Carolyn Carter for Ale by Alessandra

I got an email from Carolyn late one evening introducing herself saying that she was in The Bahamas and wanted to shoot lifestyle swimwear images for her blog. She told me that she connected with Alessandra Ambrosio, former Vicky Secret model who was now going into her own line of swimwear and that she had a few of the pieces to shoot with. I always jump at opportunities like these because it allows me to work with foreigners and ultimately grow my network.

Carolyn and I met a few days after to discuss a concept for the shoot and to look at the pieces that we would use to style her in. She was very easy going and assured me she could do her own hair and makeup, meaning that I would be working with a smaller team. Of course I didn't mind this as it would cut down on prep time and allow me to focus on shooting. We planned for a sunrise shoot, scouted our locations at Albany Bahamas and even secured a few four-legged models for the set.

My team and I woke up around 4am that morning to make sure we would be punctual on set. We arrived only to be greeted with a spread of deli meats, fruits, pastries and beverages which would surely provide us with fuel for the shoot...which of course we did not turn down!

The shoot ran great, particularly, the lighting. I love using natural light where I can and the lighting was almost perfect all day. I was able to diffuse the bright sun, bounce the light, which lit my model beautifully. Additionally, using my NIKKOR 85mm f1.4 lens created great flares and bokeh frames and awesome depth of field compositions.

See images from the shoot below.

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