Over the course of the last two years I’ve worked closely with Sean “Smoke Dza” Pompey while he developed the recently released “Don’t Smoke Rock” LP. During the recording of this LP I had the pleasure of sitting down with some tremendous artists and bosses in the hip hop game. Take a couple minutes to see what it was like putting together this project.
Almost a month ago Chio and I met up at my studio and set out to make some images together. The plan was to shoot 2 looks and walk away with 4 retouched images in total. From the looks of it, we got carried away. Take a look at a few of the photographs we created that day in November…
As a freelance photographer from the Bronx, New York my dream has always been to travel for a living. As of late my dreams have been coming closer to reality than I ever thought they would for this year. I tend to post my travels via my social media outlets, I.e. Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. These social posts have lead to a slew of questions with the most popular question being, “What are your must have items whenever you travel?”. The first few times I got this question in an email or DM I responded back to the sender. However, after my last trip to Dubai I was welcomed home by several emails asking the same question in many different ways. Instead of continuing to answer these questions I’ve created this full comprehensive list detailing my Everyday #FlightEssentials, my uses for these items, their price points and why I chose them over there competitors. My EverydayCarry #FlightEssentials are as follows:
15inch MacBook Pro Retina
42mm Black Apple Watch Sport
Sony On Ear Headphones
MyCharge 4000mah Portable Battery Charger
Pax 2 Vaporizer
Gucci Monogram Card Holder
Bose Soundlink Color (Black)
32gb Sandisk Extreme SD Card
15inch MacBook Pro Retina w/ Quad Core 2.7 ghz Intel i7 | 16gb Ram | 2gb AMD Radeon Ram| [ $2499 ]:
My MacBookPro (MBP) is the newest addition to my travel essentials list. Being a self taught freelance photographer has its pros and cons. One of the biggest pros for me is knowing how to edit the images I make. However, this serves as a double edge sword. Knowing how to edit my own content makes sure that I don’t have to depend on anyone else to help deliver a premium service and product to my clients. It also means that I have to budget in time to edit the select images from each client and deliver them in a timely fashion. With a schedule that is constantly evolving every minute counts and my MBP w/ retina helps me squeeze in valuable editing time in moments that I wouldn’t be able to edit if I only owned a desktop computer. At $2499 most people would the price point is a little steep, but I beg to differ. This MBP is not your average “consumer” computer and I wouldn’t recommend for a basic everyday user. Most people are used to Windows/ PC computers and price points, which start around $399 for a laptop. When you compare the two price points it’s a no brainer which option to go with from an economic standpoint, or is it? My reason for choosing this MBP over any and all other computers is its power and potential for longevity. Let me explain. The average high end PC laptop start out with processors ranging from 2.0 - 3.5ghz, but a lot of these computers only have dual or single core processor. This means Windows/ PC laptops can’t even compare to the power the 15inch MBP w/ retina can produce. Truth be told, this MBP model is more powerful than a lot of desktop computers being sold on the market today. And if the hardware differences weren’t enough to capture your attention there are always the well known software and security factors. For those of you that may not know, Apple computers and software use a close sourced foundation and format which make it really difficult (almost impossible) to catch the malicious viruses that usually infect and destroy most Windows/ PC computers. That’s why this MBP was the best choice in my opinion.
42mm Black Apple Watch Sport [ $499 ]:
Even with the Apple Watch being one of the newest and most spoke about Apple products of this year a lot of people still don’t know much about it or why they should buy it. Hell, I didn’t even have a real good reason when I bought it. Now, it’s one of my most used devices on a daily basis. In my day to day life I receive a lot of phone calls, text messages and email that usually require me to pull my phone out my pocket to check them. For me, that’s like opening Pandora’s box. Keeping focus is imperative when dealing with a jam packed schedule, 10 minutes can make or break your entire day. We all know what it feels like to fall victim to a “quick” glance at our phones. It starts out as checking emails or text messages which usually turns in 10+ minutes of scrolling through Instagram, tapping through snaps and/or catching up on what’s going on in Twitter. My Apple Watch has just about eliminated that issue for me. The Apple Watch is connected to my iPhone 6s Plus via Bluetooth at all times, so whenever I get a call, text or email the haptic feedback engine taps me on my wrist to inform me. With that alert I can glimpse at my watch and view whatever message or call that’s coming into my phone, making it easier to avoid pulling out my phone for the not so important alerts. In short my Apple Watch has worked wonders for my productivity. My reason for choosing the Apple Watch over all of it’s competitors is easy. There is no other watch on the market that works as seamlessly with my iPhone 6s Plus than the Apple Watch. It’s really that simple.
