This had been for a very long time, just a concept in my head. For years, I found myself fascinated with ghetto fashion, slang, style, and everything else in between. As a photographer, it served as a visual playground and the speech would amaze me. Looking back I realized how much the ghetto influenced my work. Its bold, vibrant and full of energy. The slang is hard, lyrical and edgy. Every part of the world has a term for its urban areas; hood, ghetto, slum translated to the people being termed “trick, hood rat, thug, gangster, jungaless (jun-ga-less) harajuku, redneck etc… Everyone can relate to these terms.
For me, the goal was translating this into art, fashion and photography. How do I relate this to a culture I was raised in? What things should I highlight, what do I title it? What do I focus on? For years I just kept the thought locked up. Then I decided to plan and execute. I did tons of research, driving through the ghettos of New Providence, observing the natives and watching their tendencies and it only made me even more hungry to get this shoot going. Sometime had passed and I only became more hesitant to shoot here where I lived. Crime was definitely a factor so again, I put this idea on hold. Until one day, I picked up the phone and called model Tomii Culmer, I told her the idea and she immediately gave me a resounding “YES!”
Now, Tomii lived in Freeport, the city of one of the out islands in The Bahamas but I was ok with that. I sourced the entire team who conveniently lived in Freeport. It was an opportunity to work with other talented people. Ashley, Gail, Navie, Alfred, Monette all agreed to come on board as team players to make the shoot happen. For weeks we planned and needed one more piece of the puzzle…a stylist.
Now I’d just shot fashion stylist Lavonne Alexis for her blog and I thought to pitch the idea to her. Lavonne jumped up with excited, almost catapulting herself out her living room couch. She loved the concept and she ran with it, sourcing pieces from local stores like Diva’s Body language, Fashion Ova Style, Shop the CC and Stiletto Shoe Loft, she came up with some incredible looks for Tomii all matching the ghetto lifestyle theme.
Freeport was amazing! We shot around different settlements like Pinder’s Point, Hawksbill and Pioneer’s Way. With Assistance from photographer Alfred Anderson and Tomii’s BF GeeJay Cox, the team worked masterfully to create true works of art with each look. Albeit experiencing some conflict with a few residents, we pushed through a 2 day, almost 16 hour set and we made magic!
Credits Model: Tomii Culmer
Styling: LaVonne Alexis
MUA: Gail McIntosh
Hair: Gifted Handsz
Nails: Monette Newbold
Assisted by: Alfred Anderson, GeeJay Cox