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eleyphoto.com

Duration: Five years.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia.

Education: MFA in photography from Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia.

Career path: Being a portrait photographer was written in the stars for me long before I was aware of it. It took me years to connect my passion for imagemaking to the earliest moment that I can remember being infatuated with portraiture. When I was no older than ten, I was gifted a large coffee table book filled with travel photography. I remember thumbing through it and thinking, ‘Wow, so cool that someone gets to travel the world and take pictures for their job.’ I remember stopping on one page, in particular, of an African woman gazing straight on; her eyes were piercing yet welcoming, and her skin was so dark that it almost shimmered with tones of purple.

In grade school, I loved film photography and pottery; in college, I focused on graphic design and printmaking with the promise of a financially successful career. When graphic design lost its luster to me, I refocused on what has always brought me joy, and enrolled in grad school to continue my journey with commercial photography. I’ve been happy ever since.

Cultural influences: Culturally, I identify as African American and I was raised in a predominantly White community. I remember being surprised when I found myself in a college that had a large population of people of color. This forced me outside of my comfort zone by beginning to interact with other cultures and races—filling a personal void that I didn’t even realize existed. This fed my explorations of self-identity, and I began to question what other cultures I might have been ignorant to. Photography has provided me a platform to continue this exploration and connect to other communities.

Artistically, I’m drawn to texture and contrast. This can be seen throughout my approach in all of my portfolios, be it studio portraiture, documentary or lifestyle campaigns.

I dream of being hired as a travel photographer, focusing on creating imagery that tells a story of how we are all interconnected. I want to photographically examine humanity and connect us through portraiture.”

Favorite projects: One, my thesis work where I dove into understanding what it means to live a life with a visual impairment. I was working with those who trusted me to create an art experience that had them in mind first and encouraged community through mutual understanding and compassion.

Two, an advertorial campaign for Wolf + Sun, an Australian underwear brand, that highlighted the strength of today’s women and the beauty of Black bodies.

Three, my most recent passion project: a body of work focused on the restructuring of iconic sculptural artwork. My team worked to recontextualize the traditional sculptural figure with that of African American woman and African cultural icons. This imagery not only showcases the beauty and strength of women, but also welcomes a conversation to the development of America by the means of those who served their lives as enslaved people.

All of these projects involved working closely with others to best identify issues and how to solve them. I love the collaborative nature that the arts can present—being able to work with a team, and bringing our personal insight and talents together.

Work environment: I’m based in East Atlanta, a neighborhood in the midst of gentrification. My space is directly across from the abandoned warehouses that production companies rent. My neighborhood is full of graffiti, barbed wire and pitbulls, but also welcomes craft breweries, upscale brunch spots and yoga studios. My personal work and living space is an industrial loft draped with plants, framed with metal and frosted plexiglass accents.

Approach: My photographic style is identified by the texture and catch lights in portraits, lighting design and contrasts that can be seen across my various portfolios. My personal projects center on sociopolitical issues, highlighting subcultures including African Americans, the visually impaired and women. My goal with these conceptual projects is to raise awareness to their trials and triumphs.

Aspirations: My current goals include photographing those who are in need of press release content in the entertainment industry, as well as those who should be showcased for their cultural influences. I dream of being hired as a travel photographer, focusing on creating imagery that tells a story of how we are all interconnected. I want to photographically examine humanity and connect us through portraiture. Additionally, I’m interested in expanding my brand by creating a company that elevates other women and people of color in the commercial photographic arts field.

Philosophy: Above all, be good to people. Additionally, be patient and welcome the process. Continue to create to feed your soul, and continue to create your next opportunity.

Anything else? I grew up being encouraged to people watch. From that, I learned that everyone has a story that should be told. Usually, you can find me behind the camera seeking out how to do that with people.

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