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Conversations with the Inspiring Symone Seven

Today we’d like to introduce you to Symone Seven.

Symone, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Photography was a gift hidden in plain sight. Before 2017 when I began photography, I would have never guessed I would be a beauty photographer today. But in retrospect, it makes every bit of sense. I grew up in my mom’s beauty salon as a kid, so I understood beauty was a business. I remember being barely taller than the sink helping my mom shampoo heads to practice how to answer the phone in my best grown-up voice with “Shirley’s Beauty Palace, may I help you?” Then, as I grew older, I went my own way in journalism, acting, costume design, pageants and so forth. I was still always studying beauty and fashion. What drew me back to the salon was the summer of 2014 before I went off to college, my mom added a seafood restaurant to the back of the salon. In order to raise money to move from Florida to Atlanta, every day I had to say “Shirley’s Crab Shack, may I take your order?” and take photos of the food to promote on facebook. Once I started taking photos and posting them online, we began selling out of food daily. Everything was gone by 7 pm with the phone still ringing. When August came, I had enough money to buy my first real camera (Nikon D3200) and to move to Atlanta. Those two things were the keys that I wouldn’t use to open the door of opportunity until 2017. After a rough first few years, I found myself wanting to get back to the core of who I was by starting from scratch. I shaved my head bald, was reborn in Christ, renamed myself “Symone Seven, and picked up my camera again after three years. It became a business on accident. I shared everything online during my first shoot, and I went from taking photos of friends to having my first client two weeks later. It was more than obvious that photography was my path as doors began to open. In 2017, did over 120 photoshoots, celebrity clients, two magazine covers, 5 magazine publications, and a network of creatives in the first year alone. Now this year, I’ve been published 10 times this year, still going strong as a photographer full-time, and I just got accepted into Savannah College of Art and Design’s Commercial Photography program beginning 2019.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My journey has not been an easy one at all but there are two main things I had to do to stay on track: #1: Get over myself and #2: Pick Purpose. These two are interdependent because ultimately it’s giving up my ego of who I think I am to become who I’m meant to me. Your art especially is going to require that sacrifice to create the best you can at that moment.

I think the struggle of being creative is a lot like the horror movie “Scream,” where the scariest part is that trouble is calling from inside the house. I found that the biggest obstacle for me was getting over myself. In being a photographer, I realized that the only reason that stopped me from creating was always my perspective. It wasn’t social media, it wasn’t “haters,” it wasn’t magazine ads, it was me. I didn’t realize this until I came up against real external threats. I had faced great traumatic events, like right before becoming a photographer my car was stolen and my house burglarized while I was present in the same week. Those things actually pushed me to create because they took my perspective off my own localized insecurities to looking at what did I have left to give to the world.

In the past, it was always internal issues of not feeling enough or fear of success that held me back. But once I realized that, I found healing in serving, walking in my purpose and putting my faith in something bigger than myself. So, my advice to any creative or young woman is to keep your head on straight. I do this by remembering that the world does not revolve around me and to constantly say “yes” to my purpose and “no” to anything else. Seeking your purpose is often the remedy to those internal issues. Purpose by the very definition gives us a self-esteem by being proficient at something yet makes us humble to know that we are a small part of a bigger picture.

What should we know about your business? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m a photograpHER in Atlanta with a focus on beauty and headshots. There are many types of photography within my scope but I find myself affixed to faces. I pride my brand on being able to deliver detail-oriented images that are clean or creative. I love to appreciate the details that we often don’t yet to stop admire in hustle and bustle of life. I get so excited over the little things like the genius of a makeup artist adding in an extra pop of color on the lower lash line or noticing a client has one cute little dimple when they smile. From the feedback I receive is that my clients appreciate my eye for detail when it comes to executing a look and editing the final images. I’m also known for my creative self-portraits and my huge afro!

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
A barrier for female photographers is by no surprise the lack of respect from male photographers. We are often underestimated and spoken down upon because we are a minority in the field. As a 22-year old, black photograpHER who is new but experienced and looks like a model, I’m not taken as serious by male photographers. I get so many requests to model for them yet not respected as an equal on their level. I’ve literally had a photographer take a camera out of my hand while I was shooting saying I wasn’t doing it right in my early days. I think that barrier was actually an advantage for me because I built a door when doors weren’t opening. I work with all-female teams on projects majority of the time. I’ve found male peers in the industry that do actually respect me and we learn from one another with no issues. I’ve developed my craft that when I walk into a room you don’t have to like me but you do have to respect me.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Emari @westindiandolly, Derricka @deckedoutbeauty, Harriette @harriettesaneka, Emily @emily_lareina, Lily @lilyhammer1, @symoneseven, Leea @makeupbyleeamarie, Mia Hannah @imnotmodelmia, Ashante @_coxo_ , photo assistant Jabari @jabari_khalil_photography, @symoneseven

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