If the energy and enthusiasm exuded by Travelista TV’s Teri Johnson (NYC) via email was any indication of what was to come, I knew I had to prepare myself for a bundle of energy and nothing less. Teri contacted me to produce new images for her amazing and informative travel brand, a task she would complete during a visit to Nassau, Bahamas. Needless to say, I was not disappointed as I met Teri and she told me her goals for what she wanted to achieve. Teri already had close connections to The Bahamas as her good friend Latoya Moxey, (who happens to be a friend/client of mine) told her of my work initially and recommended me for this project. Teri stated that once she saw my portfolio, she felt compelled to contact me and bring her vision to life.
To capture the full essence of what Teri envisioned, I put together a team and called on stylist, Lavonne Alexis of ShoptheCC to assist me. Of course with Lavonne’s extraordinary energy and work ethic, we created looks for Teri that combined Teri’s southern background with her jet setting lifestyle and love for fashion.
I chose the beautiful Love Beach in Nassau on which to photograph “The Travelista” and with my team behind me, she rocked every look highlighted with jewelry from DVK and Jason Fish (NYC) as well as sponsored swimwear from Allure Swimsuit Boutique and designer Rich McCoy.
Teri took some time out to do a short interview while on set. Here’s what she had to say:
1. How did you come up with the name Travelista™?
When my friend and business partner Andrea and I decided to create our own travel web video show seven years ago, we called ourselves “The TravelGirls”. We were using that name for a few years but we were forced to come up with a new name because there was already a magazine called TravelGirl and we would never be able to trademark TravelGirls and use it commercially.
After a few months of racking our brains to come up with a better name, I happened to be on a flight from Los Angeles to NYC reading a magazine where words ending in “ista”, kept popping up like Fashionista and Barista. I knew immediately that we should call ourselves “The Travelistas”and operate using the Travelist TV platform.
2. What does the brand represent?
A Travelista is a woman who loves to travel and explore the world. She is curious about other cultures and people, she enjoys speaking other languages, sampling various cuisines and meeting interesting and fascinating characters. She is open minded, a global citizen, and loves to look good, especially when she travels. A Travelista combines the style and grace of jetsetters from the 60’s with a fun, adventurous twist that makes her stand out wherever she goes.
3. What brought you down to the Bahamas?
I came to the Bahamas to visit Nassau, write about my experience and to learn more about what’s in store over the next eight months for Paradise Island. I was amazed to see how much growth and expansion is taking place in the real estate and resort market and what this means for US and international tourism.
I also decided to come to Nassau to do a photo-shoot with photographer, Scharad Lightbourne. I needed to update images for my Travelista Teri brand and I felt as though the Bahamas was a perfect backdrop for me because I feel at home here and have an immense love for the Caribbean. Although born and raised in Houston, Texas, I happen to be an island girl at heart who is used to the heat, friendly people and good food, all which are plentiful in the Bahamas.
Prior to last year, I had never had my own web presence apart from Travelista TV and the shows I’ve done for BET, TVOne and Huffington Post. I knew I needed to create my unique web presence that reflects my passion for inspiring people to live better and travel more. From tips on how to look like a rock star when you travel to how to correctly pronounce French wine, I strive to provide my audience with tools, tips and destination highlights in an entertaining video format.
4. Tell us about the shoot?
My dear friend Latoya Moxey, a Bahamian swimwear designer and entrepreneur, referred Scharad Lightbourne and after seeing links to his work; I was determined to shoot with him. I believed in his ability to capture my personality and the essence of Travelista.
The shoot went amazingly well. Scharad’s team of professionals made my job very easy. As a director and producer of my own show, I am usually in charge of production in almost every project I do, but for this photo-shoot, I was able to relax and let Scharad and his talented team run the show. I was extremely comfortable and felt as though I was working with people I’d known for years.
Prior to our initial phone conversation, he watched a few of my Travelista videos and had detailed branding and style questions for me to answer. I knew he got it when he sent a Pinterest Inspiration board with looks that were perfectly in alignment with my brand.
6. How do you think the branding and new images will enhance you as a travel personality?
With my new images and branding, I am confident that I will get a boost in my profession as a travel host and spokesperson. My new look will not only translate well for travel and tourism brands, but for fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. I was fortunate enough to have been selected as the pro-bono client for the Studio NYC, a digital and animation company, whose summer interns are using their creativity to do a brand overhaul for me. The combination of their work on my logo, color scheme, and animation combined with my new photos by Scharad, I know I am truly blessed to have a powerhouse behind me. With my series on the TravelChannel.com launching later this summer and my current role as the spokesperson for Hampton Hotels, the timing for my new look could not have come at a better time.
I was nervous about this concept…at first. I wondered if I would go too far in getting a message across and if people wouldn’t relate or grasp what I was trying to say as a photographer. As a child I’d always seen the portrayal of “Eve” as a beautiful Caucasian woman so my imagination got the best of me and I decided to go against all the imagery I had previously seen in any biblical illustration.
I wanted to stay clean, within my style, conceptualizing elements that would add to my overall canvas. If Eve were a black woman, what would she look like? Would she be tall, short, skinny or fat? Would her hair be natural, straight, up or down? How would I show her creation, her temptation, her becoming more aware of herself and body?
