Why I Love Photography
This is hilarious. Hey guys, how ya doing? Just for some insight, I was always the kid to get kicked out of class. So it's now funny to be the kid in front of class (laughs). (audience laughs) So, thank you for stopping by, and hearing me ramble about my insight on photography and stuff. I'm not the most technical guy, so I try to keep things very simple because I feel like photography is a very deep concept in general. I said I like to keep it simple, and I really try to focus on the reasons why I love photography. Why I love photography in the first place is because I love family photos. Looking at family photos for me was absolutely everything. I'm 31 years old, so we used to get the Kodak packs from Walgreens, and you used to open them up and then used to go through 'em. The photos were all, some of them were kind of weird, but they still gave you this feeling of family and connection, so that all these sentimental things that I thought was really cool. Let's break some ice and loo...
k at embarrassing baby photos. This is the why I'm wearing a do-rag right now, actually, it's because this little baby noggin head, this is me and my parents. My parents are both from New York, as well too. My mama's from Brownsville, my dad is from actually South Carolina but grew up in Crown Heights, and I'm from East Flatbush. Seeing photos like this is one of those little things that now I used to be a little chicken nugget with my parents and stuff like that, and now I'm just an old man. This is me and my sister. I don't know why we're hanging out in the bed looking like just deviants, but it's little things like this it just emotes so much emotion for me, so I always try to keep it, like I said, like to keep it really simple and really focus on these little moments of embarrassing times with your family and stuff. This is me and my mom again. I'm a mama's boy if you can't tell. (audience lightly laughs) But I think all the stuff like that with family photos like I said, like to keep it simple because, especially when it comes to street photography, there's a lot of empathy and connection that you have to do with people that you shoot with. And I didn't have an art school background. I went to high school for computer repair, and then the first day of my computer repair class, my teacher said it's cheaper to buy a new computer. So I was pretty much always looking for something that actually was true to what I wanted to do and what I wanted to invest into. I worked at GameStop, I've worked at Express, I worked at Sears, I worked as a custodian, I worked at Bloomberg, I worked at Fox News. I worked at literally every single job and every single platform to know that I'm tired of investing my time into other things that are not actually invested into me. When I started taking photos, actually my first camera that I got was a Nikon D2100, and I borrowed it from one of my friends who was a rapper, and I thought I was gonna be helping him with his rap career and taking photos of him, and that kind of stumbled me into that whole Instagram community, and I met a lot of people like Dave Krugman, who's one of my good friends who actually lives not too far from me, and a bunch of really talented photographers that I never knew and never had access to photography in the first place. Getting into photography for me was, like I said I had invested my time into all these other things like video games and Bloomberg, but I never invested my time into actually what I wanted to do. I started taking crazy photos. I got to go on New York on Air, the helicopter rides. This is actually one of my favorite photos that I've ever taken. This is during one of the photo shoots with one of my good friends, and that building in the background actually where you see the smoke billowing up, a building blew up that day, which was insane. If you ever heard the story of New York, and then that building's still not there to this day, but we were taking photos and stuff like that with one of my good friends, so I kind of feel it shows you the duality of how serious things could be. This is one of my good friends from Street Dreams actually, Darnell. This goes back to the whole kind of family photo kind of things, of just doing weird things with your friends and hopefully it looks cool sometimes. And I really like Michael Jackson, I've told him it would be cool if you leaned like Billie Jean or something like that. And then I used to, running around at night with my friends. This photo was on my birthday actually, in the fog photo, and the other photo was one of my good friends (mumbles), who's another incredible photographer. Photography was one of those things that, like I said, I didn't have an art school background. I barely got out of high school (laughs), but what I did invest my time into and what I really did love is the community aspect of linking up with your friends and feeling like family, and just really exploring all those things together and stuff. It was just really important