Sony On Ear Headphones [ $50 ]:
I’m an avid user of the stock earbuds that come along with every new iPhone and for years those have been my go to headphones for all occasions. At least until my last trip to LA, this past Grammy weekend. The flight from New York to Los Angeles is no cake walk so peace and relaxation are important for someone that’s afraid of heights, like myself. So here’s the story behind my switch up: There was an infant child my return flight from LA that cried for just about the whole flight, the end. If you’ve ever used the Apple earbuds you know they produce an awesome sound for such a small product, but they don’t keep surrounding noise out which means my soulection vibe session had an undesired guest mix featuring the screaming baby. For my next trip I paid a visit to BestBuy to pick up an extra memory card for my camera and conveniently had to walk through their headphones section on my way to the cash register. I was naturally attracted to the Bose section, because their products have never let me down and always come thru with amazing sound quality. However, after looking at the price points for their on ear headphones I slowly started to retreat towards the cash register when an employee said to me, “those Bose headphones are good but these Sony’s are comparable, they’ve got way better base and they’re only $50.” I was old off his pitch alone, I figured if I didn’t like em I could always bring them back. I picked up a demo pair and took a listen… the rest is history. I chose these Sony On Ear headphones because they’re light, portable, inexpensive and have an amazing sound quality. For $50 you can’t go wrong with these heads. To be honest, you couldn’t go wrong with these headphones even if they were $150. I don’t think you’ll find another pair of headphones with this quality of sound and construction at this price point.
** MyCharge 4000mah Portable Charger [ $40 ]:
I hate to admit it, but I’m a gadget guy. Meaning, I have several tech devices on me at any given time. Sometimes I forget to charge one of my everyday devices or am a little more active on my devices than I normally am and find myself with a low batter in need of a charge. That problem is easily solved while in my office or in a building with accessible outlets. But, for the times when I’m shooting on location or just running around city handling business I need an instant solution and the MyCharge is it. The MyCharge has a single USB port that allows me to plug in any USB charger cable and charge any of my devices wether it be my iPhone 6s Plus, Pax 2, Apple Watch or Bose Soundlink Color with ease. The MyCharge’s 4000mah capacity is amazing, it’s enough to charge two iPhone 6s completely. I chose the MyCharge over the fan favorite Mophie charging case and portable charger options because I prefer quality over hype. Mophie is a household name because of the companies popularity and wide spread reach. However, When you compare the MyCharge to Mophie’s comparable product there’s a $30-$50 difference in price. In my opinion there’s no real reason for the difference in price except for the name. So, overall I chose the MyCharge because it’s more practical than paying for a name, in my opinion.
In an emerging market where oil and dry vaporizers are slowing but surely eliminating the stench of cigars, cigarettes and other smokable dry herbs the Pax 2 is the equivalent to the pocket hulk. For those of you that don’t know what the Pax 2 is, it is a personal dry herb vaporizer. Smokers can pack their tobacco or dry herb into the Pax 2’s oven chamber and smoke away without the unpleasant smells or a lighter.
My Pax 2 is my saving grace in a lot of instances. There are times when I’m dealing with a stressful situation when I could use a smoke, but may not be in the right place. The Pax 2 fits in the palm
of my hand and makes it too easy to take a few puffs from it discreetly. So, I guess u can say my Pax 2 serves as an instant stress reliever. At $289 the Pax 2 is a lot more expensive than most of its competitors like the G Pen and other generic branded vaporizers. But if you’ve learned anything about me from this review so far it’s that I prefer quality over anything else. That’s where the Pax 2 has the competition beat. The Pax 2’s construction is solid and clean up is minimal. The best part about the Pax 2 is the manufacturers warranty. Make sure you visit www.PaxVapor.com to read up on the Pax 2 and the warranty.
** Gucci Monogram Cardholder [ $150 ]:
This cardholder has been apart of my daily essentials for almost 3 years now. I would like to take credit for picking it out, but I can’t because it was a gift from an ex girlfriend. Honestly, it’s not really my style and I wouldn’t have ever picked it out as I am not big on logos and monograms. However, over time this cardholder had grown on me. It’s proven to be a good conversation piece and the Gucci’s world renowned quality has made this the my longest held cardholder/ wallet in life. Shout out to my ex on the great gift choice. You can find one of these at any Gucci store, Gucci online or Saks fifth avenue.
