Name: Shae McCoy
Job Title(s): Journalist/ Photographer (freelance)
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore’s own Shae McCoy has been consistently blazing platforms and leaving her media footprint within the DMV ( DC-MD-VA) area and beyond. At the ripe age of 22, she founded Uncommonrealist.com, a media source positively cultivating the minds of the public in not just the realest way but in a “realist” way.
McCoy’s deep passion for pop culture, the arts, and news has enabled her to expand her brand and be in the same room with the greats. Shae has had the honor to interview actors, activists, community leaders, and local politicians. One of the highlights of her career was interviewing the Michael B. Jordan, who starred in the Wire, Fruitvale Station, and Friday Night Lights.
Shae fell in love with words at an early age. She was enamored with its power to move, motivate, and inspire. As a young girl, she wrote personal narratives and short stories. As Shae grew older, she grew fond of journalism and realized that is how she would make her mark on the world.
She recently started Coy-Op Photos, a photography brand that caters to various types of photography.
Sapphire: Though you’re so young, your journey as a photojournalist has been a long one. Can you tell us how you got started? Which came first, your love of writing or love of photography?
Shae: I started this journey as just a blogger/journalist in 2013. Uncommonrealist really was something that was created in the same day that I thought about it. For years before that, I wanted to create a blog, but didn’t know where to start. I literally just had a day off from my retail job and got to work. The name of my blog came as fast as lightning, I didn’t have to put too much thought into it. I wrote my first article about Fruitvale Station and once I started receiving feedback about my article I knew that this was something I was meant to do and to keep it up.
I started doing photography in July of 2016. I originally picked up photography to be able to add photos to my articles so that I wouldn’t have to search for images via google. That plan didn’t stick too long because it was festival season, so I ventured out. I took my first collection of photos at the African American Festival and was pleased with results. That was also where I picked up my first paid gig.
Sapphire: Three years ago, you started your own company, The Uncommon Realist. What inspired you to launch your own brand? What did publishing under your own brand do for you as a journalist?
Shae: I’ve loved to write ever since I was a kid, I started out with creative writing. I always wrote the best stories, narratives and poems in my classes. Writing is something I can do with my eyes closed as long as it isn’t being forced, because no one wants to be forced when it comes to something they love. As I grew older I kind of strayed away from writing for a while because I was going through turmoil at home.
Once I got to college and saw that there were classes dedicated to writing, I picked it back up. I always knew that I would find a place in the media field, I just didn’t know where I would be exactly. News reporting always sparked my interest, but I didn’t think I was fit for TV so I gradually moved into writing in a journalistic style. I started Uncommonrealist in my sophomore year of college and then left school for three years. I didn’t think I was focused enough at the time. Starting Uncomonrealist definitely is shaping me as a professional and developing me as a person. As a journalist, it has presented me with plenty of opportunities.
Sapphire: You’re a contributing writer to the newspaper at the University of Baltimore, The UB Post; How long have you been writing for the publication? What are you majoring in at the University of Baltimore?
Shae: I have been writing for The UB Post since February of this year. My major is Digital Communications.
Sapphire: You recently wrote an article about the state of Baltimore’s inner city communities, focused on generational poverty and gentrification. What made you decide to write the story? What kind of response did you get?
Shae: I wrote that story because I am living that story as we speak. I am in a better space than I was growing up, but I am still in the same neighborhood I wrote about. The way that it is changing before my eyes is mind blowing and I had to express that because I know a lot of inner city residents can relate. The responses I received were mostly in concurrence with what I discussed. People were offering suggestions and trying to help.
Sapphire: There’s a huge LED billboard on Charles Street, a major Baltimore thoroughfare; it’s located practically right outside on Baltimore’s Penn Station which is a central transportation hub for the east coast. What does it feel like to have your work on a billboard with the capacity to reach millions of people daily?
Shae: It was a great feeling, a small success, but a great feeling nonetheless. It was just something on my list that I wanted to do. It was cool to see my work up that high and for people to stop and take pictures. I made sure that I included photos that I took of people I know so that they could see themselves up there as well.
Sapphire: Photographers tend to be shy, quiet thoughtful types. Who is Shae McCoy? How would you describe your personality and personal style?
Shae: I’m someone who appears to be very social, but really likes to be around a small amount of people or alone. I’m always shy in the beginning until I feels like she is comfortable enough to be open and fun around you. I’m outgoing and outspoken, which can appear as a contradiction to my usual laid back self. I just likes to be comfortable when not out working hard, that usually requires a loose outfit and a place with a great view.
Sapphire: Where do you see yourself five years after graduation from UB?
Shae: Working in a newsroom, but if print media is still relevant in 5 years I can see myself in that field as well. I see myself as a photographer for huge companies and both of my brands expanding in a major way. I never really answer this question too well. [lol] The world is forever changing I just hope to be on the good end of things.
Sapphire: I’ve noticed and have been enjoying your summer photo series. What can people expect from you this summer?
