say what’s real
First off, THANK YOU! Thank you for supporting everything that Visuals by Shavon Meyers has done in the past year. Yes,
2016 the year that we we don’t speak of was a bit of a shit storm for many but I have to admit that personally, professionally and academically I excelled in the past year. A few positive moves made by myself last year include:
A 100% increase in voice over work. Seriously, I went from not having done any major voice over work since I left radio around 2011 to being a regular voiceover artist for a news app! It’s funny how the universe works. I say that because the minute that I decided to expand my brand and offer more services such as voiceover work, the universe said “Ok, here you go!”.
I created my first client website. Now I created and have been running my website for over 8 years now, but it’s my website. I have total control over it and have had time to learn the various platforms used throughout the years, but this was different. For the first time I was commissioned to create a website from scratch for a well know and established author and professor in anticipation of his new book. No pressure! 😉 Well I did it and he and his fan base love it so I intend on learning more about website development and will continue to offer my services in that field as well.
I finished my screenplay for what will be my fourth short film! This film will be longer than the last three but not feature length so it will still be considered a short. I anticipate production beginning this year.
I graced two major set productions that will hopefully make their premieres this year. The first involved me being an extra on Spike Lee’s Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It”. The overall experience was great and seeing Spike Lee work first hand was an inspiring moment in 2016. The second involved me flying to LA for a totally different video production experience. I can’t say anything else about it (the way this non disclosure agreement is set up…) but when it’s released you’ll hear more about it.
I launched sometimesshewrites.com in hopes of being more consistent with my writing. I said I would give it a good solid year, so here we go.
I’ve been shooting! Photography is my passion and I’ve been able to continue capturing moments and creating stories with new and existing clients throughout the year.
I paid off TWO credit cards putting me one credit card closer to being debt free. That’s a huge accomplishment that once did not seem to be attainable but with a bit of sacrifice and consistency I did it!
I ended the school year with a 3.8 GPA. 3.8 GPA!
I survived the madness that was the election season without harming myself or anyone else. That was an accomplishment.
Overall, I had a pretty good year and I hope you did as well. If you’ve been with me for awhile by now you now that I don’t really do new year resolutions, I just aim to do better. Get shit done, talk less and do more. I’m all about results because talk is cheap and in 2017 EVERYBODY has a platform to speak from which leaves room for lots of empty chatter. Each year I strive to be more present in this social media infused world and this year is no exception. Disconnect a little more from time to time and have real life connections with humans. Read more. Learn more. Grow more. Love more and allow myself to be loved more. Continue growing spiritually. Be more creative in my art forms and push the boundaries of these creative arts a bit more. These are honestly my everyday goals that are magnified at the top of the year. I hope this new year brings more prosperity, blessings, love and joy to you. Once again, thank you for your support. Let’s fuck 2017 up in the best way possible!
My President is black!
Next year, I won’t be able to say that SO, I’ll say it now for what will likely be the last time that I can say it for awhile.
About 7 years ago when I first decided to take my photography to the next level, I started as many photographers do. I took classes, learned as much as I could and shot as much as I could. This meant shooting a TON of events. You name it, I was there. Didn’t matter the event or if there was a budget attached to it (which most if not all of the time, there wasn’t) I just wanted to get out there and shoot, share my images and be seen on the scene as a photographer (most definitely not my style now). My first big gig was to photograph various events for a member of the NAACP at it’s 100th year celebration at the Hilton Hotel in Midtown. This was a huge event with the main speaker being non other than President Barack Obama.
The universe aligned perfectly to even allow me in the building, let alone capture images for one of the representatives and possibly of the then newly elected President Barack Obama, but it didn’t start out that way. After hearing about the event a few months earlier, I applied for a press pass for “The B Side Show” which was a podcast that I hosted and produced back then. I picked up my official pass and details about the events. The President was the highlight speaker, but only pre approved national news organizations and members of the press would be allowed into the auditorium to cover the speech for national new outlets. Blogs and podcasts be damned. Note: this was 7 years ago, before people even truly understood what blogs and podcasts were. Today, SOME of them are highly respected outlets of information, 7 years ago when I started mine, people scratched their heads and wondered why anyone would listen to a radio show online. Meh. My goal was to cover the event for my show and blog at the time. Sure I would have LOVED to be in the same room as the President during his speech but with no real connection to any national news outlets, it didn’t seem possible…to most.
