Eleven years ago I created an online magazine. I was living in Chicago and sick of not getting opportunities to publish my fashion work. I wasn’t one to sit on my ass and let other people determine what I deserved and I knew my work was as good as anyone else’s. I took graphic design classes while I was studying photography, and I spent years studying magazines and fashion photography and I knew that technically it wasn’t that hard. Mostly I didn’t want those Chicago assholes thinking that they could keep me down. Nobody wanted to hire or book me, so I hired and booked myself. Screw them.
There’s something maddeningly frustrating about having your work ignored that I couldn’t live with. I really busted my ass coming up with ideas, finding locations, looking for models and designers and makeup artists and stylists and shooting and editing and then getting nowhere. Every so often I would get a job or win a little contest or something but it wasn’t enough. I worked hard and I tried hard and I deserved to be published. No one could tell me that I didn’t deserve success.
I asked people that I knew and had worked with and I even styled another photographer’s shoot to get what I wanted. The pics in the Pink Lady spread features all clothing that I had collected. I settled on a pink/black/white color scheme with a punk, new wave feel. I could have shot it myself, but I wanted to try starting a styling career back then since I wasn’t doing assisting work. You have to get on the sets somehow. I only did a few styling gigs, though. I ended up selling and giving away all my stuff and moving to New York.
Here’s a funny thing, I did a shoot with a nice girl who was looking to start a modeling career and one night in hotel in Montana I found out that she made it onto ANTM’s 15th cycle. And I only saw it because I was fighting with the person I went out there to visit so it was completely random that I found out. She was a cool girl, but that Mexican wrestling shoot did her in. Anyway. I was renting the first floor of a grey gardens type house in Humboldt Park and I had people come over to shoot all summer and she just happened to be one of them. Crazy, huh?
I didn’t end up getting the editorial work I wanted, but I did get a fashion internship which helped me learn more about desktop publishing. Then I started getting paid to write for a fashion website. Then I started publishing on another site and drifted into fashion/beauty blogging. The Magazine OK helped me get fashion show invitations and gave me a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. I had my own magazine. If I wanted to, I could do it again. If I felt like it.
Eleven years ago I made a decision not to let other people determine my fate and it led me on a path to where I am right now. I’m not a world famous anything, but I’m happier just chilling and being basic and loving the life I have. I’m capable of affecting change and shining a spotlight that lets other people shine, even as people judge me worthless. I took great photos, and then did a great job editing my own publication with no help from anyone else.
I don’t usually feature other photographers, but I have a soft spot for perfection and I had to do a post about an amazing woman who makes art out of old clothes, bedsheets and her gorgeous daughters Jayla, Jada and Ella. I’m usually super jealous… but her work is so good that I had to get over myself.
I started following Alissa Bertrand’s page during quarantine and it kept me engaged with the old. I started waiting for Alissa’s posts. They’re like a portal to a fairy tale world where all the princesses are black with beautiful natural hair. Her work reminds me of old Ralph Lauren ads, or Sally Mann’s revealing body of work that starred her pre-pubescent children. Every image is stunning. The lighting is soft, the girls are self aware and graceful, and the clothing is everything a girl or woman wants in her wardrobe.
I studied photography at Parsons and Columbia College Chicago, and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen such a cohesive body of work or such consistent excellence. Enter the fact that she is doing all of the styling with clothing that she designed, and all of the hairstyling and grooming for the girls and you have a one woman fashion army. If she decided to sell prints, I’d buy them. And I wouldn’t mind a grownup version of this stunning white cotton dress with eyelet lace, either.
I got Alissa to answer a few questions about her images and her plans for the future.
The Jabella Fleur interview:
SEBMARKETBK: What inspired the photographs that you take of your daughters? Was there an artist or designer or magazine that informed your distinctive photography style?
Alissa Bertrand: What inspires the photographs I take of my girls is just simply trying to capture them and the clothing I make for them! It’s also a way for them to have some really amazing pictures of themselves as children, to look back upon and remeber all the times we spent together along with all the fun adventurous stories too. I don’t look to others to inspire what I do. I’m a vintage fanatic and I love vintage aesthetics, so a big part of my look is evoking that style.