Shae: Thank you. I plan on having a book made for 2 of my photography collections, one old and one new. While preparing for that I will be around at some of the local events this summer snapping photos and doing shoots.
Sapphire: Where can people keep up with your work and find more of you?
Shae: People can keep up with brands by:
Visiting and subscribing to Uncommonralist.com
Liking “Uncommonrealist” on facebook
Following “Uncomonrealist” on soundcloud
Following “Uncommonrealist” on Tumblr
Thank you so much for having me!
Name: Caitlin Tabilog
Location: Atlanta, GA
Talents: Photography, soccer, painting, drawing, and piano
Sapphire: You’re a great photographer, your range is awesome. How do you decide what projects to take on or start?
Caitlin: Thank you very much! I appreciate it! Being young, ambitious, and having a love for learning, I’m open to almost any type of project that arises. I want to gain as much experience and knowledge I can with photography and the business side of photography.
Sapphire: I love that you are not stuck in a studio all the time, you seem to have an affinity for nature shots. What so many outdoor shoots?
Caitlin: There is a special beauty and glow with natural lighting that is difficult to replicate with artificial lighting. I also love the bokeh effect (blurred background) that also causes the blending of colors found in nature that happens when you photograph a subject in a nature environment for the background.
Sapphire: I’m pretty impressed in this day and age that you’ve dabbled with actual film. What made you go retro and try it? How did you like the results compared to digital photos?
Caitlin: I took two film photography classes my freshman year of college (2014-2015). We were required to shoot our assignments with film and develop the photos ourselves in the darkroom. Photos taken with film have a particular visual result compared to digital photos and feel more personable. I feel more attached to film photos, because you are responsible for getting the exposure correct without a preview in the camera. Also, it’s important to get the developmental steps in the darkroom correct, because there is no undo, preview, or delete button unlike digital cameras and photo applications. Also, there is a distinctive color effect, sharpness, and grainy look to film photographs that I think many photographers, presets, and filters are often trying to replicate with digital photos.
Sapphire: So many photographers are stuck on models, you capture real people. What made you decide to go against the norm?
Caitlin: Due to not having that much experience yet with photographing portraits, I had to practice with people that I knew who I perceived would enjoy modeling in front of the camera to build my portfolio in the beginning. I also adore bringing out the beauty, or the best in people that many clients are not aware of or who are insecure about the way they look.
Sapphire: Switching gears for a moment I see that you have another talent. You’re a writer as well. Care to share more about that?
Caitlin: I was a writer for The Odyssey for a short period of time, but I enjoy journaling during any free time I have. I believe writing is another art form, and it is a healthy way to express and release your own feelings and personal experiences.
Sapphire: I love that you’ve taken the time to learn the process and not just point and click. How hard was it learning to edit your own photos? Do you offer editing services to others?
Caitlin: Thank you! Learning how to edit my photos took a lot of time, dedication, and trial and error. However, there is a lot of helpful and quality information that is easily accessible through the internet. Creative Live, Phlearn, and Fstoppers are great on-line resources for information. I do offer editing services to others. I have retouched other photographer’s photos before, and I can be requested to teach my culling, editing, and retouching process to anyone who is interested by emailing me at photography@caitlintabilog.
Sapphire: Do you remember the joy and excitement you felt when you first learned that your work had been chosen to be displayed at the Roswell Visual Arts Center?
Caitlin: I was very grateful to learn that my photos had been chosen to be displayed at the Roswell Visual Arts Center, but I was even more excited to learn that my photography professor organized a class field trip to have the class drive to the gallery to view my work.
Sapphire: What’s next for you? What can we expect to see in 2016?
Caitlin: I am currently communicating and working with a non-profit organization to help teach a photography class for children and teens who have loss a loved one to show them how they can use photography to express their emotions. Additionally, in 2016, I plan to learn as much as I can about photography and the business aspect of it through my internship with a local photography studio and work to save as much money as I can to hopefully visit New York City one day. I aspire to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York someday and view in person the art pieces that I have been studying in college and adore.
Sapphire: Where can people keep up with you and your work?
Caitlin: People can keep up with myself and my work through my website and social media.
I just love being able to highlight and showcase talented people. There’s something about watching others shine that brings Me a real inner joy and peace. I think because in so many way I’ve achieved My dreams I love other dreamers.
Yesterday the new issue of London LeBlanc Magazine was released featuring two interviews I conducted. This is the third issue of London LeBlanc I’ve written for. I’m so happy to be able to offer talent not only the opportunity to be featured here but also in print.
Patrick: I am fully digital particularly for the convenience. I get quicker results and turnaround and the software allows me to manipulate the data in the file artistically. It allows me the easy opportunity to present my clients with an artistic jaw dropping image.
Patrick: I am not sure how to answer this because beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. I don’t set out to to shoot the amazing imagery but while out something has to catch my eye and then the hunt is on. Have you ever been out; saw something that grabbed you and said to yourself ” Dam I wish I had my camera with me”. Every now and the I will grab Baby ( his camera), turn off the phone and go for a long walk with her butt just to be together.
