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Many of my post may be filled with typos, ignorant statements, untruths, bad English, & anything else that may make me appear to be uneducated. Please note: all of these things combined make my Blog the perfect one, because you know I have issues & I am not ashamed. With this said; enjoy, fuck mistakes & read between the lines!

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Archive for the 'Only In Detroit' Category

2011 America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Author: Tafari, Friday, November 25th, 2011 at 3:51 PM

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Yesterday, I photographed my biggest one day event yet, The America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade put on by the Parade Company. This year was the 85th anniversary of the parade and allegedly the best weather to date. For that, I am so thankful but it was still cold. My day started at 4am. The Distinguished Clowns breakfast was the first event of the day, which started at 630am. The Parade started at 930am. Television coverage started at 10am. Working with me was Cousin Dee & Dapper George. They covered the other pre-parade events. It was crazy but we got all of the pre-events & met up at the beginning of the parade for the main jump off scattered around downtown Detroit.

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Funny thing is, I have been living in Detroit since 79 & have never been to the parade. Always watched it from the comfort of my home wondering why people would brave the rain & frigid temperatures to see balloons, floats & bands.  Now I know why.  I have already determined that if I am not working the parade next year, I will be there with my kids and a boatload of blankets! Have a look some of what I captured start to finish here. You’re sure to smile. Or be frightened if clowns are not your thing.

Chrysler 300 Sneak Peek

Author: Tafari, Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 at 8:00 PM
Get a sneak peek at the new Chrysler 300 promotional commercial set to air tomorrow on TV tomorrow during the Lions vs. Packers Thanksgiving football game. As you know, I'm not a sports fan but the Lions are really making it happen this year and I cannot deny that. And... I did notice Ndamukong Suh all up in this commercial. Cars, Sports, Poetry, Video.... What a combination.

Then I Hit My Dougie

Author: Tafari, Sunday, November 20th, 2011 at 4:37 PM

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Last Friday, I photographed The Parade Company’s “Hob Nobble Gobble” black tie event. The event always has a host of local & national celebrities that guest have the chance to interact with up close & personal. I’m not usually one who is star struck but this time around, I kind of was because Doug E Fresh was one of the celebrities this year.

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When I saw the celeb line up, I got excited & hoped that he would perform. I believe at the time I saw the line up, it was unknown if he would perform. When he arrived at Ford Field, fans young & old were excited to see him. Everyone was taking about the Dougie. It was fun to watch and listen. Once the entertainment for the evening started, the crowd was surprised with Doug E Fresh rocking the stage. He was hype. Super hype. Between snapshots, I hit my Dougie while maintaining my professional image. I think….

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Funny thing is, Doug E Fresh was not even the headline act but he totally stole the show & offered energy that was not matched for the rest of the evening. I mean, how do you follow up to a hip-hop legend? Well, you don’t. I did have a chance to kick it with him for a bit & I had to let him know that his song “Summertime” is WAY better than Will Smith’s “Summertime.” He just laughed…. I wonder if there was a mini beef behind that? I’m just saying!

Autumn Senior Session: DiShawna Marks

Author: Tafari, Friday, October 14th, 2011 at 12:05 AM

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Last Sunday, was the day that I had that photo session where I whispered all the way through because I had no voice. The session was with DiShawna Marks, a Detroit high school senior for her senior portraits. Aside from my voice issues, the day was perfect! The sun was out but not too bright and there was a nice breeze. Totally a gift from the Michigan weather Gods.

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DiShawna along with her family (I think there were 8 people with us) & I started the session in East Detroit at the Detroit Dry Docks Engine Works complex, which is an awesome gritty space.  She was not afraid of rocking it out in this long abandoned structure so it was on like Donky Kong. We ended at Detroit’s Hart Plaza, which I thought would be perfect because I knew very few people would be there because it was Sunday & no one hangs downtown outside of the summer months…. Well, I was wrong because the place was jumping with activity. It actually was quite beautiful to see people out enjoining themselves.

