looking into atlanta’s music scene through kai tsehay’s lens
August 13, 2021
AFROPUNK x Black Women Photographers Are Proud to Announce The Back and Blacker Than Ever Photo Pit Experience. The partnership with Black Women Photographers aims to give black women / non-binary photographers a chance to get a full access pass to photograph the festival. To win this, contestants will have to make an Instagram post or Story answering how they’d cover this year’s festival from the lens of a Black woman or non-binary photographer. They must follow @afropunk and @blackwomenphotographers on Instagram, tag both accounts in the post, and use the hashtag #AFROPUNKxBWP. The Deadline is Monday, August 23rd.
To honor the partnership, we will be celebrating exceptional women of color who have been trailblazing in the photography industry for the next few weeks, starting with the photographer, Kai Tsehay. Kai Tsehay is a Creative Entrepreneur and Freelance Photographer. She is Spelman Alumna with a B.A. in Psychology, originally from Washington, DC, and currently working between New York City and Atlanta, GA. Since 2016, she’s captured the likes of a multitude of music artists across the spectrum from album covers, concerts, behind the scenes, etc. by expressing her musical talents through visual arts. This summer Kai has focused her lenses not only on music artists but on spaces in which you can find Black communities having moments of nostalgia and joy.
Can you tell us about your career journey so far?
My photography journey has been a whirlwind of falling in and out of love with this field. This journey has allowed me to be in spaces that I could never dream of and meet/develop long-lasting friendships turned into family. My journey started as a child. I dabbled in so many visual art forms until I officially realized my passion for photography around the end of 2015. As I got through college I fell in love with capturing the Atlanta College Scene which eventually ventured me into getting involved in music industry photography. After my college, I decided to pursue photography full time which has not been the easiest route but has been very rewarding internally. I decided to pursue this career because of the need for Black Photographers to capture and control our narratives and to evoke nostalgia. There is so much power in Black Photographers capturing our narratives because we have lived in a world where White people have used photographs to weaponize/demonize the Black bodies and the Black experience, by taking visual narratives into our hands, we can begin to show not only the negative but positive Black visual representation for next generation to come. I want the next generation of Black people to see their Ancestors flourishing and loving life through visual arts. I aim to capture nostalgia with my photos. When people view my photos I want them to feel as if they took a step back in time. I want them to be evoked w/ the same emotion they felt when the photo was being taken. When your mammaries fade I want my photos to bring those memories back to life.
What type of photography do you prefer?
The photography work I prefer/love to shoot is Music, Concerts, Behind The Scenes, Events, and Studio work.
Have you experienced any barriers in the industry that you think could not have been experienced by men?
Barriers I can consciously pinpoint in the industry that could not have been experienced by men are not being taken seriously/doubting that my work will be fired/ surprised when I can spit game about photography/ lack of inclusive opportunities. I would like to emphasize that I have been fortunate and privileged to have support from many Black-Men photographers in this industry. I know this is not the case for all BWP but I am blessed to be surrounded by a tribe of Black Men & Black Women Photographers who have pushed down barriers to provide me opportunities, knowledge, and advice. I am forever grateful for the spaces they have created for me to feel seen in this industry.
Have you done any collaborations with other women of color in photography?
I have done many collaborations with many Black and Brown Women in photography from assisting on sets, brainstorming ideas, providing opportunities, and more. I always try to make it a conscious effort to collaborate with my community.
What do you think is needed to inspire more women of color to pursue photography as a career option?
What I think is needed to inspire more Black and Brown women to pursue photography is visibility, community, and opportunity. Visibility fosters representation. When we are visible it can inspire the next upcoming Black/Brown Photographers. Community creates a sense of belonging. When you have a healthy community of people who are in the same field as you it offers support, guidance, and motivation. The opportunity allows for Black & Brown Photographers to become more visible and allows us to make a living off of the work we love to do.
Can you please share some of your career highlights so far?
In college, I had the opportunity to shoot for the Chan-Zuckerberg Foundation highlighting students in the Atlanta University Center involved in tech. I also worked on set with artist Rico Nasty capturing BTS & shooting her single cover for her song OHFR. I’ve also worked Westside Gunn’s cover for his Flygod is an Awesome God 2. One of my images was featured in the Trap Music Museum and I’ve also captured Michelle Williams for a magazine cover. Becoming a part of the Cam Kirk Studios team( Photography studio in ATL). This studio played a big role in my photography career. Photos are featured in a 2-page spread for an independent photobook project called BRING MUSIC HOME focusing on music venues affected by COVID 19.
You can follow Kai’s work on https://www.kaitsehay.com/ or follow her on Instagram @kaitsehay.
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