Aqmera Am Khett Benu Williams | Buffalo, New York
I am black and RESILIENT.
Tell us who you are and what you do!
I am a 21 year old freelance photographer and an Aviation Ordnanceman in the U.S. Navy. I grew up in Buffalo, New York and have been here all my life. I was always interested in taking pictures, but I never had the financial means to really invest in it. I was first introduced to art by my brother, who is a connoisseur of many different facets of art, and at a young age began to admire his artistic abilities.
My first camera was a small, basic digital camera from Canon that I got from my Dad as a christmas present. I had such a fascination with documenting the important events and people in my life. My father passed when I was 16 and it shattered my entire world, and amongst other things, all I had left of him were the pictures I took. Being in the Navy allowed me to finally pursue photography how I always wanted to. Purchasing my first camera, a Canon 70EOSD, I branded myself i.asiyah. The word Asiyah meaning royalty in being a Pharaoh’s Queen.
What is the inspiration for your work?
“I base my work off the need and desire to capture things how they are meant to be seen.”
My mother used to tell me the biggest form of admiration is inspiration. I am highly inspired by a lot of other photographers, both local and nationwide; Alexander Harold, Carlin Watford, Marcellus Maison, Jordan Parks, and Anna West just to name a few. I am literally inspired by every and anything. I am never without my camera when I leave my room on the chance that I could see a moment needing to be captured.
I would describe my style as very free and candid. I like catching people off guard, it shows their true essence. Like I said before, after my father passed, pictures are the only way to still see him. Keeping this in mind, I base my work off the need and desire to capture things how they are meant to be seen. For example, the innocence of a child while playing; the pure joy that exudes from their eyes, not knowing what world surrounds them. Or on the opposite side of the spectrum, a homeless veteran; a poster child for a broken VA system.
What would you say to prevent an upcoming artist from making the same mistakes you have made?
“Don’t look at others’ success and the lack of your own and allow it to discourage you.”
Don’t look at others’ success and the lack of your own and allow it to discourage you. I have so many amazing friends who are photographers or videographers who have been in the game a lot longer than me, and sometimes I see their success and get frustrated wishing I could be in their shoes. I’m constantly reminding myself that my time will come. I have to remain humble.
What obstacles have you faced as a Black Artist/Business Owner?
“The narrative for my art may not touch all people, but I try my hardest to convey what I have or need to say in a way that anyone can feel and understand.”
Getting over the fact that not everyone will like or understand your art. Especially being black. The narrative for my art may not touch all people, but I try my hardest to convey what I have or need to say in a way that anyone can feel and understand. I yearn to move people with my pictures.
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