As September marks back to school for kids, September also marked a new beginning for me as well. In July the tiles in my basement started to pop up from the floor. To this day, we’re not sure what caused that to happen. So some tiles had to be removed and replaced. It was a very dirty job the whole basement was covered in dust but after 6 about weeks of re-tiling, painting, and cleaning, the basement is functional again.
During the time where my home studio was out of service, I had to adapt. It’s like that saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I had to adapt to my situation so I focused more on doing events such as baby showers and birthdays and doing more jobs on location.
My first client for my grand re-opening was Sharifah Weir of Love Thick Apparel. Now, this isn’t the first time working with Sharifah we did a product shoot a couple years ago when she was starting out. She’s doing quite well and I like the campaign that she’s running with her “Women are Dope” line and inspiring women of all shapes and sizes to be self-confident and role models.
The next client was from a new clothing line called Totally African. Here in Toronto where there are so many cultures and we embrace and borrow from each other, this line is great for people that love the colours and designs of African fashion. We just started working together but I hope that we can grow together and I always try to support young businesses.
So the home studio is back up and running. I still have to put the pictures back on the wall but I’M BACK!! So contact me at Degrey Photography for your family portraits, headshots, and photo shoots.
Recently I was asked to photograph a great charity event that helps families in Africa. Fortunately for me, I have been very busy with other jobs and editing, but when Arlene, the wife of one of the founding members contacted me, I couldn’t say no.
The organization that I worked for is called Homes4Hope What they’re doing is amazing. They have partnered up with CBM and Habitat for Humanity to provide homes to families in Africa for children living with disabilities.
What I love about this group is, they’re not just throwing money at a cause and going home to their comfy homes and their nice meals, they’re actually in these countries helping build homes themselves with their own two hands.
This past April they travelled to Malawi. I follow current events but I’d have to admit, that I don’t know a lot about Malawi. All I knew that it was somewhere in Africa. Well, I learned that 74% of the population is below the poverty line. The average GDP per capita is $220 compared to Canada which is $45,000. Many of us make $220 in a day. Just imagine $220 a YEAR. The people that Homes 4 Hope helped make about $5 per month and $3 of that goes to rent. Then imagine that you have a child with special needs on top of that? Truly heartbreaking as I write this on my computer with all the amenities that I can ask for.
But the people at Homes 4 Hope are making a difference 1 family at a time. Since they’ve started only a few years ago, they’ve raised $500,000 and improved the living conditions of over 40 families by building 40 homes.
I would like to thank Arlene Karram and the board members of Homes 4 Hope for inviting me to take photos and the wonderful staff at The Broadview Hotel.For more information about this cause and to donate, please visit http://homes4hope.ca/
Proposals to the Governor and Prison commissioner of Attica
State troopers at Attica 1971
Black Panther Poster
This weekend I took a trip to the Ryerson Image Centre in downtown Toronto. I saw an ad in the paper about this photo gallery and I told my friend @ryhanks that we should check this out because that’s right up our alley being into Photography and African-American history. The problem with the society that we live in, is there are so many distractions so I forgot about the exhibit until I was deleting some photos from my phone and I saw a picture of the flyer that I took while I was on the TTC and I saw that the last day was April 9th.
I took the subway to Dundas station and walked over to the Ryerson Image Centre. It was my first time there and it was a nice clean building with all the amenities. I first saw a video board and a short film by a former Black Panter. It was mind blowing that you can still see the bullet holes in a house from a shootout that took place in 1968.
Although I am a photographer, for some reason I find it strange to take photos of photos or art so I left my camera at home and just used my phone. They had a guided tour of the exhibit but you were also free to walk around as you pleased so, I did a quick lap before the tour started. There were a lot of powerful images and some were definitely not for the faint of heart.
The Attica rebellion took place before I was born and I heard of it but I didn’t know very much about it. When I listened to the tour guide speak about it, I was in disbelief of the living conditions that the inmates went through. 63 cents for food a DAY, 1 bar of soap and one roll of toilet paper per MONTH. The Latino inmates that received letters from their friends and families automatically got thrown out if it was written in Spanish since none of the correction officers read Spanish and all correspondence were read before reaching the intended receiver. The prison was predominantly black and latino.
43 men lost their lives during that period in September 1971 and they were killed by the authorities. Litigation carried on until 2015 and the State Government paid $8,000,000 to the families of the victims of the slain prisoners and $12 Million to the families victims of the prison employees. But I think most importantly, never admitted any wrongdoing for the incident in the first place.