The hotel was a few block away from my then current job at Sirius XM Radio. I was able to work my 9-5, leave and walk up the block to the event. It couldn’t get any better, right? I bolted out of the doors at Sirius XM (back then just Sirius) with the first DSLR that I’d ever purchased and my standard lens kit, press pass in hand, for ready for whatever. I made it to the hotel with no problem. Got to the entrance, showed my press pass to the attendant and made my way inside.
So now I’m here! I’m inside
The Carter ugh, The Hilton (but I did have that same excitement as Ice T and crew when Pookie finally made his way into the core of the operation). Now what? I didn’t have anyone on the inside to guide me through anything. I had my list of events and speeches that I was allowed to photograph but there was no point person to check in with. The President was scheduled to speak the following day, so this was the warm up to the burn down so to speak. One of the main days of musical performances, lectures and other NAACP events that led up to the President’s address. So, I made my my around. Pulled out my camera, put my press pass around my neck and waited. I was ready, but there was nothing happening. I’d gotten there early and none of the events were scheduled to take place at that time so I roamed around looking for anything to capture. I made my way into an event space for one of the speakers and performances of the evening. I stood close to the stage, camera in hand and again, I waited. Then something happened, the universe came through in a major way. A handsome young black man who worked for the organization approached me. “Are you photographing the event?” he asked. “Yes.” I replied eager to do something other than wait. “Would you mind helping me out, my name is…and I’m the Director of…for the NAACP and I need someone to follow me around and get images of me and the celebrities of the evening” he said. “OF COURSE!” is what I hope I said. Like his name, title and the exact conversation, I can’t remember every detail but it ended up with me following this young man around for hours meeting, photographing and mingling with celebrities and activists that I grew up seeing. HE was the plug as folk would say today. He knew everyone and everyone knew him and I was his photographer for the evening. PUSH THROUGH UNIVERSE.
We ended the evening with me having a ton of photos to sift through and him mentioning the main event the next day, The President’s speech. “Will you be here for that?” he asked. “Well, yes but I don’t have a pass to get into the actual auditorium.” I told him. “Ok…we’ll see what we can do about that. Be here tomorrow and I’ll try and get you in.” “OF COURSE!” is again what I hope I said, either way, I was excited and knew I would be there.
If you live in NYC or any town in which any President has ever visited, you know the madness that I am about to speak on. When the President comes to town everything shuts DOWN. I’ve never seen a city stand still and have so much movement at the same time quite like it does when the president arrives. I figured the word would get out about the President being at the event but I didn’t think it would be Times Square New Years Eve crazy. After working my shift at Sirius, I left a bit earlier to try and avoid the crowd. Unfortunately, I could see the crowd from a few blocks away as I approached the hotel. Excellent. I somehow managed to get myself to the front of the crowd with the NYPD and their barricades. Here comes the bullshit I thought. I showed them my pass and without a word, they opened the barricades and let me through. It was like the parting of the Red damn Sea! If there was ANYTHING that would stop my ass from getting into the building SURELY it would be NY’s finest, but no, the universe kept on providing…
I made my way in and called my contact. “You made it!” he seemed thrilled but not as thrilled as I was to make it in the building. Again, I don’t remember how exactly the conversation went but it ended with me getting access to the auditorium in which the President would speak. He told me that I would be seated next to the official White House TV crew. Some national media outlets were allowed inside the room, but most were only allowed in the separate media room to watch the event on tv screens. He pointed out the secret service people and other people that I should be aware of. He showed me to my section and off he went. He had to return to his duties and would actually get to meet and greet the President as an NAACP member. “Get whatever shots that you can get, but most of all have fun and enjoy his speech…” he said warmly. My heart smiles to this day when I think about the kindness and willingness of this stranger to give a newbie like myself an opportunity to shine. Hey universe, hey…
And then, there was The President.
