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  • Writer's pictureManny

Piedmont Blue Top 10 Portraits of 2022

Happy New Year!!!! 🎊


As I reflect towards the end of 2022, I recognize that I have made significant strides from being a business owner for the last couple of years. Being a photographer is no easy task as every client, every concept, and every story you capture through your lens is unique. Last year I felt a range of emotions regarding my photography journey. I’m still impacted from the 2020 pandemic to tell you the truth. The game has changed in so many ways and I released the expectation of always trying achieve perfection; it isn’t real. I want to capture quality work and get paid for it. I’m still learning, growing, and continuing to tackle obstacles behind the scenes. That’s exactly where my mindset is at right now. Overcoming one obstacle after another, one day at a time.


This year, I accomplished a couple of things that I’m so proud of. Two online articles featured my business and I couldn’t be happier about my work being seen more broadly to diverse audiences. Check them out below:


Voyage Michigan:


Michigan Chronicle:


I’ve had the opportunity to network with people of color in my local community and through them I learned more resources and opportunities to take advantage of. I even completed a program dedicated to Social Entrepreneurship, something that I had no idea existed or was even possible as an “ethical, service oriented ” business owner. I even hosted a Q & A in Detroit with a US Veteran LA photographer for the premiere of his 10 year long photobook collection. Most importantly, I recognized my talents and creative “style” as to what makes me standout amongst other photographers in this industry. We may never know where our path will take us, but we must persist throughout it all. Persist, resist, and do what works best for you. That’s one of the reasons why my company slogan is “Be you, stay true, Piedmont Blue.”


Here are my Top 10 Portraits I’ve captured from the year 2022.



Tahne’ English | The Starter Pack


I love not only capturing people at their best, but I love when people start their journeys as entrepreneurs! Tahne’ hit me up early in the year to capture some portraits for her new business venture. A beautiful environment to showcase who you are to the world is one you need for a new business, and of course I'm available to make your dreams a reality.



A Birthday Portrait | My 27th Birthday Balloons

There’s nothing like getting dressed up for a day and making sure you look good for the camera. Behind or in front of the camera, you know I’m coming crispy. Special thanks to my bro for helping me capture this setup in my studio perfectly! Did I mention that physically blowing up those balloons and organizing them had me TIRED?!? Yeah I’m definitely going to leave that job to the professionals!

Ryan Scriven | The Grad Pack


I loved the way I capture graduation shoots. Timeless. Almost effortless but still very intentional. I had to contact my alma mater to get access into the field. I knew having access to the football field would be worth it, and with the few moments we did have, I was able to capture the right shot. Ryan is a good bro of mines from my undergrad and I’m proud of him for graduating and getting another step closer to his dream working within sports. Give it a few years and he will probably replace Stephen A. Smith. Watch out now.



There's Beauty in the Air: Original Piedmont Blue Concept

Makeup Artist IG: @bluntdanae


This year I wanted to challenge my creativity and work on concepts that haven’t tried yet. I met Sam at a networking event in 2021 and we always stayed in contact after our previous shoots together. What made this collaboration better was working with a dedicated, skillful makeup artist who knew what colors would fit on an African American/Jamaican model and knew exactly how to change up looks on the fly. I couldn’t be any more happier with my collabs for 2022. Not only do I love the vivid colors captured in scene, but I loved how many of my portraits from this shoot can tell a story just from the first glance. Thank you Sam and India.



DJnetta Williams | The Starter Pack/The Grad Pack/Studio Portrait Pack


There’s a saying that many photographers will never remember your name but they will remember your face. While that is somewhat true, ever since the notification from my consult form popped up in my email, I never forgot the name of my previous middle school colleague, now client, DJnetta Williams. With a name like that you can’t forget it! We had an amazing time shooting portraits in studio for her business revamp and graduation pictures. Best of luck to all entrepreneurs who need a new headshot, because it’s worth every penny.



The Song Foundation- (Dug Song) | The Starter Pack


I enjoyed my time working with the Song Foundation last November. I was hired by another colleague through networking with the Association of Businesses of Color. The power of networking will take you places, just as long as you remain humble, and committed to your personal values. I loved this portrait with Dug and his dog in particular because who wouldn’t want a picture with a furry friend?



