My Interview with Photographer Ajani Truth

December 16, 2009 at 3:24 am (Uncategorized)

Point, click, point, click again. If that is all you think there is to the art of photography, you are highly mistaken.  One click of the camera has to capture the light, the essence of the surrounding environment, and the emotion and soul of the subject. One click of the camera has to grasp the scene so very eloquently that anyone viewing the reproduction feels as thou they are in the moment in which the picture was taken.

Ajani Truth, a Maryland native now residing in Arlington, VA, understands all the underlying details behind pointing and clicking. He just decided to pick up a camera one day and began shooting birds and flowers, or “stuff that can’t complain” as he humorously puts it.

What type of camera do you use?
I use a Nikon D300. I learned from my days doing music production that it wasn’t so much about the equipment, but the creativity. So when this camera can no longer technically do what I want then I will upgrade. I started with a Nikon D60 – the camera that Ashton Kutcher was running around with in the Nikon commercials.

Other than your camera, what’s your favorite photography accessory?
I would say the beauty dish, being that I do a lot of beauty work for makeup artists [and] companies.  The beauty dish is hard light that creates a real sharp, contrasting look. Plus, with beauty work, that beauty dish can help reveal fine details…I pretty much love anything that can help me modify the light.


How do you find the subjects for your photo shoots?
Early on, I found most of my models on Model Mayhem (Model Mayhem is a networking site for models, stylists, photographers, makeup artists, and Photoshop experts) but lately I have been contacting various agencies in the DC, Baltimore, Richmond, and New York areas. I’ve actually found several exceptional agency models on Craigslist, [but it] can be a little amusing sometimes because people don’t read the castings so I end up having males responding to female ads, half-naked photos, and just terrible images. It’s like an online American Idol! I sort of love it for that reason.
What inspires your work?
I’m inspired by so many things. People hate the rain and the clouds, but I love it! It puts me into a “Europe” mindset, especially when I couple it with my second inspiration, music such as Telepopmusik or Thievery Corporation.

Is there any picture that you are particularly proud of?
There is a picture from a test shoot with a model from Wilhelmina that I love. One of my favorite makeup artist and hairstylist Demetress Valentine put the look together. The colorful piece came from a designer named Tia Gugliotta who has done costume designing and wardrobe coordination for starts like Marilyn Manson, Shania Twain, Janet Jackson, and the Backstreet Boys.
The way Demetress Valentine matched the makeup with the colors in the piece…was amazing. The hair was a 6 ft. ponytail that was wrapped around the model’s head. The executing on our side and the models expression just hits the mark.

Ajani describes his shooting style as ever-changing.
I’ve always liked shadows. My style is getting more dramatic, more edgy. I also like contrast. Forget a pretty model in a pretty setting. Let’s go with a pretty model in a grungy background, like an alley.
What’s something you’re still learning about photography?
On the fashion side, I’m still learning how to create those intriguing storyboards for editorials. I really want to create more fashion stories. Another thing is that I want to create some more interesting effects in the camera as opposed to [creating them] in Photoshop. The main thing that I’m still learning is that my photography style and skills are still growing. That keeps me motivated.
Photoshop is sometimes a photographer’s ace in the hole. It cleans up the image. You can adjust everything from the lighting, the makeup, the models features (skin, hair, eyes) and even her weight! However, agencies sometimes prefer to see an image raw, or pre-Photoshop. It can really display the skill of the photographer.

 Describe the last project you worked on?
My last project was a shoot for Lux Hair Extensions…I had a chance to shoot with a few models that I’ve wanted to work with for a while…It was fun.

What photographer inspires you?
I’m truly inspired by people that seem real to me. Local people such as Roy Cox for his lighting ability and just creating fashion images in a place like Baltimore where people say fashion doesn’t exist. David Leslie Anthony…has that raw edginess that I love. Going back a bit, [I also like] Helmut Newton just because it’s raw, sexual energy but still classy and still fashion. Last but not least…I would have to say Gordon Parks. Parks was able to embody what I envision for myself. He did portraits of amazing things dealing with race and socioeconomics but also did fashion. I have a desire to create those portraits that people see and remember for decades.
Some people that Ajani would jump at the chance to shoot are music artist/actor Mos Def, political prisioner/activist Mumia Abu Jamal, Lady GaGa and Rihanna. He is intrigued by interesting people across all genres and professions.  He feels that when you shoot a portrait of a person, you build a relationship with them and get to understand them on another level (which may be different than what you see in movies, music videos, etc.).

It’s no surprise that Ajani describes himself as the “Truth,” and that is just what his photos embody: moments in time captured just as they are, in all their splendor, emotion, and beauty.


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