By Mahroo Keshavarz
Extremely talented rappers ThigNat (from The Physics) and Prometheus Brown (aka Geo from Blue Scholars) brought their creative minds together outside of the recording booth, going behind the camera lense and creating “Rappers with Cameras.” This project has been in the growing stages for the past couple years, creating a space to share photos from other rappers who also enjoy taking pictures.
Recently, Thig and Geo threw “Rappers with Cameras VII” at theirstudio in Georgetown. The two story loft had refreshments upstairs, and the gallery of photos downstairs strung like streamers against the wall of the entrance. Thig generously handed out free photocopies of his photo album zine to the guests. RWC captures all kinds of images, from the pretty girl eating a sandwich in the International District to photos of their other rapper friends doing “non-rap” things, like laughing on a couch, or hugging their friends, or staring off into the distance. I highly recommend whoever is reading this to follow @thignat and @prometheusbrown on twitter to find out more about the next “Rappers with Cameras” event so you can check it out for yourself.
It’s important for all artists, no matter what their medium, to explore different kinds of art and see how far your artistic mind can go. It is evident that a night like “Rappers with Cameras” shows how two rappers, that are mostly known for one art form, can successfully explore another. They captured so many great images, and giving friends and the community the opportunity to experience it with them was a lot of fun.
What is “Rappers with Cameras?
RWC is something Prometheus Brown and myself started a couple years ago. It functions as another medium for us to share our film photography with people. It takes the form of blogs, zines, and parties. Truthfully, it’s still evolving and who knows, in a year it could be a musical endeavor or something more profitable but for now it’s just another way for Geo and I to have fun with photography.
Is there a way for the general public to purchase prints?
We generally don’t put price tags on our work but if people want to inquire they can always hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org
When did you first get interested in photography and how long did it take you until you felt comfortable behind the lens?
I was never into photography all that much growing up. Justo (also of The Physics) was actually more into photography than I was in college. He would take photos and develop them himself and I thought it was cool but it was still more of an afterthought. I got into it around 2008. I bought this small point and shoot camera from Circuit City and used it to take pictures of my girlfriend and her dog and sometimes Alki and my family. That was my experimentation phase. I discovered through trial and error that it’s hard to make a good photo. In ’09 I upgraded to a DSLR and began taking my camera with me EVERYWHERE. Parties, family functions, the studio. Anywhere there was something happening, I brought my camera. That’s also around the time I started my Tumblr so that provided me with a way to share my photos. This was before twitter and Instagram got popular. In 2010 I discovered film photography. I don’t remember the exact sequence of events that led me to jump into film but I basically fell in love with everything about it. Film requires a more thoughtful approach in the way you shoot. Each roll of film costs about $15 to develop and scan for digital so unless you’re rich you have to be smart about what shots you’re taking. It took me a year and a half to really feel comfortable behind the lens. I finally got to a point where I wasn’t afraid to get in front of a complete stranger’s face and snap a photo. I’m still a student though and I still have a long way to go before I can consider myself a really good photographer. In general, I’m not as concerned with achieving technical prowess as I am with capturing great moments. To me timing is everything when it comes to a photo.
You have good instincts for documentary photography. Is that a favorite? What is it about documentary photography that inspires you?
I would say street photography is my niche. I love to shoot people, but not necessarily in a pre-meditated way like studio portraits. My favorite photos I’ve taken are of strangers. I love mystery. I want people to look at one of my pictures and really wonder what is happening, why is that happening, what’s going on here? Part of that is why I like to focus on details, cut off a head, shoot a hand, to give just a little piece of the story. I mentioned timing earlier. Street photography is all about timing and composition and creating a beautiful image out of all these different elements, some of which you have control over and some you don’t.
Do you feel that projects like “Rappers with Cameras” gives other musicians and/or other artists, good inspiration to expand in other forms of art?
I hope projects like RWC inspire people to be creative. Not just musicians but photographers too.
Would you look at that creativity? Can we say, “lets keep taking some photos so we can see as much as possible?” You want some links to see them? Well, good thing that Thig has so many forms of showing his work. Anything related to “Rappers with Cameras” is on his blog, And since his most convenient camera of choice is his iPhone, you can follow him on Instagram @thignat and of course, follow him on twitter @thignat.