Missed the public newsroom? Watch the recording here on 14 East’s YouTube.
On November 1, 14 East Magazine had the pleasure of hosting Chicago-based artist, photographer, and director Isaiah Easter. A DePaul alumnus, he has worked with organizations such as Chicago Votes and the Urban Football League, capturing stories, both still and in motion, of those looking to make change in their communities.
Currently, Easter works as a project manager at the storytelling platform Gumbo Media. Describing himself as a firm believer in challenging oppressive systems and institutions through education and creativity, he hopes that his work can aid in expanding the ways we create art to serve and uplift marginalized communities. During our talk, he dropped countless gems and gave truth to the power of art. In case you missed it, we’ve compiled five things we learned from our time with this creative and insightful artist.
Embrace the imperfections.
During the newsroom, Easter opened up about how imperfections have been a necessary part of his artistic progression. Not everyone is going to get the perfect shot, poem or painting on the first try. You have to make mistakes to eventually make beauty, so be gentle with yourself and don’t be afraid to mess up.
Tell the stories that are important to you.
While speaking with us, Easter mentioned the importance of centering communities that are influential in an individual’s daily life. He demonstrated this by showing us his collection of photographs of the Urban Football League, a Black soccer collective in Chicago. These photographs show the power of Black joy and are representative of his drive to represent the “beauty of Black life,” which is an underrepresented category in photography. “I’m trying to uplift the message of whoever the subject is with care and compassion,” he said.
Remain a student.
One of my personal favorite moments of the newsroom was listening to Easter describe all of the incredible artists who have inspired him along the way. He advised us to “always be learning.”
He specifically discussed his desire to begin capturing images of people with disabilities: “I feel like there isn’t enough talk about folks who are living with a disability, and I think that there needs to be a lot more media, and content pushed for folks who are experiencing living with disability,” he said.
Find your inspiration.
When asked about the things that inspire his photography, Easter had an astute response: “I think that the things that got me inspired and the things that got me wanting to make photography and wanting to shoot were different before than they are now. You know like, before it was, hey, I have this idea and this image that I can’t get out my head and I want to create that and I want to explore what this meaning might be, or see if it has a concept to it. But then, like, later on, it could be, ‘Hey, I just have a homie who needs some photos for his hat brand,’ or something like that. That work that I’m doing in my approach to the word that inspires me to create more, so I try to put myself in a position to be inspired.”
Get connected with a field of your interest.
Easter advised the newsroom attendees interested in pursuing photography to find paths that cater to their passions. “What I would suggest for folks, is to find an interest outside of just photography itself, and what your subjects are. I just completed a sports photography fellowship with Gumbo Media’s sister company Gumbo Fit. They partnered with Nike Chicago and they were specifically targeted towards uplifting people of color specifically to get more into the realm of sports photography,” he said.
Header Image by Audrey Dwyer