SEBMARKETBK: Did you study photography or take any lessons?
Alissa Bertrand: I’ve never studied photography! I wish I had some more knowledge in photography. I simply know the basics of what I like and what I want to capture along with the feeling.
SEBMARKETBK: When did you start designing clothing? Do you remember your first garment?
Alissa Bertrand: I started sewing from the 8th grade, and designing and repurposing about 10 years ago! The first garment was a maxi dress for the girls.
SEBMARKETBK: Do your daughters take pictures or create clothing like you?
Alissa Bertrand: My daughters don’t take pictures. They’re just my mini-muses. They do enjoy sewing and creating little things.
SEBMARKETBK: Where do you see your artwork taking you? Are you interested in being in galleries or museums?
Alissa Bertrand: I see my fashion and photography taking me to the next level in fashion. I’m currently working on a fashion collection for girls, hopefully coming out SS21! I hope my work will end up in magazines and introduce myself and designs to the world!
So as a way to thank Alissa for helping me hold onto sanity during the horrible weeks of quarantine and then the first weeks of the protests against the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others, I’m doing this blog post. She reminded me that art has the power to heal, and that consistency is key in creating a successful art process. Her work reminds me to look towards my family for inspiration and savor the small pleasures and victories available to me.
Please follow Alissa and her girls on @jabellafleur (and tell others!) so that she’ll be a mega-success and I’ll get the coffee table book I keep begging her for. Any requests for collabs or publication should be directed to her on instagram.
It has been a wild week, to be sure. I think we all know what I mean. EVERYTHING is different.
And maybe that needed to happen.
So the corona virus has rolled across the world and in addition to the possibility of sickness and death, you have the choice of going broke if things don’t get back to normal. I started a Roth IRA 7 years ago and it’s only in the last few years that I could make regular contributions. I’m watching that progress melt away second by second, which is both frightening and exciting. I never had money to lose before, so I’m kind of winning. I also read a book called Depression Era Economics by Paul Krugman and it’s keeping me calm to know that if you just wait, the market will regenerate itself. If people are selling and selling, someone is sitting around waiting for the prices to drop low enough and then it will be buy, buy, buy.
If things work out ok. Which they will.
Here in New York it’s like this:
Normally, you can’t shoot a train platform without a few people messing up your photo, but not so much now. It is not as much of a problem getting a seat on the train, and nobody pushes right up next to you. Part of that is that people are biking or uber pooling, and the other part is that businesses are slowly shutting down, so there’s not as much reason to go out. I just got told that the rest of my gigs for March are cancelled since department store shopping is considered nonessential. You can get restaurant delivery or shop online, though.
One thing that fell by the wayside was my styling class at Fashion Institute of Technology. I had signed up for a visual merchandising class where I would learn to build sets and style photoshoots (yeah, I was a photographer and did branch out into styling but that was ages ago). I really wanted to brush up my skills, work on updating my portfolio, maybe style on the side, and definitely try to get more visual merchandising jobs. But corona happened.
It threw the school into a tizzy about a month in. My class was very hands on, and all about group projects and suddenly they were like, all classes are online. I thought about it and decided not to continue because worrying about my economic survival is not good for my creative process. Guess what? Can’t get a refund. You either take the online class or die. So the photo above and one lecture just cost me $600.
At least I can write it off on my taxes.
I just got a Target Red Card, so just in time I had a large amount of money for emergency food shopping. I also shopped at Jacks and Dollar Tree. I got yogurt, fresh berries and fruit and as late as Thursday night Target was still stocked up. The Key Food near my place was completely out of toilet paper, but I got a few rolls at Dollar Tree. I usually stock up, because a grownup should know when they’re almost out, but I was down to my last five rolls and I started reading about how people were stockpiling. I also have napkins and paper towels, but still.
When I finally got to settle in and self quarantine, I roasted some pork belly chunks (super cheap) and had them with rice (put the rest in the fridge for another meal) and a spoonful of black beans from the massive can I bought. I live alone, so my food will last for awhile, but I’m already telling myself not to get crazy and overeat. The first uncertain days had me binge eating, but now, since I don’t know how long this will last, I’m sticking to four meals and rationed healthy snacking. I found some empty plastic bottles that I’d been saving for no reason, so I filled those with water and they’re in the freezer.
