The Brooklyn Eye: Ishmail Thoth Ra the Photographer
Ishmail's photography is the stuff made for editorial magazines such as Vogue and Bazaar. They are compelling, drawing you in with saturated color and with the striking pose of the subjects. Bad Girl Confidence was enthralled by his fashion photography, which we featured in this piece but Ishmail talent stretches beyond the sartorial into the artistic as he peels back the layer of his subjects to create impactful and beautiful portraits. We asked Ishmail to tell us all about himself...
My name is Ishmail Thoth Ra, I am a photographer based out of New York City. I was born in Brooklyn and raised around the United States. I grew up in old New York, where the L train wasn't the same L train and when Williamsburg was a danger zone. My art reflects the ever changing climate of the city; the change of the old to the new. I do that with the use of film and digital photography, bringing photos together to see what comes out into the light.
My photography story started when i was young. I used to go to an after-school program in jr. high school called Imani Altismo center; there we had art programs. This is where I was first introduced to the dark room and photography. After that, in between the years, I would take up polaroid photography. I didn't take it serious until years later after college. I first started getting back into film but it was too expensive, so i moved towards digital photography. I would just shoot all the time. I then started a photography class while living in North Carolina. This is where my interest really grew but my hard drive crashed and I decided to go back to film photography. At first, I would pay to have my photos developed but it cost so much money. I started working at the Bushwick community darkroom. There, I learned to process film and print them. I started doing different mixes of film scans and digital photographs.
My Moon Goodness is one of my favorite pieces of work because it has all the elements of a great photograph and it is a mix of both film and digital photography, yet it still has a balance. I would describe my work with the quote "forever forwards, never backwards." I am always pushing for new ideas and concepts. My work deals a lot with color and contrast. There is a constant challenge with my work because New York is over-saturated with artist and creative types. So trying to find a defined style is always a mission.