A CREATIVE DC: THE COLOR COLLECTIVE
A Creative DC is a weekly series showcasing all aspects of a creative lifestyle in the District. The city's full and part-time doers and makers, how + where they live, gather, and create, and what they do, make, and notice. For more about the project click here. Follow along here at Panda Head and at @aCreativeDC on Instagram, and hashtag your own DC lifestyle with #aCreativeDC. Your life looks good here.
"As a whole, our mission is to show total appreciation for cultural diversity through one of the best ways possible...through art." – Brandon Combs
Roland Agli and Brandon Combs helm The Color Collective, a a project that just launched in conjunction with (and in honor of) the start of Black History Month. In partnership with fellow photographers Ryan Dixon and Tobi Odukoyat, The Color Collective is as much an exploration of aesthetics as it is of race + politics: gorgeous fashion portraiture accompanies interviews that touch on police brutality, civil unrest, and inequality. One subject at a time (and with four interviews published so far), The Color Collective is presenting and appreciating Afrocentrism, cultural awareness, individualism, and spirituality. It's really an incredible project, and it's one that I'm so excited to feature as part of A Creative DC.
"Positivity breeds unity and love, and that's what we're working towards." – Roland Agli
Roland and Brandon are frequent collaborators, and I came across their respective work by way of our mutual friend Katalina at El Camino Travel. She mentioned their Instagram feeds (@raat_fashion and @dmactherealist) in conversation, and after a few weeks of following along I was thrilled to spend some time with the two of them in person. I can attest to the fact that they're as impressive as a glance at their visuals might suggest; PMA to the max and g r o u n d e d – they're not taking one hour/minute/second of their talent and growing success for granted – I love their mindset, re: creativity. Inspiration "comes from a place of not wanting to be bored," (Roland) and a commitment to quick action ("You got the juice, don't waste it." - Brandon), is near and dear to my heart.
"2015 is the year of opportunity & I refuse to leave opportunity on the table." – Brandon
Maryland-based and in and out of the city weekly for shoots and energy and VIBES, I love what these two contribute. Click through after the jump for an interview with both of them about their projects, their 2015 plans, and the feedback they've been getting since launching The Color Collective. All photos by Roland Agli.
B O R N + R A I S E D...
...in the city of Chicago. I'm currently residing in Hanover, MD – Brandon
...in Togo, which is a smaller version of Haiti located right besides Ghana and Nigeria. French is my native language but I speak English fluently as well. I moved to the U.S at the age of 9, and I've lived here ever since. – Roland
How do you guys describe what you do? When did you start working together?
Roland: I'm a lifestyle and fashion photographer.
Brandon: We never really focused that much on titles tbh, lol. I don't really look at my team, friends, peers, etc. any differently, we're pretty much just photographers. Creators & visual storytellers. We first started working together back in high school, pretty much when I first began photography. I always said that art tends to bring other creative minds together; we began taking fashion photos here & there, next thing you know, it's about 4 years later. We've both come a long way with our gift.
Roland: [We met] in the 9th grade, and we both had an interest in Photography but didn't really get serious with it till Senior year...We've done a lot of projects and improved our skills over the years.
Can you talk about how the idea for The Color Collective came together?
Brandon: The Color Collective was an idea that started with Roland & I, but we knew that if we wanted the project to flourish the way we envisioned, we were going to have to acquire the help of a couple other creative minds. Tobi Odukoyat & Ryan Dixon are the other photographers involved with the making of The Color Collective & they've really been making a big contribution towards the visual aspect. Tobi & Ryan, both great friends of ours, have a very unique perspective not just with art, but life in general, so I knew that we were doing the right thing by bringing them aboard.
Roland: The project is a way of bringing awareness to the beauty of [people of color]. It doesn't necessarily have to be African Americans, but anyone of color. It can be black, white, tan, blue or anything, but the point of the series is to showcase cultural positivity in every aspect. The main approach we're taking is the fashion approach, which everyone can relate to. We usually target creatives and individuals who use their talents to impact their community in a positive way.
Brandon: Fashion is an expressive art form that will always be effective in capturing someone's attention. We not only wanted subjects with a unique perspective/vision, but people with a sense of fashion that represents their personalities as well as the afrocentric vision that we're looking to capture.
The site launched to coincide with the start of Black History Month. Will the project continue after February? And what's the response been like so far?
Roland: We plan to make this a brand. It's not only to bring awareness to Black History Month, but to connect people of every race and work together towards a better future for our generation. Positivity breeds unity and love and that's what we're working towards. We've received a lot of positive feedback and some negative as well. But I appreciate the negatives as much as positives because it gives us a blueprint to improve ourselves.
Brandon: We've gotten a lot of positive feedback with high hopes for the project, I love the support that we're getting. Of course there's always a negative comment or an opinion that may contrast with what our subjects believe, but that's natural with life: there's support & there's opposition. We're definitely looking forward to what's to come in the future. I can't tell exactly what's to come or how it's going to happen, I currently have no idea TBH. But all I can say is that there'll be plenty to look forward to. It's not just a photo project, it's a movement.
"My biggest takeaway is the fact that I'm able to connect with different individuals and walk a mile in their shoes. I love learning about people and photography has blessed me with the ability to do so. I'm very grateful for that." – Roland
"My biggest takeaway from the project is that unity is the most important piece to progression. One of our subjects Kiahl included this in one of his answers: 'The most essential and imperative tool that we have is unity. The more hands, more positivity, and the more active participants we have involved in trying to unite then the better we’ll be.'" – Brandon
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