Just Skate: Original Piedmont Blue Concept


Kazoni (Zone) was one of the actors on set I met while filming a local Detroit film and I reached back out to him to see if he was interested in modeling this concept. We talked about a couple of ideas back and forth and we landed across this idea of reliving childhoods and growing up from both our perspective cultures. Through this shoot I was able to really get a better understanding of how I shoot on the field and edit photos in post-production. The way I shoot and edit is like no other. Not only was I focusing on using this specific lens during the shoot but I was also able to add a bit of flare and excitement to the shoot. Gotta love those SMOKE BOMBS BABY!



Sam Redefined | Original Piedmont Blue Concept


You can’t miss an afro this big. This shoot was captured back in 2021 for the Black History Month concept we collaborated on. There are dry periods as a photographer where the emails slow down, and the phone isn’t ringing with new clients. So what do you do? You look at old work and see what could be changed. Even thought this was shot the year prior, I learned a lot about color theory and how meaningful each color represents and what type of emotions they describe. (separate from a model's disposition). Look at what I was able to changed up and make anew.



Kajuan Smith | The Grad Pack


Some people have all the luck ya’ know? I love this portrait of one of my mentees and I’m so proud of his accomplishment from graduating from Eastern Michigan University. 8 long years studying in school part time while also working part-time and staying discipline in your goals is no easy task. Moving miles away from friends and family, and staying committed to those goals is not something everyone has done, but Kajuan has done it. I feel empowered to know that Kajuan went from my quiet mentee, to a well spoken, smart brother confident of the path he is making for his better future. Luck would have it that we captured these on the warmest day in Michigan, (November I might add), when it was supposed to be well below 30 degrees normally. That’s what make these photoshoot moments special.



Logan Taylor | The Starter Pack


One of my longtime clients, and colleague from EMU asked me to do a really huge favor for her. She wanted me to take her maternity photos! From the style of the couple’s outfits to the perfect timing of the poised shots, I loved almost all of the portraits from her maternity shoot! By far working with repeat clients is the best because you see their growth being more comfortable on camera and its that same positive energy that keeps me going to better lengths to get that right shot. Maternity Moments are special and I'm happy to know baby Erza is was welcomed this year to a truly beautiful family I’m cheating here so both of these photos made the cut this year for the top 10 list.



Into the Void | Original Piedmont Blue Concept

Makeup Artist IG: @bluntdanae


When researching this idea, I thought, there’s no way I could actually make this happen. A runway look on a model but for stills? Nah. But with experimentation, confidence, and trust our own individual abilities and this collaboration became successful once again. I don’t work with glitter, I actually hate it. But when editing it made some things easier to stand out and be bold on the model. Every photo you capture should be daring, it should make your eyes wander but also come to a conclusion. This is one of my best photos of the year because of the switch up. Taking strategic risks and seeing where it will take you will pay off in the end. Even today I’m still at awe of what we created in the studio. This is how you stand out from the crowd. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Beauty is UNIQUE.


 

BONUS!

This year, I offered two scholarships equal to a free graduation shoot for any 2022 high school or college graduate. (I didn’t have any applicants that applied), however despite this setback I was able to work on an article series I worked on before on The Blue Blog. #TRUEMUpdates was created to help undergraduate, graduates, and other audiences see the reality of what happens after college through real interviews with some of my past clients. This is something that I love doing not only does it help me keep in contact with those previous clients but everyone’s journey is different when they graduate college and that experience should be shared broadly online. Through my interviews with both Breland and Kayla we were able to talk more about politics, student loans and also their own opinions post grad. Check out their articles on my website if you haven't already.


Here are the best two photos from their shoot:



BONUS!!!! THIS THE LAST ONE I PROMISE!



I could not end the year off by not recognizing someone who has supported me during my undergraduate years when I was a Junior at EMU. I had my own humble beginnings and I really appreciate when people work hard to make an impact on those that are less privileged than them. Getting to know more people within in the Ypsilanti community through programs and initiatives, with my mentors help I was able to succeed in college that made me grateful to not worry financially about the cost of books, supplies, and other misc funds. I had the opportunity to capture senior portraits for my mentor’s daughter and she did amazing on her senior portraits back in October. The kindness we genuinely have ingrained in us will pass on to future generations. This hoodie with Tupac on it pays homage to a close friend of Psalmist, who shared and gave space to her friend during her special moment. Stories like these are everywhere it just depends on who you talk with and who you stay connected with in this lifetime. It's really full circle.

-ET



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