The room exploded with applause as he walked on stage. Newly elected, youthful and full of energy. His speech provide inspiration, hope and promise. He gratefully acknowledged the past and looked onto the future. As a black woman, seeing my first black President address members of the NAACP at its 100 year celebration was one of those defining moments in my life. A monumental and historic experience that I will cherish for all of my days. But I also had to work! After the initial shock, excitement and moment of clarity, I picked up my camera and went to work. I couldn’t move around the auditorium and I had several huge tv cameras in my line of sight. Not mention the fact that I was situated on the balcony and was only working with a consumer level camera and standard lens as a novice to the art…so my photos weren’t great LOL. In fact they sucked. They suck to me now, 7 years later after learning more about the craft, myself and my equipment. After sharpening my skills with years of practice and investing in better equipment. But back then, they were ok. In fact, everyone including the person that I eventually delivered the final images to thought they were great. Keep in mind, the NAACP most certainly had other photographers present that were able to capture up close and personal images of The President backstage with other prominent NAACP members. The White House also always has its staff photographers on hand to share images for the press that they have total control over. I was more of a Camera B/behind the scenes photographer for the President’s address. But nonetheless, a behind the scenes photographer for a historic event featuring President Barack Obama. Not bad for my first official gig.
“And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” – Paul Coelho The Alchemist
Overall, all of the images, including the photos that I took at the various other events for the celebration, came out pretty good. Today, I strive for greatness and know that if the opportunity presented itself now, I’d excel at it with no problem. With the knowledge and skills that I’ve accumulated for my craft both in the field and in the classroom, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be able to provide exceptional images, even from a dimly lit balcony with tv cameras in my direct line of sight. Experience does that. Time and practice as well. Here’s the one thing that I had back then, even without the added skills and experience, I had confidence. I had it all! Did I know that my equipment wasn’t the best of the best? Yes. Did I let that stop me? No. Did I let the fact that I wasn’t as experienced as most scare me into backing out of this amazing opportunity? Hell no. I showed up, was ready to work, learn, listen and be open to the possibilities. That event, that moment in time solidified a lot of things for me, including my push to become a full time photographer. It proved to me that you don’t have to have a big name, huge following or sometimes, even the most knowledge in the room. You have to be willing to show up, step out on faith and be open to the possibilities. And let’s not forget, if you make mistakes, learn from them and move on! I am grateful that I had the universe working on my side that week and always. I’m grateful to the young brother that took a chance on me and offered an amazing opportunity to get my foot in the door. I’m grateful for being able to witness a black man with ties to the south side of Chicago be elected President in my lifetime and for the opportunity to watch him address those who helped create a path for himself, myself and the black youth that follow. Those images and that day are apart of my history.
No matter what happens with this election, UPDATE: Fuck Trump… I’m grateful that I was able to witness someone who looked like myself accomplish something that was so much bigger than myself. President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama inspire me to BE.
A NY Daily News article from January 2016 came across my social media feed highlighting a young Queens photographer by the name of Dark Cyanide. The teen captured photos of some of the city’s abandoned subway stations, you can see more of the photos here. It got me thinking about taking risks. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do this. Sneak into one of the many access points throughout the city, camera in hand, ready to document the rarely seen underbelly of the beast that is New York City. I have an attraction to “dirty” things. Let me be clear, I am a neat freak. I do not enjoy dwelling or working in filth or clutter. I hate when things are not neat and tidy, but I am attracted to ruin. Buildings that have been demolished, abandoned areas, things that were once new and beautiful and in use but have been left unkept and are now abandoned, old and dirty (see my trip to the abandoned Immigrant Hospital on Ellis Island). So what’s stopping me from exploring the abandoned subways that I’ve yearned to document for so long? FEAR. Damn right. I’m scared AF to go down under to not only discover what is sure to be a wonderland of undocumented ruined city jewels but also the thousands of city rats, insects, people (yes, the “mole people”) and not to mention the risk of being electrocuted, arrested or catching something that my body can not properly fight off. This 19 year old and his friends have that 19 year old immortality that we all believe we have at 19 and I envy that a bit. The 30+ year old me knows damn well that I am not immortal and no picture is worth risking my safety, however, there is still a part of me that wants to take that risk.