I had a gig at Home Depot merchandising for Carhartt, and I bought myself a money plant and a new succulent baby. It’s wild, but I’ve been collecting crystals and buying candles and oils and sage, and setting intentions for the last few months so now my apartment is a nicer place to be. I have a salt lamp going and stocked upon the little bulbs that make it glow. I got the cutest little clock. It’s been months since I could just sit in here and relax, and now I have things in here that are conducive to relaxation. I can see that progress that I’ve made and it’s calming me down. I feel really grateful that I have a place to live at a time like this.
I’m also going to have time to thoroughly clean this place and really get into the feng shui method that I started with and then ran out of energy to complete. I got Feng Shui for Dummies to start with, and now I can look at creating a floor plan and budget for remedies.
And I’ve been talking to my family. I started a group chat with my brothers. We don’t talk all day, but having this conversation on my phone to look at and engage with is amazing after years of estrangement. Talking to my mom is really precious now. All it took was the threat of human extinction to make me see that.
Last but not least, the pins I designed came in and I’m a little excited! Things got backed up because of the virus, so I don’t have them listed anywhere yet and I need to stay in the house so I can’t really be worried about selling them. BUT! It’s exciting to have made something from scratch like this. I really love this image, though. I think I want to make more things out of it, including tshirts. My online stores are closed right now while I figure out what I want to do, but this image will be a big thing in the coming months.
How are you holding up? Are you remembering to wash your hands and not touch your face? Are you making sure to stay in contact with people? Have you made plans for the what ifs of the situation? Did you get some toilet paper?
I have not had one minute to spare the last few weeks. It’s super easy to get jobs in New York right now, and I managed to go from my fashion internship, to a temporary summer job to a regular (part-time) job and a freelance job doing visual merchandising and events. So for the first time in my adult life, I have two jobs.
I’m still shocked.
Over the course of the last month I got to use what I learned from umpteen retail jobs, visual merchandising class and my brief showroom experience to merchandise and dress mannequins. The best part is that I have already made back the money that I spent on the class.The worst part is knowing that I could have been doing this all along, if I hadn’t been so obsessed with making it as a photographer. I feel like I wasted a lot of time and caused myself a lot of suffering and unhappiness when I could have been working, building up my savings, gaining experience and making friends. And then I could still have branched out into styling and then photography.
Hindsight is a bitch.
The funny thing is that when I first set out to go to college, I did want to do visual merchandising and this or that happened and I got sidetracked and then jumped into photography. Had I known how sexist and racist that industry was, I would have saved my efforts and put them into something that would have benefited me a lot more. My life would have been completely different. I bet my student loans would be paid off, too.
I don’t love makeup, but I’m ok with wearing it. It’s more of a toy than a necessity, but if I buy anything I want it to be the best quality so that I can feel comfortable and confident while I have it on. If anything I want to forget it’s there and just go about my business. I had a birthday/rebranding photo shoot in May so of course I had to exercise the credit card at Sephora to update my makeup wardrobe. I wanted to amp it up for a sunkissed basic beat that put a frosted gloss on my usual naked face. It’s not perfect, but it was different.
It started with a change of eye color. While I was researching and watching makeup tutorials, I noticed that people were changing eye color like shoes. I felt like making a bold statement so I went for these Polar Ice Grey lenses that help show off the curves of my eye and make a striking contrast with my skin. It’s not better than my brown eyes, and it’s not worse, it’s just different. Also cheap, they were about $25 with free shipping. Get a 10% discount off your own TTD Eye lenses using this link. Use the code SEBMARKETBKEYES at checkout.
I spent a month making sure I drank enough water, washing my face with Cetaphil and doing a weekly homemade bentonite clay mudmask. The day of the shoot I woke up early, took a long bath and gave myself a hydrating facial (they stopped making this mask and I only have one more left. I’m devastated.), then put these Tarte eye bag masks on while I toweled off and put lotion on my body. Once I had brushed my teeth and everything I applied Ancient Cosmetics Even Skin face cream. I use this cream morning and night, and I love how it just melts right into the skin without leaving a greasy feel.
