The impulse we have to preserve memories tells us a lot about the role of photography in our lives. In this generation, especially, we have a constant desire to condense our most precious moments into images. When it comes to pictures our focus tends to be the image itself, never the process that preceded. After speaking with three of D.C.’s own prominent photographers, I was able to get the perspective behind the lens. Brandon “Yogi” Shields, Adedayo “Dayo” Kosoko and David Carnegie Harty, each born in Prince George’s County, Maryland, offer their viewpoints and advice on this facet of visual arts.
Brandon “Yogi” Shields first realized he had a passion for photography in 2014.
“When I first started, Stephen Vanasco (“Van Styles”) inspired the way I was shooting. I met him at DC Photo Week, and we had a dope conversation. I also admired the work of Brandon Jordan, Roy DeCarava, Jonathan Mannion, Chi Modu, Helmut Newton, Vogue photographers Peter Lindbergh, Gordon Parks and Steven Meisel. The community of my peers is always inspiring as well.”
What sets Yogi apart is the fact that he doesn’t try to be like anyone else. He says that the only competition he has is himself.
“Realize that you are the commodity in the room; everybody needs pictures. Look at yourself as valuable. With time and dedication, my work is constantly evolving and becoming something new. ”
The same goes for photographer Adedayo “Dayo” Kosoko. Taking on photography full-time within the past couple of years, Dayo offers a unique outlook on what it takes to be successful on every level when it comes to pursuing a career in the arts.
“I don’t believe in competition. There’s a fan for everybody. With any art form, the key is to create content you’re happy with. Realize that not everybody is going to like you; if your work moves just one person, that’s all that matters.”
Dayo’s advice to those looking to get into photography or any other creative endeavor is to faithfully work on their craft.
“People forget in this day and age to do their homework. You don’t need the most expensive camera to be a great photographer. Actually understanding lighting, aperture, depth and other features of a camera will make you very skilled and feel much more fulfilled. If your goal is instant gratification and just to ‘be the man,’ you won’t go very far or get that feeling of true gratification. Work on your craft, keep shooting and the rest will follow.”
David Carnegie Harty, who goes by the name “Carnegie,” offers similar advice when it comes to perfecting your craft.
“To master your technique you have to keep going, keep shooting and take your camera off automatic. When I first started shooting, a friend told me to ‘recreate the shot.’ This gave me an even more in depth understanding of what I could do with a camera.”
Carnegie’s confidence in his individuality has allowed him to evolve rapidly in the DMV’s photography scene. “No one sees what I see. If I try to do something someone else’s way, I lose myself.”
The fact that he rarely goes anywhere without his camera is telling of his passion for photography.
“When I shoot, I want to evoke feeling. I want to express how I feel in these specific moments, whether it be happy or sad. My grandmother was the first person I witnessed with a camera, and I’ve been fascinated ever since.”
These artists’ achievements of course didn’t come without moments of self-doubt and creative blocks. When Yogi encounters these blocks, he views them as “downloading periods,” an expression he learned from Erykah Badu. During these times he takes in as much information as possible by reading more books and magazines. Likewise, Carnegie takes time to put his camera down and simply observe to gain inspiration.
Each of these creatives agree that the goal of photography is to be able to tell a story in one moment. Dayo likens photography to dancing.
“Photography is the process of creating with someone. The synergy between me and the person I’m taking a picture of is most important. When the relationship is good, it works. When one person in the relationship is off, the pictures are off.”
Look out for upcoming projects and collaborations from Yogi (@YOGITHESHOOTER), Carnegie (@CARNEGIE__) and Dayo (@THEARTHYPE) by checking out their social media platforms.