READ PART 1
Are you on tour?
Yes I am. I was in New York for two years and then in 2007 I moved back to New Orleans. I had been pining for New Orleans the whole time I was gone. But when I got back to New Orleans I started dealing with the painful realization that the New Orleans I was pining for is not there anymore. Not to mention with all the influx of new people and new relationships, the stuff that sustained me there before I no longer have that same situation. So, I started recognizing people always had been asking when I’m going to come [to their cities]. I just started finding places where the most people are asking for me. I get deposits from them and go there. At this point I don’t have a home. I live in the world and I travel the world. And people bring me where they want me next. I make money there and I make friends there. Either I know where I’m going or I find out where I’m going while I’m there. Then I go to the next spot. And I’ve been doing this since February.
So this traveling started this year?
Yes, this way in particular. I had been traveling and getting gigs, but I hadn’t really put the value and the knowing that I can take my art to the people who want it. I don’t have kids. I’m not married. I’m free to see the world and take the world on my own terms.
Do you have a base?
Right now I don’t have a base.
So, you’re just living out of your suitcase going…
From city to city
Oh I would love to do that.
Through touring with music and poetry I have connections all over. There’s always a place for me to lay my head.
That’s really powerful because when I think of Katrina I think of fragmentation in the black diaspora. And Katrina has created more pieces in the black diaspora because people are dispersed.
I went to New York with the bag of books I had on my arm and the clothes I was wearing when Katrina happened. And I ended up being on HBO [Def Poetry Jam] and having my name on the marquee of the Apollo. I did all of these things I dreamed about and so it made it more clear than ever that I have everything I need. With that understanding it’s painful of not having the home I am accustomed to in New Orleans but everywhere is my home.
How to find models when you travel?
Finding models is the easy part. Finding clients is what matters. When I get to a place I make sure I have my clients in tact. I walk up to somebody randomly and say, “This is going to sound crazy to you but…”
Or I’m online and I’ll write somebody or come across a photograph and say, “Check out my work. You should be in it.” Because it’s striking work and has an intention that makes people feel good, more times than not folks are like “I’m afraid, but I’d love to.” Sometimes people are like, “Why are they naked? Why does everybody have to be naked?” And I understand…You can't take it personal if somebody says no.
And I am the secret keeper. I’m that dude that comes in and gives you the opportunity to be the you you often don’t have the opportunity to be without negative connotations or judgments. And then I go to another city. And because of the intimate degree of what I’m doing, the person I’m shooting is my friend now.
Well, yeah especially since you’ve seen all of them.
But there’s a very therapeutic side of getting somebody to let go of the stuff they’re holding on to. People are crying in shoots. I’m asking them questions and they’re talking about things that people who’ve known them all their lives don’t know. So we’re building a relationship in two hours that you don’t have with people you see everyday. I end up becoming fast friends with people. People call me for advice that has nothing to do with photography because I’ve shown myself to be more accepting of what they’re going through than most people they know.
A lot of your pieces I’ve seen will remind me of my era when I become an old woman. What do you think your photos will say about African Americans 40 to 50 years from now?
I thought hard about this. I realize that I am creating a time capsule that years from now…I think it will say something very different than what the dominant media says… I’ll have thousands of images that say black people love the hell out of black people. And we do it well.
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