This is how this goes- I put a little of the Smashbox blurring primer in my palm and then I pump a little MUF HD foundation on top. I swirl it together with the beauty blender and then pat onto my skin. I use BlackUp concealer under my eyes and this Kat Von D powder to set the whole thing. I am not a contour person at all. I feel kind of annoyed at doing this much to begin with. If contouring became mandatory I’d prob just throw all this stuff in the garbage.
I mean this.
I am a sucker for neutrals, nudes and shimmery metallic sparkles. I’m trying to break out of it? But if I see something like the Natasha Denona mini star palette in this photo I’m incapable of not buying it. I love how rich and pigmented the colors are. I could do stuff like carve out the eyelid with this. The other palette is from a drugstore brand, Black Radiance. Not the greatest, but I think I’ll try wetting the brush before using these colors. I got this Fenty highlighter along with a mini lipgloss. I’m still practicing highlighting techniques. I need to blend more and I have a tendency to forget.
Once I got the eyeshadow situation sorted I had to finish the job. I use Anastasia brow pomade (previous pic), and today I went with eyeliner pen because I felt like a sharp outline was the best way to go. As you can see from this tube of eyelash glue, eyelashes are not my strong point. Normally I just use a lengthening mascara.
Buy this: Pat McGrath Lust Trance lipgloss in Bronze Divinity, $28. I love this lipgloss. LOVE. IT. It smells delicious and the shine is high fashion gloss without being sticky. It’s a substantial size, and the wand makes you want to stand in the mirror just gently putting on more and more candy smelling gloss while looking deeply into your own eyes. The smaller pencil is lipliner and I think I put the black eyeliner in the photo by mistake, forgetting that I was supposed to shoot my concealer.
What do you do to get ready for a big day? Do you find yourself obsessing over every little detail or do you just sleep like a baby? Do you lay out everything you’ll need before you go to bed or just get up and do whatever comes in your head? I’m usually paralyzed with anxiety the day before I do anything, thinking of all that could go wrong or how I might get laughed at.
It usually ends up fine, but even if things go horribly wrong I know I did my best and that’s all that anyone can reasonably ask from me.
See you next time!
Faith/SEB Market BK
Shop my look:
Upcycled grunge plaid shirt
Customized Mossimo Athletic Fit plaid button down shirt hand treated with bleach. Unisex. Decorated with stars, studs, and bleach treated denim stripe, then bleached again. Denim panel is hand painted. Soft, 100% cotton and machine washable.
Measures 30 inches from shoulder to hem. 25 inches from armpit to armpit. 19 inches across back shoulders. Sleeves are 26.5 inches. *Shipping is included in the price. **United States only.
Silver Love You More necklace
Love You More silver/zinc alloy block letter necklace. Chain is 9.5 inches long with 3 inch extension. Pendant is 1 inch square and rests on breastbone.
Love all day long.
Comes with gold lamé pouch. *Price includes shipping. **United States only.
So yesterday I went to Soho because there was a sale I wanted to check out, and I ended up at Crate & Barrel. I just meant to browse or maybe get a planter for my homegrown lemon tree, but instead I got this stuff ($15 total, because I am cheap). And out of all of these things, the most important is the salad bowl.
See, I’m on a diet- or rather I’m going back on a diet, or really I’m doing everything I can to guide myself towards better food choices. I went to Dean & Deluca, which I always do when I’m in that neighborhood, and instead of coffee and pastry I did an iced chai with a banana. I am super proud because D&D makes fire baked goods and I did not waver. Which brings us to salads:
I love salad and while salad tastes good in anything, most of the time I’m eating one out of a plastic takeout bowl (recycling!) with a plastic fork (I re-use those, too). This salad was delicious, full of fresh greens, crispy carrots and cucumbers, perfectly boiled eggs and premium Tonnino’s tuna. It tasted amazing, too. But I know how I am and I need to stunt a little so when I saw the bowl, I knew that it was a match made in salad instagramming heaven.
