OMG...SHEisDOPE: Symone Seven
Symone Seven might be new to the world of photography, but by looking at her work you wouldn't even know it. On top of only being 21 years-old and having a bright future ahead of her, she's multi-talented. Before shooting celebrities and fashion shows, Symone was a journalist in Tampa Bay and has written for newspapers and blogs. But it doesn't end there.
Although the signs were present, Symone fought the urge to become a photographer because she always thought of herself as a writer. Even though she's received many compliments on photos she took with her starter camera, she still wouldn't give into the photography force.
Now accepting change and her talent, Symone enters the world of photography boldly and loudly with the help of her creative props and editing skills. Her work can be seen in Bonheur Magazine, Kontrol Magazine, Rebel Lifestyle Magazine, Pink Gang Magazine and MOT Magazine. Having a past in modeling, you might catch her on a runway or even applying makeup to models. But, that's not it. Ms. Seven will be starting real estate school this year too. So, if you're in the market for a new house, she can help you find one and do a family shoot, too. How dope?!
Recently Symone has worked with DJ Luke Nasty, Leah Gordon, Keenyah Hill from ANTM cycle 4, Mimi Faust from LHHATL and Tyon Christian. Although she prefers to be behind the lens, her dopeness shines whether she's in the spotlight or not.
Q&A w/ Symone Seven
Being a self-made photographer, what are your biggest challenges?
Embracing myself as a photographer was and still is my biggest challenge. I come from a writing background of great success with a strong foundation. I’ve been building since I was six-years-old. I was involved in the "Journeys in Journalism" program from elementary to high school graduation and that opened major doors for me. I was well-known in the Tampa Bay Area as a young voice, writing for dozens of newspapers including being the youngest staff writer at 14 on the payroll at Tampa Bay Times. I had every opportunity to be professionally trained in photography but I ran from it. I held tightly to the label of being a writer, given to me as a child. It was my identity. I did not want to challenge my normal because I wasn’t open to the idea of starting over or expanding my identity. But life has greatly humbled me. I’m mature enough now to embrace change. I love being a student of the game. Photography has been so instrumental in my growth as a human being. It taught me how to get over myself. Every day, I’m challenging myself for who I truly am and who I can be.
Who would you love to work with this year?
My goal is to get into commercial photography and fashion/beauty editorials. I would love to partner with modeling agencies in Atlanta like Click Models, Next Models, Salt Models, etc. I want to shoot REAL fashion models! I’m obsessed with women of color who are gingers so models like Madelynne Ross and Jamillah McWhorter are on the top of my list!
How do you stay motivated?
I keep it 1,000 with myself. I am building a relationship with myself based on honesty, forgiveness and unconditional love. I don’t set myself up to fail with unrealistic expectations followed by the shame of not doing it. I try to do my best to forgive myself when I don’t. That motivates me because I’m able to feel more supported to strive without fear of failure.
Fall or Summer? 🍂🌞
Summer. I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida where it’s palm trees lining the streets, beaches enveloping the city, and the sun is always shining. It’s basically one-side away from being an island since Pinellas County is a peninsula on a peninsula. I had to adjust to living in Atlanta and actually having seasons!
Many of your photos seem to be inspired by nature. What inspires you?
Color is actually the driving force of my work. I learned how to color the world around me through photoshop which was symbolic in how I was intentionally changing my life. I edited my photos and created looks based on color combos I imagined.
What was it like working with Keenyah from ANTM?
It was one of those things that was just meant to be. I saw on Instagram that she lived in Atlanta, a couple months before I made contact. I was too new at photography and I didn’t have the resources to make it happen. So I waited...I sharpened my skillset and made the right contacts until I had my team together. Once I did, I slid in her DMs about shooting with the quickness! She was sooo sweet and humble. We had the shoot planned in about 15 minutes. I had my stylist Coco Deloach, my fashion designer friend, Keji, of KOJ designs to pull from, and my hairstylist Bri, and we made it happen! Her makeup artist didn’t show, but I also do makeup and I know how to snatch a face when need be! It was a beautiful experience. Solange’s soulful sounds filled my apartment as we got ready. We headed to a local waterfall in the last amazing weather days of Atlanta’s autumn. We were in such a flow that we shot three looks in less than an hour! That’s what happens when the right talents come together. I still have a great relationship with her too. I interviewed her on the red carpet at her first model workshop “Find Your Light” back in December 2017.
Which superhero would you be and why?
My mom because she’s literally my heart in human form. She shows me everyday what it means to be a woman of integrity. She works hard and loves unconditionally. But she doesn't take any mess either!
So far, what has been your favorite shoot?
My very first shoot I did with my own studio lighting setup in November. The photos are some of my best work ever but it was the experience that made it so sentimental. I was in my hometown, collaborating with makeup artist, Keosha Parris, who was my first MUA I worked with during my first month doing photography! (January 2017) I was also partnering with celebrity photographer, Byron Herring, who is an OG! Our model Vicari was an agency model I met at the very beginning of my career in front of a beauty supply store. Plus, my first photography mentor Byron Boykins, who spotted my photo talent before I even considered it, taught me how to work my lights before the shoot and assisted me. It was such a full circle moment! It showed me how much human connections make life meaningful.
What’s your creative process when deciding location or props for shoots?
It varies. If it’s a client, I go by their needs and I pull from my vault of reference photos and locations for them to choose from. For my Instagram self-portraits, it’s very spontaneous. I pick a day to shoot then create on the spot. Often times, I go to Dollar Tree or a beauty supply store and make magic from there (with a little bit of hot glue). For my collab shoots with a team, we decide on an idea and I use Pinterest boards to communicate how we can best execute it.
What do you say to those who feel that photography isn’t a career? 📸
I honestly don’t do it for the approval of people. Photography wasn’t something I saw for myself ever. I was called by God to get into this industry. He’s been fighting my battles, providing for me and clearing my path. This is my ministry pleasing in His sight. What man has to say is none of my concern.
What was it like walking in your first fashion show? Would you do it again?
It was a super chill experience. It was for the first designer I ever shot in a fashion show (who I met at the First Class Vodka shoot)...another full circle moment. It was empowering to be among such beautiful, black creatives. I went to a modeling school as a teenager so I can model, I just don’t like to. But just because I don’t, doesn’t mean I can’t! I hope to get out my comfort zone and model more in the future.
How did the First Class Vodka ad come about?
Funny story. I did a shoot with a model named Delisa and I had to give her a ride. The shoot was great and after we were craving chicken wings. She called another photographer who knew the name of the little corner store that she knew had some bomb wings. He tells her it’s Intown Market and he was shooting for First Class Vodka and told us to come through. We eat, then go to the shoot. That photographer told me to not even bring my camera out the car since they had been shooting all day and were wrapping up. Long story short, that photographer’s camera dies, and I shoot the tail end of the night with most of my photos being chosen for the campaign. I was so hype! I was only a couple months into photography and was using an old entry-level camera.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see my 26-year-old self with a bed of alfredo pasta in front of me and champagne in hand. There’s an ombré sunset over my head and cobblestone under my feet. I toast to my production team for a great day’s work on our project. Italian Vogue’s editor is on speaker as I make my speech. In this moment, there’s no place in the world I would rather be. In this moment, the only struggle I have is how I’m going to fight back the tears, and be audible over the sound of waves crashing into the Italian coast.