It was exactly one week ago today that I arrived in Durham, NC for the 2nd Open Photo Shoot of 50 Shades of Black. My anticipation was high and I was thrilled about the promise of building new relationships, furthering the mission of 50 Shades of Black, and physically meeting Chris Charles (50 Shades of Black featured artist and 2nd Open Shoot Host) for the first time. Standing outside of 300 E. Main was his lovely partner and amazing artist Rachel Stewart and two burgeoning NC photographers. One of them was Kimberly Joy. The photos that she captured, the friendship that we formed, and this reflection below that she offers have all been a pleasant surprise. I am ultimately grateful for her contribution, her growing talent, and for all that is to come from this inspiring young talent. -Carlton
I would like to thank Carlton for asking me to blog about my experience at the 50 Shades of Black Event held in Durham, NC with featured Artist Chris Charles (my mentor). I normally express myself with photography instead of words but I am grateful and honored for the opportunity to share my experience. I do not know when the last time I felt a room full of positive energy and love. The genuineness at 300 East Main, where the event was held, was amazing. I was in a room full of people whom I have never seen before and it felt like we were all kindred spirits. Every conversation filled the room with laughter and every smile was welcoming. I did not realize how much my soul desired the positive energy of my people until that day. I strongly believed we needed each other’s beauty and as a result it became a blessed event. My heart aches when we cannot get along as a community. A piece of me die when one of our youth dies a senseless death or when we tear one another down with unpleasant words. So my soul celebrated with joy, capturing behind the scene moments of everyone enjoying one another while waiting to have their photograph taken.
I left the 50 Shades of Black Community photo-shoot inspired and motivated. This experience made me think hard about my photography and if I am making a difference in my community. So, as a result of my self- reflection, I decided to a photo series on black women entitled, “I Am B.E.A.U.T.Y”. This series will explore how black women define beauty and if skin color affects whether a person is regarded as beautiful. I am very excited about this project and I cannot wait to share it with all of you. Until then let us continue to uplift our community through our God given talents! Iron sharpens Iron.
MORE BEHIND THE SCENES PHOTOS by Kimberly Joy