BY: YESENIA JONES
Despite the common narrative that Washington, D.C. is solely a place for politics and government affairs, it is also filled with creative minds and artists alike. American Literary Magazine(AmLit) teamed up with Photo Collective and The Blackprint, to host a group of these creative minds on a recent panel entitled "Capture." The panel featured Mignon Hemsley, Kevin Wilson and Tyrous Morris, three established photographers from the DMV.
Each of the photographers were able to provide a unique perspective on the photo industry in D.C. based on their individual experiences. Kevin Wilson (also known as @Versacejesuson Instagram) described what it was like to work for brands and create editorial spreads to be used for marketing. His efforts to use local faces in photo shoots for editorials makes his work personal and relatable to kids in the D.C. area. He advises young photographers to be aware that when pursuing a career in photography, money and professional gigs will not always come easy. According to Wilson, the best way to get your work noticed and snag those professional jobs is to be yourself and spread good energy. Most of the professional jobs he has worked on to this day are from people who have recognized his talent and asked him to jump on board a project.
All three of the photographers mentioned that Instagram is very helpful in getting your work noticed by large brands. However, the downside of the app is that work can often go overlooked or under appreciated if it's not posted at the correct times (for maximum visibility) or if it's not a selfie. As a result, they each have resorted to using other platforms to showcase their work.
"It moves too fast," said Tyrous Morris (also known as @Care.of on Instagram). He continues by noting that in a short period of time, millions of people upload pictures, making it very easy for the hard work that goes into professional photography to go unnoticed. In order to get his work noticed, Morris created a book that contains some of his best work. He experimented with placing a box full of copies of the book in general areas, so that the public may stop and view it. He plans to continue this practice, to provide his audience with a platform to appreciate and view his work the way he intends it to be.
Mignon Hemsley (also known as @filletmigon on Instagram) has also tried similar creative alternatives of showing her work. She uses an online portfolio and even mentioned pasting her work in a tunnel near U Street, so that passers-by would stop and engage with her work. Hemsley also noted that she carries her camera with her everywhere to ensure that she never misses a shot. Even though she may go months without work, she continues to always take pictures of her friends, as well as the things that inspire her. She hopes to continue to improve her craft, while showing off the things and people that she loves.
It is often difficult to become widely recognized in any creative field, as it takes an incredible amount of dedication and passion. Tyrous, Mignon and Kevin have all advised that if you're interested in photography, you have to keep working at it and stay positive because in the end things will all work out.
Cover: (Mignon Hemsley via 35mmig)