We Are The City was able to catch up with one of Saint Louis' local photographers, Travis Crosby. I'm sure, whether you know it or not, some of you have already been exposed to his work through either We Are The City (Zen & The Art Of B-Boying) or through social networking sites like facebook where many use his photos as their profile pictures. Not to mention his work filming the music videos of several Saint Louis artist's such as Tef Poe, William H, Indiana Rome, and Family Affair. With that being said, we sought Travis out for this interview to let him tell us where he's from, where he is at, and where he is going.
Are you Saint Louis born and raised?
“Yea, I grew up in the city of South Saint Louis. I play a little joke with some of the folks on “FaceBookLand” by stating that I was born in New York City. That’s mainly because it has truly inspired me and the things that I create. The two times that I did visit was great and I hope to make it a continuous vacation/work location.”
How did you first get exposed to photography?
“Well, I have always been a visual person. Like a lot of creative’s, I was pretty decent in most visual art classes. In college I always had an interest in my marketing and advertising courses because of the way you could manipulate the publics mind by the imagery you show them through various media. Combine all of that with my music [guerrilla] marketing background and a “knack” for the appreciation for urban culture; I became a “concrete shutterbug” in the making. For the most part, I became exposed to photography from hours of studying the pages of Vibe, Source, XXL, and even CD artwork. Photographers were creating images in New York and LA that no one here was doing, so it really peaked my interest to capitalize on that niche locally.”
"Corey" + "Byron B."
What things have influenced you in your photography/artwork?
"The urban culture in general. Within that, I would have to say the Hip-Hop culture and the imagery that has emerged from it. Seeing images of Method Man blowing clouds of weed smoke or watching Aaliyah being “sporty-sexy” in Tommy Hilfiger jeans are just timeless in my eyes. Most photographers back in the day captured those same images with Polaroid’s or cheap disposable cameras.
The shots were classic because of the personality of the individual in the photo and not all of the fancy equipment folks try to use now-a-days.
You can’t Photoshop a person’s expressions and behaviors. I try to do the same in my work. I don’t use very much equipment and I expect the person I’m shooting to bring their personality."
Do you seek your subjects out? Or do they seek you out?
"I take subjects/clients who reach out to me. Believe it or not, I’m still somewhat new to the aesthetic, but I know what I want to come out of it. I am very passionate about my work and the type of images I try to create [photo or video]. I mainly focus on the creative/artistic side of photography. I do enough editing to enhance the photo and not destroy it. I am also trying to stay in a strict lane where I focus on the urban artistic side rather than the “weddings”, “club”, “nature”, etc. type of photography. I feel that I’m capable of handling those type of task, but I try to keep my focus on things that I am passionate about."
Is there any criteria or special things that you look for when evaluating a candidate?
"If I do seek out a subject to use, I do so because I see something about them that triggers a thought in my head that causes me to want to create a specific image. In actuality I would love to shoot a lot of people I have meet or seen but I can’t. I say this because with [digital] photography, the possibilities are endless! So at times I try and focus and seek out people or things who/that can give me the image I want in a few shots. I have an issue with just taking a bunch of random shots and a majority of them not even striking a nerve with me, and on top of that, taking so many shots that I never get around to editing some or even showcasing them. Overall, with whomever I work with, I want personalities! Some people want you to direct them like moving the arms and legs on a mannequin. I’m looking to work with those who can bring life and even sound to my pictures."
"Amy" + "Shalece"
What is your thought process when it comes to arriving at how you want to photograph a subject?
“It may seem a bit selfish but I attack each “subject” with the mindset of “How will these images benefit me..” I say it that way because a photograph is similar to creating a piece of art. My art is a representation of me. So I create the concept based on my vision and when this work of art is presented I want folks to know it was me.
I take pride in NOT being a traditional photographer who will shoot anything, anytime, anywhere.
I like to be in some type of control at my shoots. The other big thing for me is presentation. I’m big on this because this is what draws folks into the type of style I have. I place pictures in pictures to give the viewer an extra second to see the story of what’s going on in the photo. It’s nothing new in photography to do, but it’s a great way to capitalize the time someone is looking at your work.”
As of recent, I’ve noticed that you’ve switched to showcasing your video projects. How long have you been doing video work?
“Well similar to photography, I tripped and fell into video by total accident. It’s also similar in the sense that no one locally was capitalizing on capturing the “personalities of these” individuals. So, with my passion for still photography it was only right I give video a try. My first music video with “Family Affair” [Sunshine] was almost like an opportunity from the creative gods. I had done some personal documentary work to get my feet wet, but once “Rep” and “QB” called me I just had to jump on the opportunity! All of the odds were against me for that video too. It was well over 80 degrees. It was just me and Nikon D90 [which overheated a few times]. Their aunt had just passed so their whole family was in town, and I hadn’t had any training on how to shoot a music video! Overall it turned out well. I was so excited to edit the footage once I got home; 3 hours later I called “QB” and told him that I was done with the first draft."
"Carly" + "Family Affair"
Do you prefer one form of media over the other?
“That’s a great question at this point because I am about to put more of my focus back into photography. I grew into each medium extremely fast and I don’t want to stray away from what I got started in. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I may be going back to school to take a few courses in photography. Now-a-days Internet video is so powerful and as the creative director, you have the ability to capture the audience based off of your interpretation of what was recorded. On the other side, depending on the type of video, it is extremely tedious and time consuming. I’ve gotten better with focusing on creating treatments that makes it easier for me on the editing side. Photos are great because you can enhance the reality of a solid motionless image and give viewers a different perception on your vision.”
"A.I." + "Aziza"
What are your plans for your future projects?
“Well personally I really would like to solidify my self as a true “photographer”, but
one of my current hurdles is doing the work I want rather than doing what every one else wants.
It’s hard in this city because those who are open to shoot pictures for any occasion, receive more notoriety than some one like me who takes time to design each piece of work that I put out. I would also like to print out some more of my work [photos] and try presenting them different showcases in the city to get my name out there. I always get request to do videos and random photo jobs, but I would like to continue to document my vision and get folks familiar with my style."
What does the term “We are the city” mean to you? What direction would you like the site to go?
"The term is pretty relevant and straight to the point for any progressive individual in the city they reside in. Even though New York was a heavy influence in what I do, Saint Louis is where I grew up and have no major plans on creating a new home base. I would love to constantly be on the move and travel to other markets. Just as hard as a person may claim to be from a certain “city”, they should do the same to give back. It doesn’t necessarily have to be philanthropic but contributing to its growth in some way. Kanye [West] and [Young] Jeezy stated it best by chanting “I put on for my city”, and I truly feel I’ve done and continue to do that. My goal was to create imagery that was NOT being showcased here before and I feel that my mission is continually being accomplished."
"The site has great intentions and a great mission. Being current, always adding information and constantly focusing on true talent is the key to surviving this digital world. If all that is held to the highest standard then it’s already going in the right direction."
Now that you are hip to the man behind the photos be sure to check out his work in its entirety via the links below and also to check out what's dropping next...
Websites: http://www.traviscrosby.com/ / www.twitter.com/grandtheftnegro / http://www.grandtheftnegro.tumblr.com/ /
Written By DJ KASE ONE for WE ARE THE CITY