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Bygbaby.com Mindspill

It was also fun rolling with so many people during the session. It was like DiShawna and I had a posse. And I never mind an audience watching me work. Next time I lose my voice and have a photo session, I’m mos def gonna make some cue cards and have an assistant nearby.  Days later, I am just getting my voice back but that's OK because I have a happy client with some great photos that are sure to make her classmates a bit jealous….

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Talking With No Voice

Author: Tafari, Monday, October 10th, 2011 at 12:46 AM

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Yesterday, I had a senior portrait session downtown Detroit.  Days leading up to the session, I was dreading the worse because I was not sick but something was up with my throat leaving me unable to talk off & on. My voice sounded horrible but I felt no pain. Seems like since I got that flu shot, I've been having all kinds of body drama. I'm just saying. Saturday, I met with friends and at the end of the night, my voice was GONE.  I woke up Sunday & the voice was still GONE but  I was not going to cancel my session because I could not talk! I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through but I was going to make it happen. At the beginning of the session, I let the clients know that I was going to be doing a lot of whispering. It was actually kind of funny. I made it through the session with nothing vocally to spare. I joked on Facebook that I whispered through my photo session like it was a Ying Yang twins video. Yeah, I got jokes! On the way home, I was at a stoplight telling myself that I was not going to talk for the next few days to let my throat rest. Also, while at the light, I noticed this uniquely Detroit liquor store sign. The sign actually made me smile for some unknown reason. Maybe it was the colors. Maybe because the sign was lit but it was in a vacant lot. Anyway, I still cannot talk. Dammit!

Detroit Nomad: Philip Apartments

Author: Tafari, Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at 7:53 PM

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Summer 1979, I remember my momma telling my brother & I that we were leaving our project apartment on Exeter in Bessemer, AL to move with my grandmother, “Mommie” in Detroit. Mommie had moved back to Detroit a year or so prior with most of her younger children but my mom decided to stay to make a life in the south. After the announcement, I only remember my momma selling everything but the kitchen sink from the apartment & her telling us we were taking an airplane to Detroit. My brother and I were afraid to fly because we JUST saw a movie or something about an airplane crashing or catching on fire.  Next thing I know (this is all in a kid’s time frame) we were at the Delta check-in to board a flight. Unfortunately for us, momma was/is a smoker so my brother & I had to endure the smoking section from BHM to ATL to DTW. It sucked & I’m soooo damn happy that the smoking section is a thing of the past. I remember how my brother and I tried to open the airplane window so that we could try to catch clouds in our cups. How silly but we were only 4 (me) & 2 (my bother). When we arrived in Detroit, I was so nervous. It was all new and big. Back then, we caught a jitney/gypsy cab to my grandmother’s apartment building on the west side of Detroit at the corner of Euclid & Wildemere. It was a big building and she lived in a basement apartment. All of my aunts & uncles greeted us and I was so happy. That same day, I met my cousin Connie who was younger and somewhat of a bully. She was scary and top dog for years until I beat her up. Mommie’s apartment was big but with so many people living in it, I’m sure that it was a fire hazard. We would play little games in the front of the building, run up & down the hallways playing tag until we got in trouble. When I turned 5, Mommie would let us all walk across the street to Lloyd’s, which was the neighborhood store (Black Owned). Pickles, penny candy, chocolate, BBQ skins, Now & Laters & Moonshine Faygo pop (wish they still made this flavor). Of course she would have us get her Kool 100s cigarettes. I remember the day that Lloyd’s closed for good when he shot a boy who stole from his store. Shot him DEAD in the alley. I was sitting on the stairs are the apartment building. All the police cars and commotion were scary. A few weeks after Lloyd’s closed, another store opened a few doors down. It was an “A-rab sto.” That’s what everyone called it. I hated going to that store because they were not nice & guys used to hang out in front. No one ever hung out in front of Lloyd’s. I loved living with Mommie and she always fixed the best food, not to mention that my cousins were there. You always had a friend. One day my momma told us that we were moving from Mommie’s to a new place around the corner with some man named James. She met James at that “A-rab sto.” Mommie was not keen on us moving as I recall but that did not matter because days later we moved. Just like that with some random guy who had a good job at a GM factory. The cool thing was that we were still at Mommie’s daily because she babysat us while my momma worked. I have nothing but fond memories of living at the Philip Apartments with Mommie. That building holds a piece of my life heart still. As I write this story, I hear Mommie in my head telling me to “sit my mannish ass down before I get it.” Going to this building back in April of this year was a total heartbreak! As you see in the photo, it is no longer a place filled with families. The surrounding homes look like hell. It was sad seeing so many of the homes just not there. It messed me up to see it. It was such a nice block. What a difference 32 unkind years makes. With the Philip Apartments being my first stop during this series of photos/stories, I drove away feeling hurt. Really hurt. How could this be? Damn. Just damn!