Patrick: It was great working with him. This was before the movies and during “In Living Color”. I had auditioned for the show but of course he was funnier. Very talented and funny. Great at improv as well. It was so relaxing in the green room he was literally getting a hair cut. I learned a lot watching him.
Patrick: I posted an image one day and got a lot of comments on it. I can’t remember which image but for some reason people felt emotional about the picture. The image aroused an emotion but no two comments had the same reaction. One of the comments said that my work seemed to have a healing quality like I was ‘The Camera Whisperer.’
Patrick: I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Lindi, Tanzania this past August with Stepping Together on a health mission. They were a team of doctors providing from cervical cancer screenings. This mission happened around the week of the biggest celebration in the district called “Nane Nane” meaning 8/8. Most of the people are farmers and they bring in their crop and meeting with others who are producing in the region. It was an amazing festival. Seeing the culture and differences from my world opened my eyes. There was very little electricity and the use of the bathroom was different. You were hard pressed to find a toilet bowl. They have a hole in the ground. That is a whole other story. I saw the kids having creative fun like our kids. Instead of a Wilson soccer ball they have taken plastic bags wrapped in tape. They played like it was the world cup.
Patrick: I got into radio in my 20’s as a way to keep my instrument strong. It afforded me the opportunity to keep my improv sharp and my acting tuned. These tools make for good voice acting and what a lot of advertisers are looking for. I would love to do an animated film.
Patrick: None that I know of.
There are a lot of BLAZING photographers popping up all over the place. With the invention of sites like Instagram, Model Mayhem and Facebook, we are being treated to the beautiful works of artists we may have never even known existed. From city to city, coast to coast I want to shine the spotlight on those who impress me most. I will be bringing you interviews with some of the hottest established and up and coming photographers that I run across as I blaze my own path of fame across the net. Let’s get it on!! Time to meet one of the greats………
Name: Cayne Clarke
Based In: Washington DC / Baltimore MD
Name of Company: Cayne Clarke Photography / NFLAVA Model Magazine
1. How long have you been perfecting your craft? I was first introduced to photography my sophomore year in college through a friend that was into photography
2. What were the influences that led you into Photography? What type of photography do you specialize in?
A good friend in college got me started with me very first Nikon camera. I think it was the opportunity to capture people in all kinds of ways. In college there were no shortage of girls who wanted to pose for us. You can say being around sexy young women and taking their pictures could be an influence as well. Another is definitely the digital age and the additional magic one can do with computer software.
My specialty is studio eye candy portraits. I used to also include urban in my definition but I have since grown to include much more than just the urban culture.
3. Growing up what did you see yourself doing for a living? Do you still plan on pursuing that at some point?
I didn’t really have a profession I targeted; I just wanted to go to college and major in Marketing and do something in that field. I did get my degree in marketing and advertising but I never got into the field. I work as an IT professional. I don’t believe I have any interest in doing marketing at this point in my life and career.
4. Are you strictly a photographer, or with the new technology available to us now that digital photography has taken over, have you gone into graphics at all?
Part of my specialty is using the digital image taken from the camera and transform it into something unique and special. So yes, I have also incorporated graphics into my photos as well as retouching techniques.
5. Were you a photographer before the digital age? Can you shoot with film: and if so, do you miss the old days of actually developing your film, and watching your work come to life in front of you?
I came into photography just as the DSLR’s were being introduced to the world. My buddy was a film guy and I used to watch him develop film. I never got into it. I can say I’m glad I am shooting in this era although I do have a respect for those who came up in the film age.
6. Do you shoot indoor or outdoor more often? Which do you prefer and why?
I mainly shoot indoor as I am studio photographer however, I do like shooting outdoors and it depends on the day; if it’s cloudy and dull I may go for some subtle black and white images; if it’s sunny I may go for more radiant and bright images. I prefer indoor studio because I get to control my environment from the lights, the props, and even the general space.
7. What is your ultimate goal? What would be your Dream Project?
My goal is to be able to make enough money from photography that I can be consistent with a great downtown loft studio. A dream project would be shooting for my own gallery showing.
8. Where can people see your work?
Besides Facebook and other social media you can Google my name or studio and plenty of my past work will be displayed. I also have a published magazine called NFLAVA Model Magazine as well as a hard book cover on sale on amazon of my black and white portraits. My website also displays my model portfolio work but some of my commercial pieces as well.
9. Have you ever been published? Do you own a publication?
You’re reading my mind. Yes. I own and manage NFLAVA Model Magazine, a magazine that I consider to be a useful stepping stool for many unsigned models looking for practice and exposure. I’ve also had my work published in several magazines by way of the Sexy Sapphire, a brilliant social media marketing guru. I’ve also had my photos appear in one major film, ATL. If you are familiar with the movie, some of my pictures were used as props in Uncle George’s room.
10. If someone wanted to hire or contact you for a session, how can they get in touch with you?
The 2 best ways to reach me for booking is through a Facebook message or send me a shoot request via my websites’ contact page – http://ibpstudios.com.