Bose Soundlink Color (Black) [ $129 ]:
I love this portable speaker. I’ve already expressed my love for the quality of sound and construction of Bose products, but this is just amazing. I was introduced to Bose Bluetooth speakers by one of my close photographer friends, PhotosbyRome ( Jerome Shaw ), when he brought his Bose Mini Soundlink to LA one year for our annual Grammy Weekend photographer’s retreat. I instantly fell in love with how powerful the speaker was while being so small. I tried to find a real reason to buy that speaker for almost a year before purchased my Soundlink Color. Earlier this year Rome and I signed a joint lease on a photo studio in L.I.C., NY and that was my reason to purchase this pint sized powerhouse. I chose the Bose Soundlink Color over the Mini Sound Link because the Mini Sound Link was $70 cheaper and produced what I felt was a better sound. When compared to comparable portable Bluetooth speakers the the Soundlink Color kills the competition. The fan favorite in this category is the UE Boom, which doesn’t have enough of a well rounded sound for me. And in my opinion the Soundlink color is way better than the UE Boom, and $70 cheaper. Whenever you get a chance head in to your local Apple Store or Best Buy and compare the two. You can thank me later!
** 32gb Sandisk Extreme SD Card [ $45 ]:
This is by far the easiest item on my list to review. I always keep an Extreme SD card with me while traveling because they’re small, reliable and serve as a safe way to make sure you back up your files while away from your external drives or back up devices.
** = No individual image of the product
This past March I had the pleasure of meeting England native, Vanessa J., while shooting the Broccoli City Festival in Washington DC. We spoke briefly during the concert, DRAM’s set to be specific, and quickly agreed to meet up the next day to shoot her Naturally MINE photo spread and video interview. Vanessa is the 2nd Naturally MINE feature from outside of the United States and she brings a completely different vibe. Take the time to watch her video interview and enjoy her photo spread below.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Essence Magazine’s annual Street Style Block Party and it was absolutely amazing. There were so many different and eclectic styles present at yesterday’s event. I had my camera with me and shot everything and everyone… Well not everyone, I focused on just women and children but only the coolest. Check below for my photos from yesterday’s events!
This week’s Naturally MINE feature will be on the remarkable New Jersey based Naturalista, Barbie Conga. Barbie is the only feature that I’ve actually had to shoot twice for the project. Not because she’s difficult or anything, but because we have so much fun shooting we lose track of time. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking with her about her natural hair journey and what it’s meant to her. This is what she had to say. See below to access her full photo shoot spread.
* What is your name?
Barbie: Barbie Conga
* Where you’re from?
Barbie: Jersey all day
* What your art is?
Barbie: My art is to motivate others to look for a more natural and holistic route when it comes to their diet and beauty. I also express myself through my fashion making a statement that fashion should not be what a magazine tells you to wear but, how you feel.
* How old were you when you went “Natural”?
Barbie: I was 26 when I decided to embrace my curls
* Did you have any fears or stigmas about going natural?
Barbie: I actually did not have any fears of what others would say it was a struggle within myself. I felt I was “more beautiful” with straight hair.
* What was your method of transition?
Barbie: I slowly chopped off my damaged hair and then decided to rock a shorter cut when I was tired of the straight pieces.
* What kind of effect did your transition had on you as a person?
Barbie: Transitioning really humbled my spirit and gave me a different perspective on beauty.
* What kind of effect did your transition had on your art?
Barbie: Me transitioning actually brought about my art. Me wanting healthier hair made me also want a healthier body. Through my transition I also learned that I am beautiful no matter what anyone thinks.
* What does naturally MINE mean to you?
Barbie: Naturally mine means my beauty that comes from the inside and shows on the outside. No one can ever take that from me.
* What is your message to other artists? Natural or not.
Barbie: Remember to always use your art to make a positive difference.
This past saturday I had the pleasure of working with Carol’s daugther to capture this year’s Curl Fest. The event was DJ’d by the Bronx’s own Tiff McFierce and the tone was set by all the brands that sponsored the day’s festivities. Men, women, and children came from far and wide to celebrate their love for natural hair and I caught most of it on camera. Take a look at the images below for a look in to the second annual Curl Fest.
A few weeks before Christmas of 2014 I had the opportunity to spend the day with Staten Island native, Courtney Danielle. We took a nice walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and a really cool ride on the Staten Island Ferry. We spoke about everything from her family life to her hardships during her natural transition. Please take the time to view her video interview and photo spread below.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of having press access to the 2nd day of New York’s AfroPunk Music Festival in Brooklyn, New York. This wasn’t my first time at AfroPunk, but I’ve never experienced such an amazing crowd of beautiful people and energy in one place in my entire life. Thank GOD I had my camera with me. Take the time to view the images I was able to capture of the day’s events.
One freezing day this past February René Daniella, aka OwnByFemme, and I spent three hours speaking about her Natural Hair journey and life as a globetrotter. Check out our video interview and full photo spread below.