I want to risk it all and take that literal leap down an old manhole in the middle of an abandoned city block and leave all of that fear on the city street above me. I want to roam the desolate subway tracks capturing the beauty in the ruins below. I want to stand perfectly still holding my breath as I try to hand hold a long exposure shot, because fuck a tripod in these uncertain conditions. I want to leap from track to track as the wind from an approaching train brushes across my face. I want to discover the unknown and be fearless while doing it. Do I want to do this alone? Nope. Am I saying that I’m going to do this at all? Absolutely not. What I am saying is, I do want to flirt with the idea of it. Risking it all. Even if not for this act in particular. Maybe I take a risk and start a project that I’ve always wanted to start. Maybe I risk some money on an investment and see where it leads me while not worrying about the potential to fail. Maybe I film that ambitious new completed screenplay that’s sitting on my desk (actually, this is already happening…stay tuned). Maybe I just jump for the sake of taking the leap, knowing that I’m risking it all, or nothing at all. Maybe, the fear is all in my head and the risk is an imaginary door whose certain defeat is as easy as me taking a breath, opening it and walking through it.
Just breath and risk it all (or nothing).
Another week, another handful of black men dying at the hands of reckless police officers. If you’ve been living under a rock, google it. #blacklivesmatter and it’s time for a real plan of action. There are a few suggestions being thrown around and here’s one that I most definitely support, stop letting the dollar circulate. Artist Roshmond Sum Patterson and I had a dope exchange on twitter (@shavonmeyers twitter handle) about possible solutions to the mass murders occurring at the hands of police across the city. While my initial response is to STOP LETTING THE DOLLAR CIRCULATE and hit these cities in their pockets where it hurts (boycott), he came up with an even more appropriate first step that includes boycotting in a traditional sense but for a new era. Peep his solution and let’s stop talking about doing something and ban together and DO something.
Although during times like this things can get really dark, it’s important to remember that there has to be a balance and that balance comes from light and love. Spread love and light. Take care of yourselves, your family and your communities.
So here we are, 3 months into the new year and days away from Spring…SPRING! I feel like just yesterday I was putting together my action plan for this year and we’ve already knocked 2 months off the calendar. So far, how’s it going? How’s the year been treating you? How have YOU been treating you?
I’ve been busy. Not busy for the sake of being busy, not fake busy, not busy for social media…REAL LIFE BUSY. The kind of busy that I imagine new parents are who also work full time jobs or are in school. The kind of busy that you don’t brag about. The kind of busy that you don’t even have time to brag about. One of my newest favorite phrases that I’ve come up with: “A lot of times, when you’re really busy, you don’t have time to stop and tell the world how busy you are.” And that’s the truth, Ruth.
I’ve actually spoken a few things into existence early in this year and being busy is one of them. Last year I decided that I wanted Visuals By Shavon Meyers to be my full time priority. I changed my approach and decided that my business would not only focus on photography but other creative services as well. I’m multi talented, why not offer more than one service? I redesigned my site, added additional services and put myself out there. I was feeling great at the start of the year and then, I lost my newly hired manager…actually she was a lemon and I didn’t lose a thing, I gained, a lot. Nevertheless, not having that extra set of hands that I anticipated having forced me back into solo dolo mode and it was probably the best thing that could have happened. I starting finding small opportunities for my business and making a few connections. I started feeling like I could actually do this again…then…I got sick.
No, I didn’t get sick. I was knocking on death’s door hoping it would answer sick. For the entire month of February. Yay. I haven’t been sick in a looooooong time but I somehow managed to get the flu from one of my day job coworkers (Thanks!). Not only did I get the flu, I got pink eye…in both eyes, a chest infection, an ear infection and a foot injury. I can’t make this stuff up! All of that stuff actually happened at the same time (the first 3 and a half weeks in February), the foot injury happened a few weeks after all of the illness occurred. FEBRUARY WAS THE BEST MONTH OF MY LIFE!!!! All sarcasm here. It was the fucking worst. I was quarantined to my apartment with no physical strength or mental capacity for anything other than getting well. It was the first time that I didn’t care about anything business related, could care less about picking up a camera or having anything done for anyone. The worst.
