Black wildlife photographers don’t exist. I’d encourage you to Google it.
I want to change that—while at the same time setting an example for others in my community and worldwide.
Over the course of my career, I've won an assistant grant from the National Geographic Society to work alongside world-class photographers, and I have contributed to two published stories on iconic wildlife in New York: pigeons and rats.
Thanks to a lot of hard work and collaboration, I now have a unique opportunity to travel to Kenya and Tanzania for 16 weeks this year to assist one of my mentors, wildlife photographer Charlie Hamilton James , while he's on assignment.
To put it plainly, this assignment could change the course of my career and inspire others to pursue wildlife photography regardless of who they are and where they were raised.
I'm aiming to fundraise $40,000 to make it to Africa. This would cover all of my travel, food, lodging, and fees within national parks in both Kenya and Tanzania for the entirety of the 16 weeks.
While this amount might seem daunting, I believe I can get there. Just $350 covers one day, $14 covers one hour. Every contribution helps.
As a professional photographer, my camera has taken me far beyond Brooklyn. Working as a photographer led me on my first-ever trip to Europe, to center court at Madison Square Garden, and to partner with a National Geographic veteran. The world looks better to me through a viewfinder.
But it wasn’t until I returned home that I realized my camera could also inspire others.
I was visiting a friend who lives in Manhattan public housing. Like always, I had my camera in my hand. A group of teenagers was hanging out in the plaza, and one teen approached me and asked if I was interested in selling my camera. I stopped, smiled, and told him that this camera had taken me all over the world. He seemed interested, so I told him to buy a used camera and take some photos of his own.
The next evening, I was on my way to visit my friend again when I saw two figures running towards me. As they got closer, I realized one was the same teenager I had met the day before. He unzipped his hoodie and showed me the camera he had bought earlier that day, thanking me for inspiring him to pursue a new dream.
In that moment, something clicked for me. I realized I could help a new generation of underserved youth through the power of photography.
Currently, I serve as a mentor at NYC Salt, a non-profit that creates opportunities in visual arts and pathways to college for underserved New Yorkers. I'm also an assistant teacher at National Geographic Photo Camps, which teaches photography and visual storytelling to young people in underserved communities around the world.
Assisting Charlie isn’t just an opportunity for me to advance my career. More importantly, it’s also a chance for me to share my experience with an even bigger group of deserving young photographers. I hope to serve as an example for young photographers of color that anything is possible.
I plan to share and discuss my experiences in the field, as well as explore how photography is a viable career path for any young person of color, as part of this expedition.
As a token of my appreciation, everyone who donates $50 or more to this campaign will receive an original signed print from the expedition. I’ll be in contact via email to arrange delivery.
Even if you can only donate $1, I deeply appreciate your support. I will keep all backers—regardless of the amount—updated throughout this process.
I have personally invested over $15,000 of my own funds towards this trip on my gear and lodging.