This salad is just a pile of random stuff in a bowl- but look at the bowl! How can you not want to nom everything in it? And it was $2.57! Lightweight but sturdy melamine and looking like an egg yolk pouring out of blindingly white shell. It is pure salad motivation. Btw, this was actually tasty. Chopped salad greens, avocado slices, roasted sweet plantain, ground peanuts roasted with bbq sauce, and slivers of white onion. Topped with cheddar cheese, for color as well as taste. I think I enjoyed it more because it was nestled in bowl perfection.
I just blogged about my bowl to show off, and to show that no matter how you get there, eating good food makes you feel like your best self. Feel free to tell me about what motivates you to eat properly! (Or not, it’s all good).
Handpainted PUNK denim jacket by SEB Market BK, $150
This adorable jacket went from worst to first with some handpainting, embroidered patches, safety pins and sweet punk rock stars.
It's an extra small, and measures 20 inches from shoulder to hem, 17 inches from armpit to armpit. 14 inches across the back. Sleeves are 24.5 inches long. Jacket comes with a pouch of extra stars for you to play with. *Domestic, American shipping only.
So while I was gone from blogging I started selling pre-loved and vintage clothes on platforms like ebay, depop and etsy. At first it was just straightforward selling, like I wasn’t altering the pieces, just posting them. Then one day I rescued a Coach bag that had worn patches on the front and a busted strap, but was perfect on the back and interior. I messed with it and it ended up selling on ebay. Then I played with a thrifted red leather vintage 80s crossbody that I had in my inventory for about 2 years. Then I sold a sweatshirt. So now I’m a fashion designer with my own label. Why fight fate?
The PUNK jacket started life as a mass produced item treated to look like an authentic punk rockers jacket. Soft, distressed lightwash denim with a screenprinted band poster on the back. Originally created by Bethany Mota, I saw it and knew that I could do better.
I decided to punch up the faded colors on the back panel with acrylic paint, and then adding a silver leather star I got at the fabric store. I used black paint to emphasize lines and to punk up the PUNK lettering. I used gold and black to create a frame, and then put a safety pin at each corner (because punk rock). I chose silver stars instead of pyramid studs for a girly touch. Recently I painted the arms and inside of the cuffs for more edge.
What I love about is that it reminds me of movies like She’s Gotta Have It and Desperately Seeking Susan, 80s films with cool downtown heroines that whipped up fashion frenzy in every scene. You can wear it with sparkles or dress it down with jorts. Layer it over a hoodie in the cooler months to keep that Nancy Spungeon look going.
Shop the look!
Jay x Jay Godfrey sequinned black dress, size 0
Halter style with spaghetti straps. Open back, side pockets in the skirt. Measures 34 inches from shoulder to hem, 16 from armpit to armpit, 14 across the waist. Brand new, never worn.
*Domestic, American shipping only.
Converse All Stars white low tops, women’s size 8
Classic low-tops, already broken in. Measures 10.75 inches from toe to heel, 3.5 inches across the widest part of the foot. Can fit men's size 6. Shipping included in price. *Domestic, American shipping only.
Comes with detachable brass chain strap. Looks like vintage, some wear at top of flap. Measures 12.5 x 7, 19 in strap drop. *Domestic, American shipping only.
Red tank top, size S
Ribbed cotton/poly. 24 inches from shoulder to hem, 13 inches from armpit to armpit. Brand new, never worn. *Domestic, American shipping only.
SEB Market BK handpainted jorts, size 28″
Hand cut and handpainted denim shorts with one embroidered patch. They are folden in this photo to show the front and back paint colors (white, pastels). Super comfy premium cotton denim, perfect for summer days or wear with tights and combats in the cooler months. 28" waist, 12 inches ling from waist to hem in front, 13 in back. Waistband sits at waist. *Domestic, American shipping only.
Manas Designs leather motorcycle boots, size 41
Soft Italian leather boots with zipper trim. Round toes, lug soles, chink heel and side zipper. The type of boot that looks incredible with a sundress. Fits women's US 9.5/10. Price includes shipping. *Domestic, American shipping only.
