The Weekly Round-up: Photography Classes in Baltimore & Washington, DC

Learning photography has been really random for me. I started out googling articles and watching YouTube photography gurus like Peter McKinnon. I found helpful tips and became completely obsessed with the rule of thirds. You could catch me, at any given occasion, placing grid lines over subjects and marveling at the glory of the picture. At that time I didn’t have my DSLR. I was shooting with my S8 camera phone and hand plenty of time to train my eye and play with composition. At the time I didn’t realize it, but it forced me to search for the moment rather than doing the orchestrating folks tend to do with lighting, filters, camera settings, post editing and all that jazz. I didn’t even have the technology to do any of that back then. But now that I have a DSLR (Nikon D3400), I’ve dipped my big toe into the technical space, which can be super intimidating if you’re learning, like me. Think icy cold water on an already chilly day! It’s a LOT. I prefer to do a blend of self-curated learning and workshops. Being on my own for this journey makes it more personal for me — and that’s something I never want to lose. But for me, participation in a community is a major bonus in my learning process. So, of course I want to meet other photography enthusiasts to exchange our excitement and passion for it all. I like to deep dive; I’m a Gemini. Stepping into a new community has made the learning process even more gratifying. If you’re looking to get photography training in the Baltimore or Washington, DC areas, you might try hitting up one of these classes. I’ll start by saying that classes are far from cheap. But if you’ve purchased a DSLR, then you understand that photography can be an expensive hobby. Below, you’ll see a listing of photography classes and workshops for any wallet.

Baltimore

Photography Classes in Baltimore & Washington, DC

MICA – Maryland Institute College of Art $$

I’m not sure about you guys but taking a course at MICA would be dreamy for me. They pump ALL the life into Baltimore’s arts scene. MICA’s community Education Course List offers two photography classes. The Digital Darkroom is a ten week course tailored for people who are learning to develop technical and creative skills. Students will have the opportunity to examine historical photographs and develop a sense of their personal photography style. Large Format Photography is a more advanced course exploring the significance and long-standing tradition of the view camera in photography.

The Photo Workshop $
This place is more low -key and has beginner workshops covering all the technical details of DSLR photography. In all honesty, if you’re really passionate about your practice, you’ll learn all this stuff on your own. You could hit up Barnes and Noble and just walk yourself through the photography section and pick a ‘how to’ book to get you started here. But the Photo Workshop also offers off-site photography classes at some super photographic places like The Cylburn Arboretum and Rawlings Conservatory.

Washington, DC

Photography Classes in Baltimore and Washington, DC
Focus on The Story X-Pedition Trip to Havana, Cuba Photocred: David Hobby

Focus on The Story $$$$

Guys, this spot has some pretty cool immersive photography trips through their X-Pedition Workshops. I’m actually saddened to see that the Cuba trip with David Hobby is less than a month away. I definitely would’ve gone! They have a X-Pedition trip to Hanoi in August that I might look into. These classes literally offer you an opportunity to travel with trained photographers and, in the case of the Hanoi X-Pedition, local residents. What an awesome way to learn to approach your photography like a photojournalist would!

Sam D’Amico Photography $

This spot offers one-on-one study and group classes. You can even opt in for an ongoing monthly practice and support meetings. This is a unique opportunity because I haven’t seen this offered anywhere else. This place also has a wide range of classes. You can focus on the technical or the conceptual aspects of your photography.

Capital Photography Center $

There is symmetry for days in DC and if you’re shooting here you’ve probably noticed that by now. Capital Photography Center offers onsite classes and workshops as well as off-site shooting sessions at some pretty cool locations like the National Arboretum and Renwick Gallery.

I’m off to my day job but drop me a line if you’e hit any of these classes or have some cool workshop opportunities to share!

The “Real Food” Farm|Quenching Baltimore’s Food Desert

We’ve gotta talk about this ’cause the thirst is real. Open scene…”My stomach is eating a hole through my back”. I could simplify that saying with one word–“hangry” (no typo). “Hanger” may run up on you after a long day at the office when your only nourishment has been a coffee and a pack of mixed nuts courtesy of the mini snack bar in the breakroom at work. It normally happens when you’ve been savagely focused on a project and you opt out of a lunch break because…well, you’re floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee and you wanna flex on every-damn-body with your presentation in tomorrow’s meeting. Justifiably, you skip a meal but you’ve pushed it to the limit and by the time you set your sights on a food, you’d pretty much eat an entire cow. Any cow. It can be a cow covered in poo, a cow with ten eyes, a cow dipped in dextrose or a cow glazed in sugar. “Get in my belly!” is all you can think.

For most of us who live in Black and Brown neighborhoods, healthy food options are few and far between.

