When I first started photographing professionally, all I remember is wanting to make people feel good about themselves. I didn’t really have any photography goals in mind; didn’t see it as a career; and didn’t think about where it would lead to. I only wanted to photograph people at their best; to make them feel good about how they looked (increasing self-esteem), and to make them remember moments in their life that they could be proud of. This made me feel good, and I felt a comfort and peace in doing it. It felt right.
Fast forward to today, and I’m almost approaching 10 years in this business. In fact, back when I first started, I didn’t even know what my position in this business would be, or look like 10 years forward. I think about these things whenever I reach a new accomplishment or exciting moment for my business and its growth. I begin reminiscing about everything from my first newborn session (because they are very difficult requiring tons of patience); my first wedding (because of the extremely long hours and nerves around not missing key important shots); all the way up to (as recently as last year) photographing my first celebrity client.
Although at the start of my photography journey I had no thoughts on growing my business, increasing my brand, or making photography into a professional career – life had (and has) other plans for me. This past weekend I participated in the NBA Allstar Weekend in my hometown Chicago. I was invited to photograph a celebrity event for two nights. Yes, I’ve photographed a handful of celebrities and notables (you can check out the website to see these photos), but I’d never photographed anything comparable to two full nights of NBA Allstar weekend events.
First of all, these events were going to clearly be past my normal bed time. (I have a five-year-old that thinks her bedtime is also my bedtime… and it always turns out that way.) Secondly, these events were going to be full of celebrities. Talk about exciting. I was confident that I could get the job done, but it brought back feelings of ‘firsts’. All of the first times that I photographed clients. Photographing a multi-celebrity event over the course of two days would be new to me, but if I know anything for sure – it’s to never pass up any opportunities that present themselves.
So, I found myself this past weekend at a Chicago venue with several celebrities who were celebrating NBA Allstar Weekend. I received an all access media/press badge, had my name put on a step-and-repeat backdrop, and had a spot in the venue’s media room. I photographed the following:
Stephen Jackson: Retired professional NBA basketball player who played 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association with the New Jersey Nets, Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats, San Antonio Spurs, and Los Angeles Clippers.
Karen Civil: Entrepreneur and Celebrity Brand Curator who has worked with celebrities Hillary Clinton and Nipsey Hustle; along with the Louis Vuitton and Beats by Dre brands.
Ms. Juicy Baby: Radio and TV personality known for being a long-time contributor to the Rickey Smiley Morning Show. She also made a name for herself on Little Women: Atlanta despite not being part of the original cast.
Da Baby: Rapper and songwriter from Charlotte, North Carolina. He is best known for his single 'Cash Shi@' with Megan Thee Stallion, and singles "Suge" and "Bop", peaking at numbers seven and eleven respectively on the Billboard Hot 100.
Willie Harvey Jr.: NFL linebacker for the Cleveland Browns;
and, Renee Montgomery: Basketball player for the Atlanta Dream of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). She won national championships with the UConn Huskies in 2009, and with the Minnesota Lynx in 2015 and 2017.
Not to mention that I was in the building with Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, and singer Sevyn Streeter, who I didn’t get to photograph because of changed plans due to crowd control. (Face palm.) No complaints though! I anticipate that I will get a chance to see, meet, and photograph them again in the future because, the same way that this opportunity came to me, I believe that it will come again.
Most of my celebrity photography opportunities have come organically… right place, right time, no stress or competition involved. I’d like to believe that favor has played a big part in this. I pray, with my child, every morning for it. Have you ever heard the saying ‘Favor ain’t fair’? I truly believe this... and know that favor is a thing. So I pray to God, that He gives me a bit of an edge amongst all of the dope photographers in my city (because there are many.) That He lets people speak well of me within and outside of my presence; and that He guides my photography career in the direction of its destiny - even when I myself am clueless on where it is going or what to do next. Yes. I believe that these great opportunities are leading me in a direction; and as TD Jakes said in one of his YouTube sermons… (I don’t know the exact quote, but here’s the gist of it)… The one thing you can count on is seasons changing. The land will sometimes be dry, but make no mistake, rain will soon come. Will you be ready for the rain?... Are you planting your seeds, so that when the rain comes you will be ready to reap what you sowed? OR, will you reap nothing, and just get wet?
I believe that every opportunity presented to me, to all of us. is one step in the direction of our destiny. But the key is, we have to be ready and consistently planting the seeds that will reap our favor. We have to place ourselves in positions, and amongst people that have the same intentions: intentions of growth, intentions of success, and intentionally sowing to reap. This past weekend was so cool, so impressive, and so historical (NBA All Star weekend in cold and windy Chicago – go figure!) But it was also hard work, pressure, and very long hours… the parts of photography that people don’t see or think about when looking into my window. I would do it all over again. Not just for the sake of taking photographs of celebrities, but also because being around so many successful people is extremely encouraging. It reminded me of what is possible; and to take my goals and dreams all the way to the top. I am looking forward to what’s to come in the world of celebrity photography for Pose by LCG Photography and Video. What are you looking forward to? What seeds are you sowing this year? The rain is coming. I'm rooting for us all!
Below are other businesses that serviced NBA All Star weekend events: