It is always a pleasure working with emerging recording artists. Not only are they purpose-driven and humble, but hungry. Often, that hunger and passion resonates throughout their sound and personality. The same can be said and much, much more about Nigerian/Sierra Leonean/Lebanese singer-songwriter, Di’Ja.
Last August, Di’Ja, born Hadiza Blell, reached out to me about styling and creative directing her next photo shoot. After listening to her hit single, Rock Steady, and reading her bio, I was excited to get to work with my first Nigerian-born starlet. *waves green & white flag* Di’Ja’s cultural background radiates through her unique sound as her music effortlessly merges pop, R&B and a hint of reggae. Like most Nigerians, Di’Ja is also degreed UP! She earned dual bachelor’s degrees with majors in psychology and biology, before pursuing what she knew to be her destiny: entertainment.
Her energy is infectious. If you ever have the opportunity to meet Di’Ja, you’ll know what I mean; people gravitate toward her as if they already know she’s a superstar. Once Di’Ja and I had our initial consultation, I knew I had to bring my ‘A’ game. The looks had to match her diversity in sound and culture without losing her as an artist. Di’Ja’s unique personality simply had to emanate through every look. I immediately enlisted the help of some amazing designers to bring my vision to life:
Dominique Auxilly: Look (1 &3), coral dress, and look (7), pewter dress.
Parfait Designs by Esosa: Look (4), unity skirt.
Delilah Johnson: Look (5), babydoll dress.
Artistic Aya: Look (5), paper earrings & bracelet and printed purse.
After pulling from designers, I went shopping to complete each look, and found great pieces from Betsey Johnson, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Steve Madden and ALDO. The mix of custom designs and off-the-rack pieces were the perfect fusion for the shoot.
As a fashion stylist, it is not only important to listen with your ears, but also with your eyes. Clients speak to you in many different forms and it’s your job to pick up on the minute details. Where possible, I infuse elements of my clients’ personal style. It provides them a fresh perspective on how to wear pieces in their current wardrobe. Using some of Di’Ja’s jewelry and shoes for this shoot ultimately helped her own each look.
The story below is what happens when an amazing team works with an even more amazing artist.
- Like Di’Ja’s Facebook Fan Page - http://www.facebook.com/pages/DiJa/184440925984
- Listen to her music on MySpace - http://www.myspace.com/musicdija
- Follow Di’Ja on Twitter - @aphroDIJA
- Download Di’Ja’s new single, Private Room on iTunes – http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/private-show-single/id435835147
Since the weather is changing, I felt this post only appropriate. It’s time to introduce you to some Fall Fashion!
You don’t need to be a former model to be a great creative director. However, stepping in front of the lens allows one to gain perspective on what the photographer is looking for from their subject, and what the person being captured needs to do for an awesome shot. Having this understanding, last Fall, I decided to put together a lifestyle photoshoot with Bentley, model from the Mattison Agency, and her precocious daughter, Savannah.
Bentley’s portfolio consisted of many high-fashion editorials and a few campaigns. I wanted to add some lifestyle shots to her book, so I enlisted the help of Elton Anderson, noted fashion photographer (I always wanted to say that), Nicole Alexis, make-up artist, and my cousin Kelechi Kalu, fellow stylist, to bring this project together. To keep the story consistent, Kelechi and I decided all three of us would wear bowties in our group shots. I was also able to pull a dress in the last look from Delilah Johnson, fashion designer from Miami.
Initially, the lifestyle shoot posed some difficulties for Bentley. One of the hardest things for a fashion model to do is be natural and not pose. A key difference between lifestyle and high-fashion shoots is the emotion the image evokes. One is more natural while the other is about fierce posing. After a couple of clicks and some light direction, Bentley found her rhythm. Soon it was time for me to step in front of the camera. Elton began to direct Kelechi and I on set, and I must say, it’s not as easy as it looks. Nicole, Alexis and Bentley chuckled as we tried to get into the groove of things. If you know Kelechi, he loves the camera. As for myself, I enjoy taking pictures with my point-n-shoot, but I give you one of two looks: an endearing smile *adjusts halo,* or the patented misty eye. YEEAAAHHH BABY! *Austin Powers voice*
My experience in front of the lens taught me so much, from shot composition and directing groups, to movement and even “natural” posing. Looking back at my body of work, I’ve seen the growth in my directing and my clients definitely benefited from my brief stint into “modeling.” I won’t be stepping in front of the camera anytime soon, so no need to hide your kids (#noeddielong) or hide your wives. This stylist has already been shot.