August Alsina for Urban Ink Magazine.  

With Mariah Huq of “Married to Medicine”

We were about halfway through a shoot with Mariah Huq last week when everyone involved sort of realized, it just wasn’t working.  Who was to blame?  Hair? Makeup? Styling? Hell, I’ll even take the blame and say it was the photographer’s fault.  But does it matter?

My father was a bricklayer.  He could absolutely guarantee that he could make a perfect wall or staircase each and every time.  I’m an artist and there’s an element of what I do that isn’t under my control.  Shouldn’t periodic failure be expected?  If art were something repeatable, Michael Jackson would have made another “Thriller” instead making “Invincible”.

Often, my team and I create something beautiful. Something amazing.  Something that is greater than what we put into it.  Other times, as was the case with Mariah last week, we put our 100% into it, and the art we create is less than our skill and our dedication to the task would suggest it should be.  And at that point, its best to do as we did -cut our losses and call it a day. 

The shoot has been rescheduled for next week were we will once again try to control that which no one can control -the creation of art.

Bye, Bye, BET.

I was the house photographer for BET’s 106 & Park TV show for 3 years.  The workload was insane, but what a wonderful shooting opportunity it was.  I shot over 800 images per show and I often shot 2 shows per day.  And, I would edit these 1,600 or so images at the end of the day while still at BET and upload a final, captioned take of around 300 total images before I went home each day.  It was mentally exhausting, but so much fun.

As long as I created the images BET needed -(the hosts with the guests, and the guests alone on set, being the most important) I was free to pursue the shots I was seeing on and off set.  My tool of choice was the Leica M9 but I sometimes used the iPhone with a fisheye attachment as well.  I may have been quite the spectacle, juggling 2 Nikons, a Leica and an iPhone fisheye on the crowded set, but my choice of gear consistently allowed me to create new and interesting shots each day, even though I was shooting what was essentially the same subject every day.

My tenure at BET ended when Getty Images took over responsibility for photographing the show each day.  Despite my love for shooting on that set, I was really glad for it to end.  I think 3 years was the perfect amount of time to have spent there.  Getting back my free time to focus on other projects was a real blessing.