Shooting Megan Pouncy

Author: Tafari, Sunday, September 25th, 2011 at 12:34 PM

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I met Megan Pouncy thanks to a great referral from friend & client Amber Cabral a few months ago. When Megan & I initially talked, she shared her needs for headshots as part of a October 2011 launch for her brand new blog titled Vino Dream geared toward Detroit area wine enthusiast such as her self. Bygbaby.com Mindspill After I told her that I was crazy during my photos sessions and basically a hot mess, we set a date and the rest is history… We started downtown and worked our way to Midtown Detroit, where we stopped traffic, worked through cat calls and a meter maid who was about to go “Parking Wars” on us while we were at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  I’m so happy that there were no cameras around because I may have shown out! Bygbaby.com Mindspill After Megan reviewed her photos, she requested a follow up session that will pick up where we left off with a different look. I’ll take that as a win & another feather in my photo pimp cap. Bygbaby.com Mindspill I swear that I love my job!

Detroit via iPhone

Author: Tafari, Monday, September 5th, 2011 at 8:30 PM

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I'm not sure if you have been able to tell or not but many of the images that I've been posting lately were taken with my iPhone using the Camera+ app. You know I keep singing the praises of the iPhone 4 camera and I'm anxious to see how the camera will improve with the next version, which is rumored to be released next months (Oct 2011). And while the camera on the phone alone is DOPE, the Camera+ iPhone app is DOPEx10. It's super flexible & allows you to do some pretty cool tricks. Here are two images taken of downtown Detroit landmarks done with the iPhone & Camera+. The top image is the Horace Dodge Fountain in Hart Plaza. The bottom image is the Spirit of Detroit statue located at the City County Building or the "Coleman A. Young Municipal Center" if you’re new to Detroit.

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Take Me to the Game

Author: Tafari, Thursday, September 1st, 2011 at 6:25 PM

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Yesterday, I photographed the “Parade Day at the Park” event for The Parade Company at Comerica Park.  This was my 2nd time working this event for TPC, with the first time being last year. Last year was one for the record books because it was soooooo super hot! When my assignment was over, you could wring out my shirt & get a cup of sweat. When I was contacted to work the event again this year, I had heat flashbacks that made me sweat. Parade Day at the Park is very fun as a spectator and from my angle as the photographer. Kids all over the place, face painting, clowns, a marching band, parade floats, beer, baseball etc.

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One of the cooler points of the event is being able to go onto the baseball field to catch the ceremonial 1st pitch. Yesterday, Makayla McCoskey, the reigning America’s Thanksgiving Parade® Queen tossed out the 1st ball on behalf of TDC. I met Makayla last year when I was one of the TDC’s “Princess Scholarship Program” judges. I was very happy when we learned she winner was because Makayla is quite a force in her academics, charity work & volunteerism.

