All I needed was a headshot. Just one. A shoulder-up pic of some sort to include in the author bio section of my upcoming book. Something maybe, and I stress this maybe wholeheartedly, that would make me consider creating a Linkedin. I think I may be the only person who does not have a Linkedin and I’m actually fine with that. (I’m not creating a Linkedin). But I wanted to try something different with this headshot. Something clean. Something presentable. Something that would represent where I am currently with my craft. And so, on last Saturday, October 30th, in collaboration with my brother Levern Nichols, we took to the cobbled-stone streets of Fells (Baltimore’s nickname for Fells Point) for an impromptu photoshoot. The outcome was nothing less than amazing.
It was a Saturday, the day before Halloween in addition to the long-anticipated Poly vs. City OR City vs. Poly Tailgate (I say that respectfully to both sides of the rivalry) and “Outside” (a pandemic- created word inferencing the act of one being on the scene) was lit. So lit that at times the stop-and-go traffic we maneuvered in and around stood still because everyone driving wanted to stop and get a glimpse of individuals dressed in this year’s Halloween chic. I saw a guy dressed as Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World rapping a Pop Smoke verse. I had to flick it up with him.
Halloween in Fells is undefeated and always a good time and this shoot was a testament to that. Here are some of the shots we took and an inclusive sit-down with the man behind the lens.
WALLACE: “Yooo, we gotta park to catch golden hour, it’s golden hour bro!” That’s all I remember you saying bro as we pulled up to shoot the pics. Can you explain exactly what Golden Hour is?
LEVERN: Golden hour is the earth’s most vulnerable point. That in-between, night & day moment when the sun kisses the earth’s plains. In nature, this time signifies whether you are prey or hunter. In our world, I believe this hour can accentuate who we truly are in between that exhale.
Shadows can signify our hidden parts. What is it we hide, our insecurity, our lost selves, death. As the golden light reflects our triumphs of life from past to our curious futures, this soft light highlights us so we are seen even through the pain. And it’s beautiful.
It’s like a natural beauty filter.”
WALLACE: Ok Ok. Well said. I get it and you killed that “Golden Hour”. We can come back to that and maybe you can show me how to shoot Golden Hour with an iPhone ha ha ha…Real quick, what prompted you to become a photographer? Like, what made you wanna pick up the camera and shoot?
LEVERN: Always being told “be aware of your surroundings” … Sounds wild, but literally walking around Baltimore, sitting on the steps, on the bus stop with my mom I saw beauty all around me. Everything I see is beautiful. It’s a story that entices you to be aware, being curious of the people, moods, movement, colors, texture, the light. One snap and it’s a memory. It took 20 years, an initiative to Africa and my beautiful girlfriend who helped me to finally pick the camera up.
WALLACE: Who or what are your biggest inspiration(s)? And why?
LEVERN: Perspective & Emotion. Like, it starts with me. How I feel, what I see…then it shifts. How I see what I feel. That’s inspiration right there, and whenever you look into my photos you’ll connect in that similar manner. That’s us as humans — perspective & emotion. It’s our interaction.
WALLACE: What is your most used phone app?
LEVERN: Random, umm I don’t know lol … Instagram
WALLACE: Ha ha ha…I thought you would say some photography app, you see what I did there? Kept you on your feet. I think you did that perfectly during our shoot. I know nothing about photoshoots and I rarely smile and more often than none, I’m stiff when it comes to posing. In fact, I only have two good poses — the side-look away (my favorite) and the left-leg-against-the-wall. I kill those though. But one thing I noticed you did well was help me feel more comfortable and confident while shooting. I think that’s a good trait every photographer should have — connecting with individuals and art. At one point, you even said, “Bro I’m not taking shit if you don't stop being stiff.” That got me motivated but I can’t say I would let that slide from any other photographer. Who are your top three photographers?
LEVERN: I honestly just started researching other photographers mainly black and as of right now my tops are Gordon Parks, Jamel Shabazz, Jax. Jax?Oh, my sons. He’s 5 and has a unique ass perspective. Honestly, I can’t wait for his first exhibition. Would be love for us to have one together.
WALLACE: Man, I love that bro. We know firsthand how important being a father is a Black Father at that. Our sons deserve valuable lessons we were never taught. Lessons that will help them discover and ultimately conquer their path. Speaking of lessons, what is the biggest lesson you learned this year so far?
LEVERN: Control what you control and then just let stuff be. That’s a self-care essential.
WALLACE: Last but not least, what kind of photographer are you? Like what is your aesthetics? Your style?
LEVERN: I’d say all my work is Fine Art. Whether it’s Street, Portrait, Abstract painting…I’m a self-taught creative.
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Wallace Lane is a poet, author, educator, and now a self-acclaimed Young OG who currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
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