to me to really just try to capture these moments with my friends and stuff. This is another photo that I caught actually with one of my good friends, Rahim. I hang out with him all the time. He goes by Black (mumbles). We shot this on one of the, on top of the hotels on 42nd Street. And then we actually got kicked out of the building (laughs) on the way down. It's a little embarrassing, but we definitely got the shot. I think that was pretty cool. This is my boo. Where's she at? Hey, boo. (audience lightly laughs) This is actually during winter storm Juno I believe, and this is right around the corner from our apartment. Just going down to the store for 15 minutes just to get a bag of chips (laughs), and then we get a really sick photo like this. I really don't know where I would be in my life without photography, and the same thing goes for the magazine that I run. As you alluded to a little bit earlier, I'm a co-founder and director of a magazine called Street Dreams Magazine. The whole purpose of the magazine is to create an equal-level playing field for all of our peers. When we first started off with photography, we never had a chance to be published or have anybody to look at our work, so instead of competing so much, to feeling this is a competition all the time, we rather made it collaborative and made it an open door policy that we could all work with each other, instead of trying to compete with each other all the time. Everything with Sweet Dreams that we really try to promote is waking up and doing what you love. It's not about street photography. It's not trying to be cool. It's about literally just people who love to hustle and want to chase their dreams. I started the magazine. I'm not the original co-founder. Eric Veloso with Mike C. are I'm like the baby brother out of the group. Eric's the middle child, and Mike's the oldest. If it wasn't for Eric and Mike. So this is Eric actually, and Eric with Celine. This is the first day we actually met each other. If it wasn't for them with their vision, what we wanted to do, I really wouldn't even have these opportunities even to be talking to you guys about photography in the first place. So the crazy story about meeting Eric was, I actually met him through my barber (laughs). My barber is one of my best friends, and he also talks a lot, but he's also, barbers know everybody. That's like if you need to know anything, you can go to your barber or your hairstylist or whatever, and you can pretty much know anything you need to know. And AJ is pretty much like that for me. AJ knows a bunch of people. One of the people he knew was Celine because his girlfriend at the time used to work at this place called Aritzia. And Celine worked at Aritzia, and Eric was getting familiar with my work cause I was really starting to use Instagram. I had maybe 2,000, 3,000 followers at the time. But I really tried to display my New York style and my New Your aesthetic through my photos, and Eric really wanted to meet me. AJ also throws a lot of different kind of functions at his barber shop and the studio. At one of these functions, Eric was there, but I didn't even know it was him. I'm also possessed with sneakers. I just noticed a guy with really cool sneakers on. Like, "Man, Those sneakers are tight." He's like, "Thanks, dude." And then AJ was like, "Oh yeah, let me introduce you to somebody. "He's Eric." I was like, "Oh, was the guy with the tight sneakers." So we're already friends already. So the next day (laughs), it's a real story, (audience lightly laughs) the next day, he's been to New York a couple times, but he's never walked across the Williamsburg Bridge, and I live in Bed-Stuy, so the Williamsburg Bridge is really close to us. I told him me, you and Celine we should all walk over the bridge, and just check it out and shoot some photos. And this is where we came up with the whole concept of Street Dreams Magazine this day. At first it was supposed to be just an online magazine with just me and his work, but I've met so many people through the photography community, like I was sayin', like Dave and Sylvan, other friends we kind of started together, that it felt kind of selfish just to put me and Eric's work into the magazine by ourselves. So I was like, let's make it a whole group thing. Let's add all these other guys into it. This is a family that we've all kind of started together, so we really want to connect with that kind of feeling. This photo is now about four, five years ago. This is when Eric and Celine were just still boyfriend and girlfriend, and now I was in their wedding. We actually are a real family now. This is maybe about a year ago. You can see me. I was already really drunk off of that wine. I was really happy. (audience lightly laughs) I never in a million years thought a kid like me who didn't have an art school background, or a kid who came out of Queens, I never thought that I would be making an independent magazine for five years for some dude I met through my barber, which is really cool.