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Some of the perks from winning the Princess Scholarship Program include:
  • Four Court members receive a $250 scholarship
  • The final candidate is named the America’s Thanksgiving Parade® Queen in addition to receiving a $1,000 scholarship
  • The Queen and her Princess Court ride in the America’s Thanksgiving Parade®, (seen nationally in 74.6 million homes)
On a related note, I was asked to come back as a judge again this year for the program. This time, I will be prepared with a little experience under my belt. Anyway, the other fun item from the day was the kids. I think they were kindergartners. I took a photo of one of the kids after his face was painted. Next thing I know, I’m surrounded by kids asking me to take their photo. Do me! Take my picture! Let me see! It was funny.

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After my camera was packed away, I relaxed with friends and enjoyed watching the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals 5 to 4. It was a great nail biting kind of game... And for the record, I am not a sports fan.


On Stage: Rachelle Ferrell

Author: Tafari, Monday, August 22nd, 2011 at 7:21 PM

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One of the VERY 1st CDs that I EVERY purchased was Rachelle Ferrell’s self titled album “Rachelle Ferrell” back in 1992. I purchased the album because I fell in love with her voice on “No Rhyme, No Reason” by George Duke, where she was on background vocals. I was infatuated. The “Rachelle Ferrell” album didn't leave my CD changer for at least a year because it had everything that I needed musically. Many Many Many years later when she released “Individuality,” that CD too never left my changer. Rochelle’s voice is just simply ridiculous and so very easy to love.

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When I saw her in concert in Detroit after the release of “Individuality” I was shocked to see how contorted her face became while she performed. It was CRAZY. But then, I thought about how Al Jarreau makes these same crazy faces. They both have powerful voices so I guess it all makes sense. Fast forward to this weekend and her performance at the 29th African World Festival downtown Detroit….

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Come hell or high water, I was going to see Rachelle Sunday evening. Neither hell nor high water came but I was there to capture Rachelle in all of her glory. She gave a stupendous show that rocked the crowd. It was almost spiritual in a way. Emotional. Powerful. Moving.

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The show was already AWESOME, then Rachelle announced that Anita Baker was in the audience. The crowd erupted with thunderous applause & screaming. Erry-body in Detroit loves Anita Baker. To the audience’s surprise, Anita later joined Rachelle on stage for a song that I believe will be on Rachelle’s yet to be released album. There was no mention when the album would be released, however she she did share that she is partnering with Ledisi, Rahsaan Patterson, Lalah Hathaway & other friends.

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Being able to witness this amazing talent was everything that made my weekend over the top. Being able to photography one of my favorite vocalists is another notch in my belt. Getting it all done with an 85mm f/1.4 Nikkor lens, priceless! To see more outtakes from the performance, visit here.