Then something amazing happened in the midst of all the madness, I got a new weekly gig! A voiceover gig, which is right in line with the additional creative services that I now offer. This additional gig falls into my “I want to work as much as I can for my business this year” affirmation. I can CLEARLY remember telling my mother that I wanted to fill all of my free time up with gigs and opportunities for my business and the universe/God was like BOOM here you go. In order to properly execute my plan
for world domination to take my business to the next level, I also need to get my funds in order and that includes paying off my credit card debt. While I was sick, I managed to pay a credit card off a whole 6+ months ahead of schedule. BIG DEAL. Paying off that card early was a HUGH step in the right direction. BOOM 2X! Eventually, my body began to heal and reality starting setting in that, I have to WORK. Oh yea, there’s also school. That’s happening as well. So I now fall into the category of adult working two jobs and going to school part time ALL FOR THE SAKE OF FUTURE FREEDOM!
I need freedom and flexibility. The type of freedom and flexibility that does not come with a traditional full time 9-5. I’m just not built for it anymore. Not being able to use my talents and gifts on the daily is super wack and it feels like such a waste of time and energy. It’s actually draining! I don’t want to waste anymore time and energy on something I’m not in love with it. So, I’m busy. Working away to stack and put things in order so that I can one day soon do what I love everyday and not only at night and on weekends.
This is the stuff you don’t hear about. The long work days and nights, the weekends and “days off” spent working and studying, the sacrifices, the unexpected naps when you planned on working but your body just gave up and the fact that you still have to make time to LIVE. And I’m not even talking about the extravagant stuff like hanging out on the weekends with friends, going to brunch or to the movies, weekend getaways, watching tv etc. No, I’m talking about the basics like going food shopping, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, eating, sleeping…just making time to do the things necessary to live. Here’s the bat shit crazy part about all of this, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’m thrilled with my progress and excited about my journey, realizing that these are the important steps necessary to get me where I want to be. This is my shooting in the gym phase.
And I ALMOST wanted to complain about it, but I can’t and I won’t. What can I complain about? Being busy? Ha! Nah son, I can’t do it. Luckily I have people in my life that are empathetic to my journey. The handful of people that know my ultimate plan, get it. They understand why I have my phone on silent after a certain time in the evening dedicated to Visuals by Shavon Meyers and why I have “school days/nights” and why my weekends which used to be filled with uncertainty and freedom are now very structured and filled with work. They know that it’s this work, the evenings and weekends worth of my homemade concoction of creative services and education that fill me and allow me to make it through my days of unfulfilling and often draining work at my day job. Again, it’s about the freedom and flexibility to do what I love everyday and these steps are getting me closer to that goal.
So if you don’t see a tweet from me in a few days, or I don’t blog as often or I don’t post as many IG pics or I don’t do one of those GAWD awful daily life updates on FB (I really hate FB and only have a page for business purposes so it’s honestly the very last thing on my list of priorities) don’t fret. Do know that I’m here, working. And by all means, SEND ME MORE WORK! Yeah I said it, because the goal is for this to be a full time operation and the only way that this can happen is if I consistently book meaningful paying creative gigs. If you don’t know what I’m capable of other than film and photography, I invite you to check out my services page for a full range of services currently offered and my pricing page for a list of prices as well as a contact form for quotes. My portfolio page provides samples of all of my offered services.
If nothing more, I hope this serves as inspiration to you, because I know that I’m not the only person on this sort of journey. Keep going, it will pay off in the end. Even if the pay off isn’t a room filled with riches, it will be with happiness and freedom that can’t be purchased. Keep going, keep hustling, get those multiple streams of income going and don’t be afraid to try something unconventional. If you’re around my age you grew up with the notion of working one job for a certain amount of years, hopefully getting a decent retirement package and THEN living life the way you want to. And while there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with this way of life, I’m discovering that this idea is not the best thing for me. So, after over 15+ years of doing it the way that I’ve been told I should, I’m trying something different. Something that I haven’t necessarily been told is right but something that feels right, for me.
