What's your name, and where are you from?
Blaze "BLAZELIKEF¥RE" Edwards.
That's always a tricky question for me. Though I was born in New Orleans and I am NOLA to my core, I've lived in other parts of the world , and have half of my family's in Chicago, and being in those spaces has shaped who I am and how I exist in the world.
How long have you been taking photos?
There's a difference between "taking pictures" and being a Photographer. I take pictures every time someone hands me their phone. I think that that's what annoys our elders about the new generation, before digital you had to know the science of photography or wind up w shitty photos and/or a pissed client. There's more to photography than owning a camera and pressing down the shutter. There are all sorts of formulas going off in my head when I'm shooting, composition, lighting, proper exposure, etc...
I started calling myself a Photographer 6 years ago, I have been shooting Professionally (getting paid) for 8, but I've owned cameras since I was a youth, unfortunately I lost them and some gear in storage, which is why I hate putting my belongings in one.
Is photography your primary medium?
Hmmm... I guess so. I look at Photography as a form of expression. A non-verbal articulation of what is happening around me, in my community. My Photography is a way to show people the world as I see it, and it is so beautiful, even when it's not.
I used to be Lifestyle Writer for a magazine, and they never sent a Photographer out with me, which was fine because my column covered whatever event I found interesting: Golf festivals, concerts, a party of someone influential in community, so I purchased a little point and shoot. Immediately I found myself playing with angles, so I knew that I wanted to buy a more professional camera. After a breakup I did, and took a Greyhound to Austin for Marley Festival to test it out. I still have a couple of those [early] photos.
I remember the first time I know asked if I was a "Photographer", I hesitated with my response. Before I could fully answer, I was being asked to shoot the event I was attending, HeART & Soul, a gig I shot for about 4 years. That became the catalyst for paid gigs, especially in the LGBTQ Community, and then my images said the rest.
In addition to Photography I am Videographer/Cinematographer. In my opinion it seems like a natural progression. I view it as moving images, as the term "Motion Picture" literally means. I can't say that I favor it over Photography, it just allows me to communicate what I see in a different way. I've been told I would make an excellent DP, I'm inclined to agree because it's a very technical, detail oriented position.
What is your favorite medium, technique, or platform for sharing your work?
Currently Instagram is the platform I share on mostly. Idk, it's good for what it is, but I feel like there could exist a platform that could spotlight my and other Photographers' work in a better way. I guess Tumblr could be that thing, but that, like a website will only yield traffic and views if people know to go to it, where people can just stumble across your Instagram through resharing, hashtags, etc..
Is there anything you would like to say about this particular shoot with Yuri?
No. Lol. Well, Yuri is a interesting dude. I am older than he, so it's always interesting to hear what is going to come out of his mouth. Not in a bad way, he's just interesting.
We see one another semi-regularly, so we already have an established rapport which translates on film. Truthfully, Yuri is a beautiful dude, rugged, stylish, and highly melanated. He is also from New Orleans, so whenever we shoot, we always are connected to our locations in a very personal way.
What have you learned lately through producing art?
I've learned several things from producing art.
I've learned where my insecurities lie.
I've also learned that creators are born to create… it's an assignment from the Divine, one I'm learning not to take lightly. I have a social responsibility to show people my work, and ultimately I hope that dig it enough want to own it.
The biggest/most important lesson that I learned is how to work with what I have. I remember looking at the photos of another Photographer in my beginning stages. I liked the photos, and asked what kind of camera he was using, to which I knew to be an entry level camera. It's almost like Jordans to a basketball player, "It gotta be the shoes." He told me, "It doesn't matter the equipment, it's how you use it." That's a sentiment I keep in mind to this day, and also share with others. If you don’t know how to properly use all of the features of the camera, what good is a $1500 body and $1000 lens?
What else are you working on right now?
I am working on completing my first photography series called OuiNola. There is a short that accompanies the project, I need some fundraising to complete and exhibit both.
What inspires you most about New Orleans?
Ummm.. New Orleans is LIIIIIT!! I'm inspired by the city's resilience. They literally tried to drown people, and people came back… that's admirable. The culture is so deep that gentrification can't excavate it, though it's a shame that greed supersedes our elected officials' willingness to protect it. However, to know that my genes are marked with genetic material from warriors from Africa and Natives, that lived, danced, and fought on this fertile land, that alone inspires me to be bold and battle for what I believe in.
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I'm inspired by the city's resilience. They literally tried to drown people, and people came back… that's admirable. The culture is so deep that gentrification can't excavate it, though it's a shame that greed supersedes our elected officials' willingness to protect it. However, to know that my genes are marked with genetic material from warriors from Africa and Natives, that lived, danced, and fought on this fertile land, that alone inspires me to be bold and battle for what I believe in.