Detroit Street Stories: Orthneil Rawlins

Author: Tafari, Friday, August 19th, 2011 at 12:43 AM

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It was April 12, 2011 and I was standing at the corner of Euclid & Wildemere taking the first photos in my Detroit Nomad project. After about 2 or 3 photos, I noticed a man approaching me. Before I knew it, he was just a few feet from me, which is when he said (don’t shoot me) as he laughed.  It was clear that he meant not to photograph him. Him? His name? This Man? Orthneil Rawlins... With the ice somewhat broken, he asked me why I was taking photos of the old abandoned apartment building.  I explained to him that it was the 1st place that I lived in when I moved to Detroit in 1979. I also talked a little about the project with him and my goal (which is still formulating). As we talked, I told him how devastated I was to see my old neighborhood in ruins. It was SHOCKING!!!!! I then flipped the focus of the conversation and asked him some questions. I started with asking him how long he lived in the neighborhood to which he answered about 10 years or so. He moved to Detroit from Texas but he didn’t have a southern accent. He sounded a little more exotic. He then told me that he moved to the USA from Barbados way back when. I then asked him what made him move to Detroit from Texas and he went into a story that I was not prepared to hear. His tone changed a little and he started to tell me about his daughter being murdered by some drug dealers many years ago during her senior year of high school. It seems as if she got hooked into the wrong kind of boyfriend that was into drugs. There were some missing drugs at one point & his daughter was confronted by her boyfriend's people one day at home. This confrontation was happening as Mr. Rawlins was on his way home from work. When he approached his home, he heard commotion and his daughter being assaulted and subsequently murdered. While he tried to enter the home, he was shot by one of the assailants through the door in his genitals. At this point, I was all in like it was story hour. Mr. Rawlins was telling the story like a true Griot. He was telling the story as if it was not about him but some other unfortunate man. At the end of the story, he said, "the same day I lost my daughter, I lost my testicles." YIKES! After this incident, his life was forever changed on many levels. He then showed me a photo of his daughter, who was very pretty. We had some more chit chat for several more minutes but I was so distracted by the story & my own thoughts about my project. Before we parted ways, I asked if he would mind if I shot him then and if I could tell his story. When I drove away, I was in a strange zone. I met this random man who suffered two tragedies but making peace with life as I was working to understand my own history and where I am now. I think Mr. Rawlins stepped into my life at the right time to help me think about personal growth, dealing with life as it happens to you & around you. What a way to kick off my project……

Picking Up a Canon

Author: Tafari, Thursday, August 18th, 2011 at 1:40 AM

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Last Sunday, I attended the honeyBOOM launch party, which was held midtown Detroit at the Alley Deck. Initially, I was going to enjoy myself, kick with my girl Ris Tena (owner of honeyBOOM), have a few cocktails and enjoy the fashion show. When I got to the event, I was in such a great mood because I had just taken my last photo in my summer film series project. The DJ was playing my jams! Most importantly, the Captain & Coke was putting me in the zone.  It just seemed like everything was right. Shortly after getting settled in, the fashion show started and all of the sudden, I slipped into photographer mode but all I had was my iPhone. As you know, I love the camera on the iPhone 4 so it was all good.

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As I was getting some images with my iPhone, my homie & Detroit hip hop blogger Marcel F of WhatUpDoe offered me his camera to use instead. My first reaction was like are you serious? I don’t use Canon cameras; YUCK!  My second reaction was, fuck it, give it here, let me rock it out….. As I got my initially images with Marcel’s Canon EOS Rebel T3i equipped with the Canon EF 50mm f 1.8 II lens, I was like oh, this is fun. The features on the camera were just as simple as Nikon bodies,  and the comfort of the grip was nice so my learning curve was all of 5 minutes. From what I saw on the camera’s display, I was impressed with the appearance of the photos so I continued to shoot until it was time for a break and another Captain & Coke. After all, I was there to chill right???

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Lessons learned…. A camera is a camera & as a photographer, I can make an image with anything operable. I’m happy that Marcel was generous enough to trust me with his new camera to get some great shots that I could share with Ris for her new venture. To see a few more outtakes from the event, visit here.

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More on honeyBOOM: honeyBOOM (HNYBM) is a retail boutique & brand specializing in vintage sportswear, along with streetwear, bboy/bgirl gear, jewelry, accessories, art, & custom pieces. Founded by all-around creator, hip-hop aficionado & fashion enthusiast, Ris, also known as Ris Money, Dissris, Ris La Rock, Ris Regal, or just good ol' Christine Tena. honeyBOOM is inspired by the cultural revolutionaries: the bboy & the bgirl. With the style & charisma that breakdancers characterize, they epitomize what it is to be "fresh;" as Bgirl ShaBoogie from Renegades Crew says, "ain't no swag like a bgirl's (bboy's) swag." honeyBOOM brings it back to the foundation with this boutique as a play off old school gear - this is an ode to the hip-hop heyday. --------------------------------- Pictured above in order: Krista Ashley Mcgee, Abigail C. Brown, Anastasia Miller, Star Misskemi, Ris Tena