SHADES OF BLACK
Thursday January 30th, 2014 ( Featured on Wonderful Machine’s artist spotlight section)
by Wonderful Machine’s Liz Ream
Joshua Prezant‘s favorite part of being based in Miami is the diverse pallet of people he has access to. His style is centered around “capturing a moment in time that tells a story and gives a small glimpse into the lives of both the known and unknown.” This being said, he was very excited to get involved with Shades of Black, a gallery opening tomorrow evening at the Little Haiti Cultural Center of Art in Miami that focuses on colorization of the Americas and showcases visual expressions from a diverse group of mixed media artists, painters and photojournalists:
The exhibition takes visitors on a journey through Africa, across the Atlantic, and to the Americas where the life stories and cultural diversity of the people of Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Brazil and Cuba are transformed and absorbed by African New World influences. Jazz legends come alive, sports personalities await to be crowned and attendees encounter the complexities, richness and triumphs of the “Black Experience.”
Joshua is one of the featured artists, in the good company of Herman Leonard, Jim Morin, Patrick Farrell and many more. Below, he tells the stories behind some of the photos that are to be displayed at the gallery.
American Heritage High school soccer player Miguel DaSilva (top left) poses for a picture at the home of his guardian, Joe Sagarra. DaSilva escaped Angola after his parents were shot in front of him. After making he way to the US, he landed in an Atlanta airport on September 11, 2001. He is one of the best players on his team and is expected to go to college on a full scholarship. Having the privilege to meet and photograph this amazing kid was awe-inspiring for me. He triumphed over the most horrible obstacles that no person, let alone a kid, should have to go through. Often times, as photographers, we are art directed to get serious pictures of a subject. And other times you have a great actor or personality in front of your lens that makes it look and feel real. This was different. His pain, suffering, and triumph was really there. This was the real deal and I only hope that I was able to capture an inkling of what this strong and courageous boy carries on his shoulders every day. My goal was to show his emotional past as well as his future with soccer.
Trick Daddy (top right) is sometimes called the Mayor of Miami. When you think of hip hop/rap and Miami, you first think of 2 Live Crew and then Trick Daddy. He is one of the pioneers that brought the unique Miami sounds and stories to the hip hop masses. And where 2 Live Crew rapped about partying and women, Trick was not afraid to bring the “gangster in his life” to his music. I was assigned by The Source magazine to do a spread of portraits on him. We met at his recording studio/office that he keeps in a rough area of Liberty City just outside of Miami. The guy is a bit intimidating when you first meet him. But he was extremely hospitable and easy to shoot. He was actually playing pool with some guys while we were setting up the next shot when I asked him to stand still while we got some lights in place and then fired a few frames. I love how the beat up walls and torn up pool table contrast with his aviator glasses and bedazzled AK47 shirt.
Flo Rida is truly the most down to earth, genuinely nice guy. You will not find another artist who is this famous and equally laid back. The shoot was assigned by XXL Magazine through Photo Editor Mike Delfin. Having worked with Mike on previous shoots, I was given a ton of latitude to do my own thing and surprise him. The idea was to feature Flo Rida after his album began blowing up the charts. The magazine’s only instruction was to shoot him in his hometown of Miami (Coral City) and not the palm tree-lined and sun-filled beaches. My team and I scouted a few locations ahead of time and nailed everything down. He was very easy to work with. No huge entourage, just him and two buddies. We had figured about an hour for the shoot and ended up shooting for 5 hours at several different locations. He was tremendously gracious with his time and just wonderful to work with. Being from Miami, it makes me proud that he is representing it in such a classy and authentic way.
Missy Elliot is awesome. Five time Grammy Award winning American rapper/hip hop artist, singer-songwriter, and record producer. She’s the only female rapper to have six albums certified platinum by the RIAA, including one double platinum for her 2002 album Under Construction. I got to spend the day with her on the set of a video shoot for one of her artists, Monica. I was there to do portraits of Missy and Monica for InStyle Magazine. It was wonderful to see Missy as both an artist and producer. Throughout the day I observed Missy chewing gum and blowing bubbles the whole time. The gum idea was not on my mind initially. I usually try to go into shoots with some ideas, but I always make sure I can adapt and switch gears to whatever the subject or environment screams for.
For Jamie Foxx’s portrait, I was on assignment for Entertainment Weekly. Jamie was working on his first record. The idea was to show Jamie the musician, not Jamie the actor. The shoot took place at Circle House Studio in North Miami. It was interesting to see Jamie and his crew work together to formulate lyrics for his songs. It was a wonderfully creative group effort. My assistant and I ended up hanging out the whole evening listening to his record being formulated and tracks laid down. The man is truly a talent.
Shades of Black, Colorization of the Americas opens at 7pm tomorrow night at the Little Haiti Cultural Center of Art at 212 NE 59th Terrace in Miami. For more of Joshua’s work, check out his website.
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