So, hi! Hello! Bonjour! Wie gehts dir! Konnichiwa!
I meant to get back here sooner, but …life. And Polyvore, the app that I was using to post fashion content morphed into an e-commerce platform and I deleted all of my posts and was too busy trying to earn money like a real grown-up to write my blog posts again.
But I thought about it! A lot. I started blogging backwards (like everything else I do in life) so I actually started on Lucky Community and Examiner.com, both deceased sites now, before starting my wordpress blog. When those sites bombed out, I had the blog but I had lost interest in selfies and talking about myself. I felt kind of disassociated from regular life because I had made an existence out of being fake famous and getting free stuff that I didn’t deserve. A lot of free stuff. An embarrassing amount of free stuff. Enough to feel rotten because there are people who have no money, no home and can’t buy anything… like I used to be.I was homeless when I stared blogging, so that free stuff came in handy, but eventually I just felt weird about the whole thing.
Also a feeling like, what kind of weirdos randomly send out free stuff to strangers with no real qualifications? I literally got a random email to go to a party and get a free watch. Then they didn’t like me so I got the free watch but I never heard from them again. So that was another reason not to go places; they liked whatever I was posting but they didn’t like me. I started feeling like I wasn’t worth anything, so I just used polyvore, built up my online business and worked towards living a regular, buy what you want with money, life. Which helped a LOT. I love my life now. So of course I gave myself a photoshoot for my birthday.
I decided that for once I wanted my own photoshoot instead of shooting other people or products. I’m still not the prettiest, tallest or richest; but I like myself more. I go to the gym, eat healthy food and pay my bills mostly on time. I get my taxes done. And I pay actual money for things instead of getting them from pr firms. Which brings us to this glorious grey floral Guess raincoat. I picked it because I hate windbreakers and regular tan trenches bore me. I wanted a spring coat that satisfied my love for pretty girly things while keeping me from getting soaked in the rain. I wore it with a plain linen shirt/dress with eyelet lace detail and a funky floral Sondra Robertson clutch with a wooden handle. Those glasses are from The Children’s Place and I found them at Goodwill.
I was attempting to clean up the desk I never work at and found this vision book that I started back in Chicago. I haven’t looked at it since I moved in here 3 years ago. I think I put it on the desk with the intention of working in it and then it just became a huge dust magnet.
This was basically how I plotted for fashion shoots, styling, or just thinking what I would get if I had unlimited cash. Or at least a few hundred to throw away. On whatever.
It was so weird to see these photo business cards I got from moo, to promote my fashion photography thing. I can never tell if I have talent or not. Sometimes I think I rock, and sometimes I worry that I’ll be flipping burgers at 65 years old.
The visionbook makes a great photo backdrop. I went on a job interview Friday, and bought these sequinned notecards at Target to send a thank-you note. I went through the whole rack and these reminded me of champagne bubbles floating up in the glass and I’m hoping that sending this to the person that interviewed me will get me back into the creative arena IRL. Fingers crossed.
The summer beach layout. I made this collage in 2010, and this page still pops. Sandals, bikini, see through coverups… timeless summer inspiration pages.
I studied to be a photographer. meaning I actually went to a school, applied to be allowed to go there, went through a home exam and a couple of interviews, and then when I thought I would die they let me in and I cried and was happy and then went to school and went into debt, but we won’t talk about that. What we’re focusing on is that I actually went to school to learn how to take photos (and write coherently and do graphic design) because that’s how I wanted to make money.
I picked my job. I just didn’t know you needed a penis to do it.
I started studying in the late 90s, before digital so I actually had to go in the darkroom, develop film, print images etc. I was lucky enough to get internships at two major studios, the second one in the equipment room. I can actually set up and break down large amounts of photo equipment alone. Like, all by myself with nobody helping me. I can use cameras of varying sizes (35mm, medium format, 4×5) all by myself. I’m proud of this.
Unfortunately photography is not something that you do all by yourself all the time. At some point you have to work on a team and that means working with models, makeup artists, hair stylists, wardrobe stylists and photo assistants. Even without a client and editors, If the photographer and staff each have two assistants that’s 15 people on board.