As a black man and watching the world that I currently live in, this situation was eerily similar to what I see going on today with Police brutality and the American prison industrial complex. Just when things start to move in the right direction, a powerful corporation or lobbyist group tries to pull the world backwards and tries to convince us as the human race that everything is fine how it is. And because most of the protesters do not have the ability to sway the politicians and the politicians are afraid to go against the lobbyists, we get thrown into this ugly cycle of hate and injustice. I think the biggest difference between 1971 and 2017 is that middle-class whites now see what’s happening with visible minorities and a lot of them don’t agree with the injustices with drug laws, police killings are now on camera, the Dakota Access Pipeline affecting the ways of life of the First Nations people and the environment as a whole. We are truly in a time where the whole world is watching and the decisions of many are made by the few.
This weekend, I woke up on Saturday morning and turned on CP24 as I usually do to check the weather for the day. I saw that there was a rally scheduled outside the US Embassy so I automatically perked up and saw an opportunity to take photos.
I intended to take the TTC but I was afraid of being late so I drove downtown and walked to the protest location.
I was surprised at the vast number of people that attended of all walks of life that were all united against the US travel ban. There were members of Black Lives Matter, Leaders of the Chinese community, the Muslim community, a Holocaust survivor and others all united against Donald Trump’s foreign policies. I saw people of all races, sexual orientation, young and elderly all against the Travel Ban. The dissent that I have noticed in the last few weeks is definitely eye-opening, not just here in North America but worldwide. I watch TV sometimes and think “Is this really happening?” I see people on social media obsessed with selfies and filters on Snapchat and wonder if they are aware or care about the things happening around us. But I digress, everyone needs an escape and luckily for me, photography has become mine.
I hope you enjoy these images from Yesterdays Muslim Ban protest in Toronto
I got a call from my cousin Patrick to shoot my cousin’s Paul’s wedding the night before the wedding. It totally caught me off guard but I agreed and got my things together. Just as I was 2 lights away from the church, my car just shuts off on its own. Which was the beginning of some car trouble but I made it on time thankfully?
Just like my cousin’s personality, the wedding was low-key and subdued. It was a bright and sunny day and I’m happy that he made this leap to being a family man.Congratulations to Paul & Nellie Thomas.
Thanks to my partner in crime Ryan Hinkson (@eatfamous), I was lucky enough to attend the 2016 Gentlemen’s Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention centre this weekend.
As a photographer, there were so many interesting things to capture at the Gentlemen’s Expo. Both myself and Ryan love fashion and the Gentlemen’s Expo did not disappoint with tailors, handmade pocket squares and ties. Ryan, being one of the men behind the Eat Famous brand got to see different foods and they had a live cooking show for your viewing pleasure.
I also got to learn about some beverages that I previously wasn’t privy to. As I was walking around I saw a friend of mine that was working at the Innis & Gunn beer booth. Innis & Gunn is a Scottish beer that I couldn’t get enough of. In fact, I went to the LCBO the next day and bought some. Also,
Old Fashioned Classic Shave
Live Cooking Show
Eat Famous & Julian Compton
Innis & Gunn
Men’s Fashion Show
Leap of Faith
King & Bay Custom Clothing had a mixologist making Old Fashioneds. Now, I’m not sure if I’d had them before but I think that’s my new drink.
All in all, it was a good evening and I’m looking forward to a bigger and better Gentlemen’s Expo in 2017.
In the last 18 months or so, this photography thing is starting to pick up in terms of bookings and recognition. The bookings are great, the recognition is a bit strange for me but I guess I’ll get used to it as time goes on.
But thanks to some great people and entertainment companies, I’ve been able to meet some famous people and be fortunate to have my camera with me during these events. Two of the last three events however I’ve seen celebrities that DO NOT want to be photographed although my client(s) want pictures of all the stars to boost their profiles in the city and beyond. I almost felt like “Have I became the guy that Kanye wants to punch and break my camera?” If I take the photo will it go viral all over social media? Can I get in trouble for posting it or just leave them alone?
The first time I met Walshy Fire of Major Lazer, I met him as my friend’s cousin. We were talking and there were flash bulbs going off all over the place. Then it hit me, “Oh this guy’s a big deal.” A few weeks ago I was shooting a party hosted by the Comedian Russell Peters and people are taking pictures, snapping and trying to get his attention. I wrote a note on my phone asking where his friends were. It’s funny you have some celebrities that are in public settings and don’t want to be photographed as if they didn’t exist and others that have people waiting in line to get a picture or take a selfie with them. I guess there’s no right or wrong way to handle your adoring public because your fans can make or break your career. Especially with social media, you just have to deal with those consequences. As for myself, I see myself as a fan of these people but I would rather be the cool fan with a camera than the annoying guy trying to get an unsolicited photo for a few bucks.
It’s been a while but I managed to make it back to school at George Brown’s Continuing Education program. This time I’m taking the Photography of People course to try to improve my portraiture skills. I’ve always enjoyed taking their classes as it challenges me to think outside of the norm as well as learning the fundamentals. I’m always learning and I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I think I know it all, but learning is something I’ve always enjoyed and I’m always trying to grow as a person.