Keep going 🙂
It was a glorious time, until it wasn’t lol. For the most part, I enjoyed my radio days at Sirius XM. I made the decision to work in radio fresh out of my half a year at college, at the desk of my full time dead end job. I listened to Michael Baisden everyday religiously back when he was on 98.7 KISS FM in NYC. Every now and then he would do these follow your dreams themed shows. An entire show devoted to pushing people to follow their dreams. Whatever they were! I loved the feeling that I got from listening to his message and had a passion to work in the broadcasting field and one day have a show in which I could do the same. Long story short, I did it. Enrolled in CSB, landed an internship and clawed my way to technical producer. In that time I also developed The B Side Show and was able to host my own independent multimedia show for over 7 years. I made my dreams come true.
(Check this video that I did for The B Side Show about my radio job. You can also see me eat grasshopper tacos during one of our broadcasts!)
I admire the 20 something year old me. The one who made goals and accomplished whatever she set out to do, no matter what. No fear, no hesitation. She knew what she wanted, made a plan and got it. There was no other way. I’m getting to know her again. The idea of creating independently full time has been sleeping with me at night like a new love for this entire year. I can’t seem to shake it. I feel like I am meant to travel the world, capture images and share the stories of others through them. Figuring out how to do that and make an income that I can comfortably live off of is the issue. So I’ve decided to let go and let God and the 20 year old me handle this one. They’ll figure it out, I’m sure. She never got caught up in the fear and hesitation that the 30 plus year old me is struggling with. Things not making logical sense NEVER stopped her from accomplishing her goals. Literally everything she set out to do in her 20’s, she did it! So why can’t I? I ‘m researching, planning and getting out of my way so that she can take over and make this happen. I’ll see you chumps on top.
A while back I left college early. I was a college dropout before Kanye West made it popular. I never had any intentions on leaving early but the financial burden did not appeal to me at such a young age and without the support of one half of my parental unit, I decided to leave school in my freshman year and begin working. I promised myself that I would one day return and earn my degree. Over the years I did receive my certificate in Radio Broadcast and Audio Production which lead to my career in radio at Sirius XM and the success of my independent podcast The B Side Show. I enrolled in universities offering continuing education classes with the intention to master my craft in photography and film. The education that I received from college level courses, seminars, workshops and independent studies lead to the start of my visual arts business. With extensive film and photography work in the field, studio and wherever possible I immersed myself in the world of photography and film. During this time I also ccreated 3 short films which have all been recognized by various film festivals. I travelled, worked for big named companies and small independent brands. I wrote and published a book of poetry. I established a home for myself, loved, laughed and LIVED. I am of course still learning (and working, traveling, loving, laughing and LIVING) and while still on my journey to master my craft for myself and to provide my clients with the best product possible, I have finally decided to fulfill the promise that I made to myself over 10 years ago. I have officially enrolled in college and am on track to finishing my BA in Communication…at 31…shit happens. Life happens! My path to finish my education is a a realistic one and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. Yes, I often wonder how my life would be if I had that piece of paper in my possession now rather than a few years from now but I don’t regret my decision to do this thing called life my way. I could name a million reasons why I chose to go back and they are all valid however the one that trumps all is the fact that I want to finish school for ME. I need to do this for myself and now that I’ve officially signed on the dotted line, taken out the loans and have already started my first course, there’s no turning back now. Even as I sat and questioned myself, my decision and my intelligence while taking a quiz that began with mathematics that I haven’t seen in 10 years, I chose to keep going. I’m not quitting. Not this time. I’m walking across SOMEBODY’S stage with a diploma in my hand and you’re all invited! You’re invited to the process, the journey and the celebration because please believe when I do receive my degree it’s getting tattooed on my BACK! Not really, but it will be an important milestone. Enough talk, I have homework to do.