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Daily Inspiration: Meet James Purifoy

Today we’d like to introduce you to James Purifoy.  

Hi James, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I’m Jim born and raised native Detroiter. The west side is the best side! I wear many hats and wear them well! The hats I like best right now are for photography and filmmaking! I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember it started off with me drawing my mom pictures of Dinosaurs and Aliens and making up these elaborate back stories for them. In grade school, I would often daydream so hard it felt as if I left my own body. From here, I developed a deep love for cartoons and movies. I’m a poet as well once I got to high school my English Teacher loved my writing and she forced me into her Drama club it was at that point I realized I could act as well. So, when I got to college, I told myself I’d figure out how to make movies even though that wasn’t even what I was going to school for. Somehow, I think those desires brought people to me. I didn’t have the money to barely feed myself let alone buy expensive camera equipment so I’d always end up on a photographer’s creative team secretly learning all I could about working in front of and behind the camera. In 2019 I started working for our local Electric Company DTE, in fact, I still do, it was my first real good job I decided I was done giving my ideas and time to other people creatively and decided to take things into my own hands. So together with Jason “Squeeze” Ford, my mentor/brother/best friend, we found a house here in Detroit and started shotXshotstudios out of our basement he was the first guy to show me everything he knew about a camera he even let me borrow his for shoots before I got my own, I owe a lot of my growth as a photographer and filmmaker to him. We are now coming up on our one-year anniversary and we’ve done so much! Shot our first televised commercial, curated an art show fused with poetry, gained a residency at one of the most popular clubs in the city, “Spot lite Detroit” and we are just getting started. I plan to no I will shoot my first feature short film this year as well; I’m currently in pre-production I’m gonna submit it to a film festival. You’re gonna see a lot more of us I promise. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There are definitely ups and downs to this line of work. You have creative slums, but then at 5 am you wake up out of your sleep with a concept, and you’re once again inspired. Balance is key with all things because you’ll get burned out if you’re not careful gotta be careful with your flame. Trusting yourself is a big part of this getting over your sensitivity. Put yourself out there and let the work speak for itself! I try as much as I can not get stuck in a box. There’s just so much I want to do, so I learn as much as I can and just do it. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a visual griot. Griot being a storyteller or orator of history and feats the term comes from West Africa, and I’ve put my own twist on it to describe what I do. Everyone has a story, but not everyone knows how to tell it, when they tell it, or why. See I’m that guy who knows. It takes bison and imagination to take something mundane and make it visually pleasing, exciting even. I love the fact that my camera makes me feel like a superhero and my power is the ability to freeze time behind a lens each shot I take tells a different story, a different perspective. And when I’m editing, I go through them all shot by shot that’s where we got the name shotXshotstudios it’s all part of the process these smaller pieces adding up to the big picture. When I work with my clients, they trust me to capture the moment in a way that blows their minds. I’d like to think my vivid imagination sets me apart from other shooters I’m a big kid I’m not above getting on the ground and rolling around to get a shot I need or just exploring breaking the “rules” to what makes a “good” photo or video. To me, if it’s great, it makes you feel something deep inside, makes you think, makes you wish you were there. That’s what I love about this craft is how it makes me feel good to make others feel their best! 

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
In the words of Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick L. Duckworth Sit down and be humble! 

I cannot say how far humility will take you! When I say be humble, that is not to say don’t talk your ish it just means like all things in moderation and there’s a time and place for it all. I let others speak of my accomplishments, and I ask how I can help the next person. When you lead with humility, it makes others open up to you. Be kind always. But be about your business, know what you bring to the table, and stand on your word! Having a mentor could be the difference between you flourishing and fizzling out. They have the tools and knowledge to cut your journey time in half. Listen twice as much as you speak why do you think you got two ears and one mouth? Remember this when your humble folks tend to open up get them to talk about something you know they know, and you wanna know more about they will talk your ear off. And if they do know, they might have a colleague that knows. I don’t go anywhere without the intention of meeting someone new I’m a perpetual networking machine I don’t turn off. That is why so many people gravitate toward me. 

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