at 25 years old, I really held that true to my life because to that moment I was always hustling to pay my rent or pay my bills. Just to making sure ends meet. The minute that I stopped caring about that and not saying that I started becoming a nomad I just invested more time into what I actually love. Investing time into what I love, it got me way more money in the first place because the work speaks for itself. It has more love and passion into it. To close it off I would just share with you guys as well too, just don't live to pay your rent. Photography is a very expressive thing. It's just art and creativity in general. There's gonna be a lot of hardships in the road, but that only just develops character. That's how I'm here talking with you guys today.
Street photographers usually focus on capturing the city dwellers, street scenes, and structures of urban environments. But what happens when they venture outside the city? Is it possible to translate their unique urban style to a more suburban or even rural landscape? Well-known street photographer Steve Sweatpants will show you how to utilize your technical skills and artistic perspective wherever you are—whether it’s a frenetic metropolis or beautiful landscape.
In this class, you’ll learn how to:
- Diversify your portfolio with a variety of geographies and landscapes.
- Recognize the tone and color grading that make an impactful image.
- Use a variety of post-processing techniques to enhance and perfect your photos.
Even if telling urban stories is your specialty, this course will help you discover new ways to incorporate your street style into imaginative and exciting imagery.