How did you get into photography/videography
Accidentally. It’s a very unfortunate story with a very great ending, but I’ll keep it brief.
Before I was a photographer I was an artist manager, and before that a teacher. I really wanted to help artists as much as possible by using the skills I already possessed. Photography and videography had been something I was interested in as a child only so far as it would allow me to present my ideas visually. I knew what I usually wanted to see from the director’s side of the lens and it was pretty much just intuition at that point.
One day a musician that I was working with put out a song that fed me instant inspiration for a video. I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like and play out like. I said to him “we’re going to do this video, what do you think of this concept.” And he thought it was great. Only problem was that I didn’t yet have a video capable DSLR. So I went online, purchased a body, lenses, tripod etc. until I had enough to get the video done. About a week before we were going to shoot, I see him post a video for the same song on his facebook, which was shot by someone else. I was furious, dealing with a breach of contract, and I was also about $2000 shorter than I was before I started, so I decided I’d learn how to use the freaking thing. Through all of that somehow I became a photographer.
What did you first use to take photos
I think there’s three answers to this question. The first time one ever takes a photos is a special experience, and as someone who didn’t grow up with smartphones, I can remember my first photos ever were taken on a disposable film camera on a class trip to Washington DC.
The first time I ever took an attempted professional photo was with a camera my mother had let me borrow, an Olympus E-40
I took my first truly professional photos on a Sony A77, a camera that I’ve stayed with since then.
Where did you go to school. Do you have any formal raining/Self taught?
I went to school in many different places. The tail end of my education was completed in both public and private schools, and I went into university studies at Hunter College, majoring in French and Spanish back when I thought I wanted to be a teacher.
I don’t have any formal training, but I’m also far from self-taught, or rather I don’t like the phrase. Every youtube video I’ve watched has been made by someone who effectively worked as my teacher, and their influences have made me who I am today.
Do you have any nicknames? How did you get that name?
Aside from the embarrassing family nicknames everyone has, I often remark that Yasin (my birthname) is actually my professional nickname, since people pronounce it in correctly. Typically people pronounce my name “Yah-sin,” but it’s actually pronounced “Yah-seen.” I stopped correcting people and just began considering it a work moniker. Recently Frank Knight has resorted to calling me “budget guy,” the idea behind that being that I’m always the person to look for when you want to shoot a great video/photo on a very slim budget.
If you could take photos of any 3 people who would it be?
I actually don’t really have any celebrities or people of that caliber who appear interesting enough for me to want to shoot. The one exception might be Janelle Monae in the early stages of her career, as I really would’ve liked to apply a Salvador Dali-esque approach to her black and white get ups.
Kola Rai and Rakoon are two individuals who have still never sat down in my studio and I’d really like to finagle that one day. Sadly that’s not 100% in my control.
If you could take photos of any 3 people who are no longer living who would it be?
This is a much easier question since all of the greatest people are dead! Prince would definitely have been a favorite for me. I’m amazed by his presence, the mere idea of him was larger than life for me as a kid. Audrey Hepburn is another person who comes to mind. She reminds me facially of Ariana Grande actually…but her ability to be an icon is in truth what entices me more. Her whole persona exuded true celebrity.
The final one is a tie between Yasuke, the only known African Samurai to serve the emperor Oda Nobunaga and Toussaint L’ouverture, the liberator of Haiti in his prime.
If you could take photos in any 3 cities what would they be?
I’ve got two thirds of them down already and It’s undoubtedly still: New York, Paris and Tokyo. Tokyo is the only one I haven’t hit yet. It’s cliché as hell but the reality is that hundreds of thousands of photographers have been shooting in these cities for years and never do I ever think to myself “eh, we might be running out of ideas here.”
What is your goal when you capture photos of someone?
Hard to say. It really is different every time. Sometimes you want to capture their essence, sometimes you want to illustrate them as larger than life, or tell a complex story. The only thing that is consistent at all times is that I want to make my clients happy. I’m a service before I’m anything else.
What music do you listen to when you edit photos?
The same thing I listen to whenever I’m doing work that doesn’t require the whole of my creative mind: 24/7 chill hop radio on Youtube. You can never go wrong with that.
In the likely event that the chill hop starts putting me to sleep, Jazz is normally my alternative.
What is your favorite app on your phone?
Tie between Keepsafe and Textra. Keepsafe lets you keep all of you incriminating material in a separate password locked gallery completely isolated from the rest of your phone. Textra is just a messaging app. But it has an amazing function which is the ability to schedule text messages. Saves me a lot of effort with regards to having to remember to message people.
What is your dream as a photographer?
My dream is to just reach the point where my budgets are a non-issue. I’m always in this constant battle of having art that I want to create but not enough staff/equipment/time etc. to finish the job. I hate that finance still continue to be a limit (although not a huge one) when it comes to my ability to express myself.
What is some advice you would give to someone looking to be a photographer/Videographer
Learn! Really learn. Even if you have a great eye, you don’t know everything. Go out, be inspired, you are not an island. Let the work of others influence you just as much as you influence others.
Where can people find you?
Head over to www.yfmphoto.com and the links will handle themselves from there! It’s the best way to let my work really speak for itself.