Lifestyle Portraits of Artist in The Bahamas

I'm a part of an industry where there are some pretty amazing creatives, many whom I've had the pleasure to photograph. I've known illustrator and painter,  Philece for quite some time and I've always admired her creativity. Her illustrations match her personality, soft, vibrant with an energy you have to see in person to believe. 

I called her and said "Philece, let's shoot!" and with little to no reluctance, she adamantly accepted my offer. I told her I wanted to shoot her in her environment, the studio, her front yard with simple styling but capturing her personality and energy.

My approach as the photographer was to capture her in bright surroundings with clean bursts of light and pops of color that would portray Philece the way I saw her. I knew many of the shots would be "in the moment" and with her quirky, awkwardly funny and an aesthetic that bleeds creativity, I knew I'd capture her candidly and create images that truly represent the artist. 

Photography + Styling: Scharad Lightbourne  MUA: Makeup by Lily  Grips: Keron Wood // Video: Tony Williams

Photography + Styling: Scharad Lightbourne

MUA: Makeup by Lily

Grips: Keron Wood // Video: Tony Williams

Eve

I was nervous about this concept…at first. I wondered if I would go too far in getting a message across and if people wouldn’t relate or grasp what I was trying to say as a photographer. As a child I’d always seen the portrayal of “Eve” as a beautiful Caucasian woman so my imagination got the best of me and I decided to go against all the imagery I had previously seen in any biblical illustration. 

I wanted to stay clean, within my style, conceptualizing elements that would add to my overall canvas. If Eve were a black woman, what would she look like? Would she be tall, short, skinny or fat? Would her hair be natural, straight, up or down? How would I show her creation, her temptation, her becoming more aware of herself and body? 

To do this I put together a group of talented and visionary people in the industry that I felt would carry this concept like it was their own. Creative director, David Rolle pieced the looks together for Eve, orchestrating hair and makeup to follow.MUA, Mandisa Kerr worked her magic brush craftily added the right accents and contours to our models face. Hair stylist, Jameelah Thompson along with her assistant Lovena Magloire created amazing crowns of hair to place on our model that fit the theme. 

As expected finding a model to play the role of Eve had its challenges. Because of the reptilian element, many models were skeptical about the representation or meaning behind a very recognizable prop. Selvinique Wright however was down the second I was finished explaining the concept to her. She was in and that was all. On set she moved her body and shaped her poses into works of soft and sultry sentences allowing David to form her into the character “Eve.”

"Ha it Go," Ghetto Fashion editorial

This had been for a very long time, just a concept in my head. For years, I found myself fascinated with ghetto fashion, slang, style, and everything else in between. As a photographer, it served as a visual playground and the speech would amaze me. Looking back I realized how much the ghetto influenced my work. Its bold, vibrant and full of energy. The slang is hard, lyrical and edgy. Every part of the world has a term for its urban areas; hood, ghetto, slum translated to the people being termed “trick, hood rat, thug, gangster, jungaless (jun-ga-less) harajuku, redneck etc… Everyone can relate to these terms. 

For me, the goal was translating this into art, fashion and photography. How do I relate this to a culture I was raised in? What things should I highlight, what do I title it? What do I focus on? For years I just kept the thought locked up. Then I decided to plan and execute. I did tons of research, driving through the ghettos of New Providence, observing the natives and watching their tendencies and it only made me even more hungry to get this shoot going. Sometime had passed and I only became more hesitant to shoot here where I lived. Crime was definitely a factor so again, I put this idea on hold. Until one day, I picked up the phone and called model Tomii Culmer, I told her the idea and she immediately gave me a resounding “YES!” 

Now, Tomii lived in Freeport, the city of one of the out islands in The Bahamas but I was ok with that. I sourced the entire team who conveniently lived in Freeport. It was an opportunity to work with other talented people. Ashley, Gail, Navie, Alfred, Monette all agreed to come on board as team players to make the shoot happen. For weeks we planned and needed one more piece of the puzzle…a stylist. 

Now I’d just shot fashion stylist Lavonne Alexis for her blog and I thought to pitch the idea to her. Lavonne jumped up with excited, almost catapulting herself out her living room couch. She loved the concept and she ran with it, sourcing pieces from local stores like Diva’s Body language, Fashion Ova Style, Shop the CC and Stiletto Shoe Loft, she came up with some incredible looks for Tomii all matching the ghetto lifestyle theme. 

Freeport was amazing! We shot around different settlements like Pinder’s Point, Hawksbill and Pioneer’s Way. With Assistance from photographer Alfred Anderson and Tomii’s BF GeeJay Cox, the team worked masterfully to create true works of art with each look. Albeit experiencing some conflict with a few residents, we pushed through a 2 day, almost 16 hour set and we made magic!  

Credits Model: Tomii Culmer 

Styling: LaVonne Alexis 

MUA: Gail McIntosh 

Hair: Gifted Handsz 

Nails: Monette Newbold 

Assisted by: Alfred Anderson, GeeJay Cox