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Rising Stars: Meet Alfield Reeves

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alfield Reeves. 

Hi Alfield, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I was born in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa, and came to the states when I was about 3 or 4 to Brooklyn first and then to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I’m based now. I have always been creative and earlier on in my life that creative expression came out though writing, mainly poetry. 

It wasn’t until my sophomore year at Western Michigan University that I found photography. Brittany Glanton, a friend of mine, who was studying media studies asked me to do some hand modeling for her because I would always wear bracelets, I had from home. So, during our session, I just started asking questions about photography and she said I should try it. 

I happened to have $300 saved that summer for something, that I can’t remember to date. So, I asked on Facebook if anyone was selling a camera. Someone from my church happened to be selling a Nikon D40 that I bought. I started taking pictures mainly of myself, bible studies and events for the Christian organization I was part of, senior pictures, and different events on campus. In August of 2017, I went full-time after being a tutor coordinator for 2 years. Since then, I have the opportunity to travel to places like New York, New Orleans, and Miami, work with artists like Dawn Richard and Mannywellz, and be published in place like Vogue Greece, ProPublica, and the Grand Rapids Magazine. The best part of it all is being my own boss and the flexibility that comes with that. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
There isn’t success, however you personally define that, without struggle. 

I have and still at times do struggle with self-confidence, comparison to others, insecurity in myself, and my work being good enough. I have struggled with feeling the need to work too much because I might get behind somehow or miss certain opportunities. I have struggled with the need to prove others wrong instead of just creating what speaks to me and comes from who I am. I have struggled with downplaying my own success and accomplishments. I have struggled with creating for the money forgetting why I do what I do. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a self-taught portrait photographer. I specialize in creating work that encourages self-reflection and expression, promotes equitable action, and showcases black and brown identity and culture. My images are known for being warm, quiet, and bold. They bridge traditional divides between photojournalism, portraiture, and fashion. 

I am most proud of not losing my faith in the midst of all the success & accomplishments I’ve had to this point, staying true myself, and “betting the bag on myself & God” by taking the risk to go full-time back in 2017. 

I am set apart automatically because I’m one of one. My life’s perspective and being from another country sets me apart. Being more of an artist & creative than a photographer (Photography is one of the paintbrushes I use to paint) sets me apart. What sets my work apart is that it has depth & a voice. 

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
In terms of being human (you’re human first) 

– make time for rest 

– instill healthy rhythms for your physical, mental, and spiritual health 

In terms of a creative and photographer, I would say this. 

– Have fun! 

– Start where you are at 

– Use the resources & materials that are at your current disposal 

– Don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek mentorship with those in your field 

– find or create a community of other creatives 

– find your voice 

– remember your why 

In terms of business 

– separate personal and business finances 

– create boundaries so you don’t burnout 

– pay yourself first 

– staff your weaknesses 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Alfield Reeves Photography

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