Aviolah Joseph, 21, a young black photographer who resides in New York. With every photo I personally witnessed individuality, beauty, and some type of solid truth. I was able to get her to talk about her art, her views on music today, and more.
When did you realize photography was your niche?
Well, technically it’s not my niche because the term niche is defined as “a comfortable or suitable position in life or employment” right? And art ain’t comfortable and I ain’t employed. This shit is especially uncomfortable when you’re struggling to make it with depression and shit but you shouldn’t be comfortable when making artwork (or in general) because you have to constantly be growing and your vision has to level up and none of this can happen when you’re just chilling.
What are the three basic things you need to become a successful photographer?
One: An eye. It helps to not even know that you have an eye, you’re just letting your literal eyes work and not forcing anything.
Two: An appreciation for the little things, details are so important in photography.
Three: Some kind of camera — nowadays even phones have suitable cameras but you gotta know what to do with it.
Do you believe in the term “Artist’s Eye”? If so, what does it mean to you?
I do, it means a lot to me and that term is super validating [laughs]. When people can recognize my artistic eye it sends me over the moon. I think an artist’s eye is super powerful; You have it or you don’t.
Describe your photography in three words
Is it challenging for you as a black woman in the photography sector?
Are there other setbacks being a photographer ?
Hell yeah, just recently I’ve become super sensitive about my work. I think that also has something to do with depression. I had a few situations where I wasn’t with the bullshit and thought someone was jacking my style, had another situation where I put my work on a public platform and someone gave their unsolicited opinion through a sub. I’m just not here for a lot of fuckshit in the industry and you have to keep your mouth closed and keep grinding and I’m not that kind of bitch. Another big set back is clashing visions with the people I’m photographing. I feel like some models can’t look at a picture past themselves, “Oh I don’t look good” you aren’t the main focus here, sorry you aren’t that important. Look at the big picture, dammit.
Do you come up with the creative direction for every photoshoot that you do? if not, who helps you create such interesting settings?
Is there anyone you look up to as far as photography?
Yes, Renella Ice and Flo Ongala via Instagram. I’ve followed Renella since Tumblr days up until now, I’m her biggest fan I don’t care [laughs]. Flo, I just found her on Instagram recently through a friend, and what’s crazy is I’ve come across these two lovely photographers in person but my social anxiety was like…YOU THOUGHT! Anyways, James Van Der Zee and Gregory Crewdson. Van Zer Dee is a photographer from the 19th century, he used to do what I’m tryna do now-make the hood look good. One of my favorite pics by him is titled “Couple in Racoon Coats” and I had the pleasure of having my work up in a museum right next to his. As for Gregory Crewdson, white men are not shit, especially within art industries BUT this man sets up all of his shoots like a movie set. He goes so hard for one picture and it looks amazing! As I’m leveling up my vision and trying to learn more towards quality over quantity his set production is my biggest inspiration
What did your family have to say about you photography?
It wasn’t until recently that I even showed my work to my mom. I did a valentine’s day shoot recently and had to show it to her, she loved it. Also, we are selling our house and they asked me to photograph the place for our broker, the broker and my parents loved those. So hopefully that answers your question.
Is it easy doing business in New York City?
It should be, I don’t think it is but I’m sure it can be. There’s too many damn people here lol. You gotta have the resources and the social skills. I’ll get there.
What do you enjoy the most about being a photographer?
I got into photography because I love art but I can’t draw to save my life. [I’ve been] Keeping up with photography for over a decade now, I ended up becoming an artist anyway. This shit turned me into an artist anyway and it doesn’t just stop with my work. The way I express my damn self has expanded, bitch I’m rotating seven different wigs right now. They may not all look good but bitch I’m having fun [laughs].
When doing a shoot, what are your three biggest “no-no’s”?
The model should never be waiting on me, giving up on a shoot due to lack of resources/unrealistic expectations, and not letting the model view the photos.
What do you think of the term “art hoe”?
That’s me! Dick + Art, name a better combo [laughs]. Just Kidding, that term changed my life. I don’t know how, but just believe me when I say that it did.
Are you into zodiac signs? If so, what is yours?
Cap sun, Leo moon, Sag Venus, Libra rising and the rest of my chart is like hella Capricorn. I’m Capricorn to the bone.
Do you have any favorite underground artists?
Bruh, everyone I know is an underground artist [laughs]. We just haven’t blown up yet.
How do you feel about today’s upcoming rappers?
Trash. I thought they were being experimental but some of them just do too many drugs and attract fans of their aesthetic and the craftsmanship of their producers. They see rap as an easy way out, an easy way to make some big money and it shows. Where’s your lyricism? My mania inspired me to make some of my own music and it’s better than them. Some of the female rappers trash too, if you’re gonna beef with each other bring it into the booth. Why does no one rap battle anymore!?
What’s your go-to song right now, in this moment?
I listen to this draft of my own song, well two of them. I made a remix to Jaden Smith’s “ICON”, shit’s fire. Janelle Monae’s “Django Jane” that track is inspiring a new song I’m writing– I’m not a rapper tho.
Smoker or Drinker?
I prefer to smoke because liquor is gross but my taste buds are so depressed now they can handle it lmao.
Indica or Sativa?
I’ma keep it real witchu chief…. I stil don’t know the difference between the two without googling. I like to be dead after a blunt tho.
How you feel about plugs that use cashapp?
Use whatever you want bruh, just text me back.
How are you on the gentrification near you? How do you feel about gentrification in general?
I live right near 125th street, if you don’t know that’s a stamp in Harlem– a black area. We now have, not only a Starbucks on Lenox avenue, but a whole foods diagonal from the Starbucks! right after they just completely took down Lenox Longue and didn’t even try to renovate it or do anything to preserve Harlem’s history.
Fuck twelve or blue lives matter?
Blue lives don’t exist. Who are these blue people?
Tea or Coffee?
Tea [laughs] that word is ruined for me!
Is it trickin’ if you got it?
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