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I first met JerSean Golatt in 2013.
I was just beginning to develop my company and, as a stroke of good fortune, I had the opportunity to meet and witness JerSean's artistic growth throughout that year.
When it came time to launch my company, JerSean came aboard and shot our first six or seven releases into mid-2014. And, in doing so, he firmly established our tone, style, and aesthetic in a manner that I could've only dreamed to accomplish in the months prior.
In the years since, I've had the pleasure of watching JerSean's presence grow. From his artistic skill to his efforts in the community (and his identity as a father), it's been a phenomenal journey. (I mean, he was literally featured by Apple last week.)
So, with the relaunch of Rye 51, I had to take the opportunity to have JerSean as one of our guests and to learn a little more about his life and work.
Matt Alexander: Before we dive into everything about you now, tell me a little about your background? Are you from Dallas originally?
JerSean Golatt: I'm not from Dallas I'm actually from the Bay Area in California. I'm the oldest of five siblings. We moved to Dallas in 2005.
Matt Alexander: When did you first pick-up a camera? Did you know immediately that it was something you’d pursue as a career?
JerSean Golatt: I remember the first time I took a photograph.
I was living in West Oakland and my dad had just bought a little point and shoot camera. (At the time, it was the equivalent of having the newest Apple product.)
I took a photo of a flower that my mom had planted in our garden. At that point, I didn't know I'd pursue photography as a career, but I did know I liked that photo — and that feeling — a lot.
Matt Alexander: Your photography has been featured in all manner of publications and the like. But, just this past week, it was featured by Apple. How does that feel?
JerSean Golatt: Man, I'm a little numb to it, if I'm honest.
I've been doing a huge amount of work over the past year. From strengthening my personal branding to an intense process of self-discovery, I feel like I'm only just beginning to find my voice as an artist.
And, as a result, there have been some big wins this year. Like, as you mentioned, being featured by Apple.
For me, though, I'm finding it more surreal to just contemplate what it took for me to get to this point in my career.
Matt Alexander: What’re you currently working on? Do you self-identify as a photographer or do you think of yourself, more broadly, as a creator of all sorts?
JerSean Golatt: Currently I'm in bed recovering from a huge week.
My mom, Josette Golatt, a fashion designer, recently finished a new collection she's been developing. It's the first full collection she's produced since I began to take photography seriously.
So, I've just started to produce my first editorial shoot featuring my mom's clothing, which is an amazing feeling.
As far as how I self-identify, I suppose I'd like to think of myself as an artist. I dabble in a variety of mediums. And I'm hoping to experiment with more.
Matt Alexander: As an off-shoot of your photography, you’re working on an amazing new project, BLACKLOVE. Tell me a little bit about the genesis of that concept? Where do you see it going from here?
JerSean Golatt: 2016 was a long year for me.
It was long for many reasons. One in particular, though, was the rise of images of people of color being gunned down or killed by the police. This affected me deeply being that I'm a person of color.
So, on my road to self-discovery, I took an identity mapping course led by a dear friend Rocky Garza, founder of Staff Retreat Co. His advice for me — prior to the BLACKLOVE project even being a thought in my head — was to try to refrain from posting statuses on Facebook and focus upon how I could craft a photograph that might be able to articulate my thoughts.
I didn't have any idea how I was going to do that but I kept my eyes open and looked for opportunities that would give me a way to channel that energy.
A few months later, I attended a festival, Afro Punk, where I decided to photograph all the couples I saw there. It was a beautiful project. And it birthed the concept for doing it on an ongoing basis.
Since then, I've decided to photograph inspiring people of color who are in love, in whatever form that might take. I'll be assembling them in a photo book one day soon.
For now, I'm sharing the stories on our blog. So far, we've featured five Dallas couples. I look forward to sharing more.
Matt Alexander: What does 2017 look like for you?
JerSean Golatt: I plan on taking my fashion-related work more seriously by shooting more personal projects.
And tell more BLACKLOVE stories.
Aside from those, my kids every other weekend.