To do this I put together a group of talented and visionary people in the industry that I felt would carry this concept like it was their own. Creative director, David Rolle pieced the looks together for Eve, orchestrating hair and makeup to follow. MUA, Mandisa Kerr worked her magic brush craftily added the right accents and contours to our models face. Hair stylist, Jameelah Thompson along with her assistant Lovena Magloire created amazing crowns of hair to place on our model that fit the theme.
As expected finding a model to play the role of Eve had its challenges. Because of the reptilian element, many models were skeptical about the representation or meaning behind a very recognizable prop. Selvinique Wright however was down the second I was finished explaining the concept to her. She was in and that was all. On set she moved her body and shaped her poses into works of soft and sultry sentences allowing David to form her into the character “Eve.”
When a NBA team wins a championship two years back to back, they call it a “repeat,” and that’s exactly how I felt getting a second opportunity to shoot the new summer collection from BAHARI Bahamas. The young but already iconic brand burst onto the scene only a year ago but already they have been operating at full speed and are now releasing their second collection.
When Bahari first launched, people fell in love with the vibrant colors, patterns and styles and felt like finally, this was truly a brand that stood out and accurately represented Bahamian people. This Summer 15 collection proved to be no different. I got a first hand sneak peak at the new lines months before we photographed them. The brand’s creative director Morgan Fernander was very open to my opinion and suggestions on what type of campaign could we create to truly capture the summer line.
Working with Scharad on our summer 15 campaign was even more exciting than we had imagined. The stakes were much higher this time, our company grew tremendously since we first worked with Scharad; so everything about our Summer campaign had to be Bigger & Better.
His enthusiasm and receptiveness to our big ideas, and grandiose concepts made for a memorable experience and campaign. The end result was an Ad Campaign filled with pure, unadulterated BAHAMIAN EPICNESS! -Morgan Fernander
Seeing the multi colored polos, dynamic print body con dresses, tanks and bodysuits increased my excitement. I couldn’t wait to shoot the new products! Freeport, Grand Bahama set the scene once again and we locked in a private location, complete with a personal yacht to use at our disposal. Our models were equally as excited about the pieces and our team of hair and makeup were ready to hit the ground running. We shot nearly a full day but it was so worth it!
Images: Scharad Lightbourne
Creative Direction: Morgan Fernander
Styling: Bennae Beneby
Models: Kylie Shenique, Rosetta Cartwright, Nisham Davis, Benniko Beneby
Hair: Olympia Lightbourne
MUA: Gail McIntosh
Alithia has been a big supporter of my photography when I first jumped onto the scene almost 10 years ago! She was always one of those admirers in the shadows she said but one day she was perusing my website and sent me a Facebook message saying;
“Scharad!!!!! I’m engaged! You KNOW I can’t let anyone else shoot my engagement photos but you right? Can we meet today?”
I laughed and replied “Sure,” because she was so certain that I’d had time to meet her on the spot. Nevertheless we met up at Avista Longue, downtown and had a long conversation about love, life and her big day. She was so excited, I think we talked for almost 4 hours!
She told me about her fiance and how she wanted really nice photos for their save the date and wedding website and she didn’t want it to be too stuffy with props and unnecessary things, she just wanted their engagement images to be about “them.”
We had a site inspection and I went crazy over this location and its surrounding landscape. So many intimate spaces with great natural light and so on the day of the shoot, I only used a diffuser and reflector to cast light onto them. Hair, makeup and wardrobe were really simple and clean and my team as always performs well. I enjoyed shooting this couple and their engagement images portray that.
MUA: T’s Artistry
Hair: Aline Charles
Grips: Kenton Ferguson, Malik Smith
Keith’s Accessories: The Pico Brand
When I initially met Jia, it was business as usual. She was a client who wanted unique and creative images to celebrate her recent engagement to her fiancé Jansen. Jia wanted to do something fun and she stressed how important that was to her. In our meeting we worked around several ideas that fit her and Jansen’s personality and when she mentioned that they frequented the cinemas often, my mind started to race. I asked myself, “I wonder if Galleria would let us shoot in the theatre?” Jia was equally as excited and she said that she’d find out and get back to me.
In a few weeks, I heard from Jia, proud to say that the MGR had approved the request! We were good to go, we just had to pick the day and time to shut the theatre down! Well…not really, we had to shoot early morning before the cinema opened, so we weren’t operating on boss status but it was good enough for me.
The morning of the shoot, MUA, Sarsha Taylor showed up a few minutes before the rest of the team had and she already begun prepping Jia for makeup. Once we got inside the theatre, the attendants were already cleaning up and putting out the everyday amenities of the cinema, which I knew before hand, would make excellent props. Hair stylist, Aline Cassandra worked Jia’s hair into a whimsical style matching Sarsha’s beautiful makeup application. Jansen was very pleased!
The theatre staff were very excited. They had never seen a photoshoot in the cinema before and were all curious as to how it would come out, so they were very accommodating, providing everything we asked for. We shot behind the concession stand, next to mountains of popcorn; we used movie posters and an actual theatre. Overall it was a lot of fun and a great experience.