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Meet Downtown Photographer and Cinematographer: Raphael Baker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Raphael Baker.

Raphael, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
With both of my parents being an artist, I was encouraged from the beginning to pursue a career as a creative. Like my late father I wanted to be a painter, and I drew a lot. I went on to take up Fashion Design + Marketing. I achieved so much in design school. I was given the opportunity to display one of my designs at the High Museum of Art. From there I met one of the designers from Project Runway and we later did a project for New York Fashion Week (NYFW).

For whatever reason, photography + video just so happened to be more interesting to me. The year I started school for Graphic design, I talked my mom into buying me a camera for Christmas. Knowing photography was her thing, I figured it wouldn’t be that hard for me to convince her to buy me a camera. I got a Nikon D5000! It was one of the first DSLR’s to have a video function so I felt it was only right that I learn how to use it. After that, my creative career started to take shape.

I was dating my wife, Ibadiah, at the time. After meeting the homie Brandon on Craigslist, Ibadiah and I were brought on as Graphic designers for his streetwear brand Fuck Your Shit (FKYRSHT). Always having my camera with me, he got the bright idea that I should shoot the look books and fashion films. The work created early on with FKYRSHT helped in developing my eye and tone of my work. It gave me confidence in creating with the bare minimal.

I did my internship at Rolling Out Magazine. The week after starting there, I received another internship at Drexina Nelson Productions as an assistant. RO gave me the opportunity to really explore the photography field over the next 6 years. With them, I shot everything from concerts (Kendrick, J. Cole, The Roots, A3C, etc.), to portraits and events. I even got a chance to shoot my first ad campaign for Monster Headphones.

Working with Dreixna Nelson–one of the best photographers in the city–I was paired with her key assistant, Ron Hill. Watching the both of them, I was able to learn how to conduct myself in a professional manner as I gained an understanding of what it was like to be a professional photographer. Up until that point, I was self-taught and fairly rough around the edges.

Ron was the best teacher you could have as an aspiring photographer, even today. He was younger than me, but he had way more experience under his belt as a photographer. With our life experiences being so similar it made it easier to relate to and, ultimately, learn from him. Drexina was the push I needed to develop my eye in video as I was tasked with shooting the majority of her “BTS” videos and fashion films. Both of them being perfectionists, they pushed me to not just look at this as a hustle or hobby, but to go beyond what was expected of me.

Towards the end of my stint at DNP, I met and began working with MUA Blasina Ware. At the time Blasina was also in school for Graphic design. Our first time working together, we shot an editorial for her class assignment. Always wanting to do an editorial, we approached it as more than a school project and used it as the first significant step into editorial photography. Over the years we developed a close working relationship and I ultimately became the Senior Photographer for her fashion/beauty magazine Estela!

Has it been a smooth road?
The struggle is real! It has not been a smooth road at all! However, I wouldn’t change anything. Had it been smooth I may not have started White Walls and Shit (photo-series). Things got harder when I became a freelance photographer. Everyone loves the work I’m doing but I find it hard to get booked at the rate I ask for. Knowing my worth was instilled in me, so I don’t and won’t settle for anything less which is sometimes a bad thing when you have a family to provide for. So now its more of an internal struggle. The industry is so up and down to the point you can be on top for a few months and the next two months not get booked for anything. If you don’t work you don’t eat literally! Thankfully I have great family and friends that are always in my corner even when they don’t fully understand the path I chose to take.

What role has luck had in your life and career?
I don’t really believe in luck but I’ve been blessed to be in the right places and around great people. Even situations that would be deemed as bad luck, has always been used as a chance to reflect and grow.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Honestly, I don’t feel I have reached a point where I can say that I’m successful. I’m still trying to figure out those characteristics myself but, hard work, organization, consistency, a willingness to learn and evolve are steps in the right direction.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Atlanta has always been a hotbed for culture and creativity but as of late its flourishing like I’ve never seen before. The art scene is so vibrant and open. You can run down the belt line and see some of the best street art, open exhibits, and galleries. Every neighborhood has its own vibe, culture, and cuisine to experience, and it’s still growing. If you get out the house, it’s hard not to be inspired!

Contact Info:

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Image Credit:
Juné LeJoí (@_gypsy_eyez_) for Ellements Magazine (@ellementsmagazine)
Killer Mike for Rolling Out Magazine
Dionne Michelle (@dionnemichelle_)
Whitney (@whitneylashon)
Meg (@demantistclaire)
Gen (@yofav__african) Dontrell (@pretty__eyezz)
Sara (@saranaomi1) for Estela Magazine (@estelamag)
Aarendy (@aarendy) for Estela Magazine

1 Comment

  1. D. Nelson

    December 6, 2016 at 1:58 am

    Awesome, keep moving forward…very inspiring heart felt, keep the dream alive never let go, see it, before you see it.

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