I’m pretty sure that I could handle that. I love bossing people around almost as much as I love taking pictures.
But I wonder sometimes, is my vagina stopping me from being successful?
I’ve assisted male photographers, and they don;t get treated the same. I mean, so yeah, you can’t flirt with me, but does that make me any less of a photographer? Ok, no I can’t date you, but am I less of a photographer? I once saw someone grab a male photographer I knew and beg to work with him. It’s ok if I was standing right there and had been building a realtionship with them in order to get work. I mean, don;t mind poor vagina having me when you can get a MAN.
I once assisted for a male photographer who did high fashion. I had to access and answer his email account and It was devastating. People offered him mansions to shoot in, tons of emails from models and stylists, and all of it was ‘you’re so amazing! let us give you money!!!’. I mean a lot of emails and emails from other mail photographers offering him help, looking to hang out, asking for advice…
At that point I wanted to have a sex change operation because my email box is tumbleweed city. At that time I was actively seeking work and promoting myself, and I got a job every so often. One year I made $5,00 and I considered that amazing. If I had a penis it would have been $5,000,000. I know it.
But funnily, I don’t blame the guys. I know for a fact that a female makeup artists will get a man work before she’ll help a female photographer because I’ve seen it happen. A female editor or client will go with a male photographer. Why? Hormones. he’s cute, omg look at those eeeeyeeeesssss… and he’s hired. Me? let’s not go there, ok?. And men will hire men because they’re men and they can all hang out and be men together and look at nekkid models and ten marry them and have model babies.
Me? I’m sorry, but male models make me feel weird, like- you are not gonna be prettier than me. So it doesn’t quite work like that for me.
Now, I have good ideas- but I am a 5’2″ black woman who wears overalls to shoot in because I’d rather be ready to crawl on the floor adjusting cables or smoothing out backdrops than trying to look cute. I think my work is good, but I’m not paying me. I don’t flirt because, hello? I’m a stinking photographer and my photoshoot is not where I look for dates or husbands.
I am probably doing this all wrong.
I started blogging because it was a way to keep taking photos, even if I had to take them of myself. Through blogging I’ve learned how much I love product photography, which you can do all alone, and how much I love getting dressed up to go to events. I do squirm a little, thinking that I’ve sold myself out just so that I can get free lipstick and wrinkle cream. I do wonder why it’s so much more acceptable for me to be ‘stylish’ than to be a paid photographic creative. I’m taking pictures, but are they the pictures I set out to take all along? Did I do all that model casting, thinking, plotting, planning, lighting, location scouting, wardrobe styling, and fighting just to wear cute clothes and go to blogger events?
I hear a lot about gender inequality in fashion, and I think that by hiring female imaging professionals (aka photographers) to shoot those fashion shoots and ads we can start closing the gap. I think more black editors should hire black female photographers for their magazines. I think female wardrobe stylists and makeup artists should recc their female photography associates and pass on jobs to them. I think gender and racial inequality can only be addressed when everyone, not just the men, are in there pitching whoever is best for the job.
If I’m that person, don’t go through my portfolio and earmark pics to show to a man to re-shoot them. Hire ME. And yeah, stuff like that happens, to men and women.
I’m a good photographer. I’m not flashy about it and maybe I need to be. I don’t say other people suck (men will do that, and I hate it. “Oh, that guy sucks” just because you want the job), and I think I bring a lot to the table because I’m fun to work with but my main objective is to get the job done. I will do the art direction, creative direction, write the copy, do the styling, do the makeup, hold everyone’s hand, make sure they get fed, make sure we get the shot, make sure to clean it all up afterwards. Cuz I’m awesome, and because that’s what needs to be done.
Since everyone is out there screaming about inequality, I’m going to test the fashion and photo industries. I am going to put my portfolio together and I am going to get back out there and market myself like the guys taught me to. I will make 2016 my year to make it as a photographer in New York. I’m gonna go hustle and see what happens. Because if people are really about change, I should be the perfect person to hire. Right? We’ll see.