Fresh Lenses: 5 PGH Photographers To Follow (Part 1)

Photos by Sarah Bader

Article by DeVaughn Robinson

The visual curators of Pittsburgh have definitely elevated the way we see the city of steel. Finally businesses, brands, and others have realized the importance of quality visual branding. We rounded up 5 photographers (Chris Hunter, Hank Malone, Sharimar Y.C., Jasano Brooks, and WLLFLWR) whose separate distinct styles standout and they speak on what legacy they’d like to leave when people look at their careers.

 

Chris Hunter (@ilooney)

What vision are you trying to deliver to the people with your work?

With photography, I use it as a helping guide. To help me connect with others, network, collaborate, work, create, build. What I’m trying to do, is help others to not stop creating. Because without art, life would be boring.

What is a distinct quality that helps you stand out from a large field of individuals picking up a camera?

I could be at a concert with 10 other photographers in the city. Some are still learning, others are good. We can all stand in the same area and shoot the same shot. But what makes me stand out, is my timing on the shot. My angle, the depth, that eye.

What legacy are you trying to leave when people look back at your collective portfolio?

I’m going to leave behind my name. What’s more legendary than that? People will know and remember me. For all good deeds. Rather it’s behind that camera or behind my smile. Chris Hunter, that guy who spread positivity through art.

Hank Malone (@hankisdope)

What vision are you trying to deliver to the people with your work?

I’m trying to deliver myself as an visual artist. I’ve been drawing and designing before I started photography and videography. When it comes to my photo work, I want people to just appreciate the craft and enjoy the moment that was captured.

What is a distinct quality that helps you stand out from a large field of individuals picking up a camera?

I think my perspective on photography makes me different. I think of every photo shoot as just two people hanging out instead of a job. I feel the experience is just as important as the photos.

What legacy are you trying to leave when people look back at your collective portfolio?

I’m trying to leave a legacy as a visual artist. I want people to see the genuine connection in my portraits and lifestyle photos. I want people that I worked with to enjoy the process and continue creating.

Sharimar Y.C. (@sycroix)

What vision are you trying to deliver to the people with your work?

I grew up in the U.S Virgin Islands, and because of this I always felt a slight disconnect when it came to different fashion cultures. Because of this, I spent a lot of time on different media outlets, researching how fashion impacted the culture in cities across the world. In doing this, I felt like I was no longer in the small fashion bubble of the islands, and after moving to Pittsburgh for school, I definitely knew that I was no longer in that bubble. I was able to see first hand how the culture in a city affected the fashion within it. As a result of my own fashion evolution, it is my goal and responsibility as an island girl, to bridge the fashion gap between small town and big city. One day, I hope to make fashion more accessible to people growing up in a small town setting. Furthermore, I want to give the “Island Style” a larger platform, and a better known presence in the fashion world.

What is a distinct quality that helps you stand out from a large field of individuals picking up a camera?

My overall distinct quality when it comes to my work, can be simplified by one word. Diversity. However, not just diversity when it comes to the pigmentation of a person’s skin. But, diversity across the spectrum. I enjoy working with people of different backgrounds, and focuses. Yes, I love the noticeable beauty of shooting with experienced models. But, I also love the mystery of working with people who have no modeling experience at all. It is all about those hidden qualities of a person to me. I love to find that unique characteristic of a person, and making it flourish. Sometimes, I even like to incorporate my own unique characteristics to my work, with just a small splash of the islands.

What legacy are you trying to leave when people look back at your collective portfolio?

When I think about my legacy, I want people to truly take into consideration the importance of diversity in fashion. I always have and always will work hard to promote diversity through my work. When people look at my portfolio, I want them to be able to notice the bits and pieces of different cultures within my photos. Diversity is detrimental to the fashion industry. Without it, we would not have many of the fashion trends and styles that we have today. It has the biggest influence on the fashion industry over anything else. Looking at the fashion industry, is like looking at an intricate painting. There are many colors, and which ways of the brush strokes that are creating it. There are no rules to it, and it is inspired by a variety of different things. Diversity and fashion work hand in hand, and through the beauty of my work, I am confident that people will notice that. That is my legacy.

Jasano Brooks (@jasanobrooks)

What vision are you trying to deliver to the people with your work?

The most important vision, perception, or view I’m trying to deliver to people is mainly that there is more to each specific piece than meets the eye. Lately, my focus has been to create depth. By this I mean when an individual first encounters anything I have created, I want them to ponder and understand the thought process, the emotions, and feeling I’ve distilled into my work. Overall,I want humans to enjoy my work not for the physical characteristics of it, but for the intellectual side as well.

What is a distinct quality that helps you stand out from a large field of individuals picking up a camera?

I feel like I differentiate myself from others in many ways. First, I pride myself and my work. I would attest to the way I carry myself. Always working with the final cut in mind (may be slightly up-tense and controlling at times) but never Hollywood enough to not have fun with what I do. Secondly, I would refer to the styling that I configure with subjects or models. Before shooting, time is allotted so that outfits match locations and the overall vibe of the shoot or film. Lastly, would be location. Location, which is key in a city where it’s seen ONCE and duplicated THOUSANDS of times. My plan is to create a realistic feeling, instead of the vibe of just a planned picture.

What legacy are you trying to leave when people look back at your collective portfolio?

Honestly, I’m not necessarily concerned about my legacy. There is so much potential in Pittsburgh as a whole, but people don’t embrace each other enough. If we’re talking legacy, I’d like to see all my fellow creatives make it big time! That’s more than just individual fame. It leaves a lasting impression about Pittsburgh’s creative scene. That’s the legacy I would like to be part of. ONE WHERE EVERYONE FROM PITTSBURGH IS SUCCESSFUL.

WLLFLWR MEDIA INC (@_wllflwr_)

What vision are you trying to deliver to the people with your work?

Our vision at WLLFWR Media is to deliver professional work to each of our clients. We would like to show each client that they can be an individual and create their own style. The social standard is still set very high for how homely people are dressing and acting towards one another. We really want to show the world that when working with us, that they will not be manipulated or put down for how they are. The world needs more individuals, not just a herd of cattle off to the slaughter house.

Along with that, our vision is to be more than photographers or videographers. We are creating a full multi-media company that clients can come to, and we can build packages for them from design all the way through videos. It is not about what we look like or who we are; it is about our quality of work, and if we can deliver that quality of work time after time again.

What is a distinct quality that helps you stand out from a large field of individuals picking up a camera?

At WLLFLWR Media, we strive to show our clients that they do not need Photoshop or a bunch of filters on their photos. Too many photographers in the world, especially in Pittsburgh, use filters, and make their photos no longer photos in our opinion. In an age where the vast majority of cameras are digital, people believe that they can manipulate a photo and still call it a photo; it becomes almost like a painting. A true photograph is shot with what you have and with what is in front of you.

What legacy are you trying to leave when people look back at your collective portfolio?

In terms of a legacy, we want to be able to tell all of our clients that they do not need to live to the “social standard” that is set in society today. Many models and artists believe that they need heavy makeup and their skin touched up to look like a Playboy model. The social standard bar is set extremely high, especially for women, which is just wrong. As a society, we need to love ourselves and be an individual in the world. We believe in the true beauty of each individual that we work with and do not work with. Become an individual.

 

Written by Thomas Agnew