• Capturing Joy + Style with Photographer Vonecia Carswell

Capturing Joy + Style with Photographer Vonecia Carswell

Jan 08, 2021 WOMEN
Check out how this creative finds inspiration in day-to-day life
New York City-based photographer Vonecia Carswell knows a good shot when she sees one, but also takes her work a step further to find the in-between moments. It’s this kind of mindfulness and presence that keeps her going and motivates her to document not just her subjects, but what’s really at their core. We caught up with her to learn more about what goes on behind the lens, how she braves the cold during a long day of shooting, and her current project: a documentary, “Yes, I’m the Photographer,” that explores women photographers and equality within the industry.

Read more about her below and check out some of her work.

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How did you get started? Have you always been a full-time photographer?

My passion for photography was sparked by my grandparents when I was a young child, and I’ve been pursuing it since. They had a habit of documenting my family as we grew up, so I naturally gravitated toward it. To this day, I strive to emulate the warmth and joy I experienced while documenting my family in my work.

I didn't always know that I wanted to be a photographer professionally, though. It was a gradual discovery. I pursued journalism in high school and college, which granted me the opportunity to get more familiar with the technicalities of photography. After moving to New York after college, while working various jobs, I sought out opportunities to shoot at local fashions shows, events, and with models on the side, which helped me create a stronger portfolio and grow my network for my photography career.

Photography had always been an important part of my life, and I started telling people it was my second full-time job, even though it wasn’t my main source of income, because I invested in it and took it just as seriously as anything else. I had the opportunity to transition from my 9-to-5 job earlier this year though!

How has this year shaped your creative process?

This year has allowed me to expand on my creative process. I’ve had more time on my hands to direct my own work, experience wearing multiple hats, and become more intentional about the projects I take on. I also began photographing myself more, which created a deeper relationship between myself and the art of photography.

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What’s the most memorable event you’ve captured in a photo?

There are so many! But one of the most memorable events I've photographed was Twitter’s Wall for a Cause event featuring Tarana Burke, creator of the Me Too movement. Wall for a Cause is a rotating art exhibit dedicated to highlighting social causes. I really enjoyed photographing Tarana's reaction to the exhibit and the interactions among participants. I pride myself on capturing joy and the in-between moments.

During a long day of shooting, what keeps you comfortable?

Comfortable clothing and shoes for sure. I also need to start the day with a hearty breakfast, and having music I can groove to is the icing on the cake!

Which media channels do you look to for inspiration?

I get a lot of inspiration from social media platforms. I frequent Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest. They offer a beautiful mesh of art and different perspectives, and I love that I’m able to interact with others on social media almost in real-time, especially since people are at the core of the work I do. But day-to-day life inspires me in general. It could be something I read, a lyric I heard, something I saw during my commute, or a conversation that I’m having with a friend. I try to be open-minded about where I draw inspiration from. I just make sure to keep my purpose in mind.

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What are your must-haves from UNIQLO? Especially in colder weather!

My must-haves are the turtleneck sweater and the Ultra Light Down Jacket. The turtlenecks are super comfy and chic, and give me that extra little coverage around the neck that makes a huge difference when braving the cold. And I like to feel like I’m wearing the coat—and it’s not wearing me! The jacket makes me feel light as a feather yet incredibly cozy while I’m on-the-go.

What are you working on these days? Any upcoming projects you want to tease? Where can people find your work?

I am currently working on a documentary called “Yes, I’m the Photographer.” I am exploring the experiences of women photographers and how they’re navigating the industry to inspire more equality. You can learn more at yesimthephotographer.com. My work is at voneciacarswell.com.

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