Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Interview with Photographer Saddi Khali Part 2


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.

You MUST visit Saddi Khali's work on Facebook, websites Saddi Khali and Saddirotica and follow him on Twitter.

And fly with Cocoa Fly on
Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Credits:
Saddi Khali


  1. This is a great article! Saddi is an amazing photographer and human being.
    All I could think when reading about his non-homelife is, "Sounds like a modern day Yahshua (Jesus) to me."

  2. Thanks! Glad you liked it. His work is amazing and I enjoyed our interview. I love being a journalist b/c I not only get to put the info out there for the public but also learn a lot myself.

  3. Wow I loved reading about this great photographer. His work is just amazing, and the curves that's depicted of his subjects seem to tell a story. I would love to see even more of his work because it's just beautiful. His personal story is quite amazing because to live out of a suitcase must be interesting, and adventurous. I would love to travel the world, and not have to worry about a mortgage, or who will water the grass. I see why people sell their home and travel in an RV across this country. I may just do it one of these days.

  4. Thanks anonymous. You can see more of his work on the links I provided at the end of the articles. I hope your RV road dreams come true. :)

  5. Saddi is truth, in his words, his images and the way he lives his life. I've never met him personally, but he has been kindhearted and generous with his words and energy. I'm glad you are sharing his blessed talents with us, there for multiplying them for all of our benefit. :)

  6. Hi Linda,
    Saddi is a very nice man and when you talk to him you can tell he really cares about people. He is extremely talented. Thanks for your comment and reading the article.

  7. My name is Phil Vibrant. I came into contact with Saddi through a mutual photography friend. Saddi is truly an inspiration to my work. This brother is awesome!!! His work is vibrant with luv (black luv as shown by the models... and luv of photography as shown by Saddi himself).


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