For myself and others, getting to the “hangry” state is pretty risky business. I mean, I do my darndest to make sure “hanger” doesn’t creep up on me because I tend to make thee worst food choices when I’m famished. I’m talking a Popeyes and KFC. Why? Because their proximity is convenient (walking distance from my job). I’m ashamed but look at my situation. Let’s say I wanted to grab a fresh smoothie or a salad, right. My options are limited to fast food smoothies (a joke), fast food salads (yuck and also comical) and grocery store salad bar salads (also yucky and germy). Often times, I end up grabbing a piece of fruit to hold me over until I get home. Once I’m home, I toil over a meal for about an 1.5 hours before I eat the food my body is so desperately in need of. The willpower required to bypass all of the sweet and salty fast food-immeasurable. Honestly, sometimes I fail, even though the consequences have proven to be lethal.

See the difference in mortality rates based just on popular food items in neighborhoods in Baltimore City below.

fooddesertsfinal2

But let’s rewind, real quick. To a time when I worked in Southside Jamaica, Queens and I was in an extreme food desert. In NYC I had no car and I used my feet and Metro card to get around. In Jamaica, every store within a 10 minute walking radius of my job was either fried chicken, pizza or a dollar store. I remember my boss eating a slice of cheese pizza, cheetos and a gatorade for lunch every day and thinking to myself “How is he alive right now?”. I mean, the calories were there but the nutrients were not. “Who could survive off of that type of diet?” I asked myself. The answer is–lots of us do. We satisfy our hunger for the moment but in the long run, we’re slowly killing ourselves. In impoverished neighborhoods, there are lots of people who rely on public transportation to move about their daily lives. But who is going to hop on a bus to get food when you can walk right up to the Chinese restaurant on your block and order an egg roll, four chicken wings, french fries and a soda for $4.75. Save the bus fare and save the hike, right? That’s why I was so elated when I noticed The “Real Food Farm” parked across the street from my job today. “Real Food Farm” works toward a just and sustainable food system by improving neighborhood access to healthy food, providing experience-based education, and developing an economically viable, environmentally responsible local agriculture sector. Yep, most of their produce is grown right here in Baltimore and tended to by the hands of those who live here. They’re also stocked with produce from local farmers. I snagged some delicious watermelon from Black Dirt Farm, a black owned farm, on the Eastern Shore. Sweet! That was actually two birds with one stone because I’ve been trying to support Black-owned business when I can.

It’s wonderful to know that there are initiatives like Civic Works’ “Real Food Farm” that prioritize people who really need the access, education and opportunities. Yep, in addition to the mobile food truck, you’ve got the opportunity to take your school group for a visit to their Clifton Park farm to see how all the juicy goodness is grown right out of our Baltimore soil. Educational opportunities like this are made possible by donors and volunteers who devote their time to making healthy lifestyles a possibility for all.

The best part? The Real Food Farm accepts EBT! Yep, there’s no excuse not to grab up this healthy goodness as an alternative to all the yuck that is strewn about the neighborhood.

Oh! There are volunteer opportunities if you’re interested.

This Saturday Oct. 1st is the 14th Annual Ricky Myers Day Of Service

Join in at the Clifton Mansion to earn your $5 credit towards Real Food Farm produce! Register at civicworks.com/dayofservice.

Do you guys shop locally for your produce? Do you have your own garden? Do tell below!

The 411|Dedication Day At Smithsonian’s African American History Museum

Your Black card was certified VIP status all weekend if you didn’t know! Once again my Blackness has me beaming with pride and regality. And by once again, I do mean for the second time in my adult life (first time was POTUS’ inauguration). Moments like these are so few and far between for us. Insert afro pat and two snaps because, honey, I was there. From the massive bronze crown of a building to the Middle Passage exhibit, nestled on the ground floor of the museum, our story is being told to all who are listening and even those who’d rather tune us out. I am Black, I am African American, my people were slaves and we are the blocks that built this nation. Our inclusion on the grand American stage, the national mall, is long overdue!

The day kicked off with an inspiring speech from the POTUS himself. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last 48 hours, I shared the video of his speech below. My POTUS spoke about patriotism and activism in our country, a conundrum for many African Americans whose history traces back to a time where our people were three fifths of a man only to assist the south’s political representation in the house. How are we to be patriots when our men, women and children are still shot down in the streets? I admire how eloquently POTUS delivers all of his speeches but this one in particular spoke to a feeling I’ve had for as long as I’ve known I was a great, great grandchild of a slave. See what I mean below.

The museum was designed in chronological order from the bottom up. Museum guides will urge you to explore in that order and I’d agree. 

It begins with an emotional journey through the middle passage on the bottom floor. I happen to be a history/slave narrative enthusiast. I’ve always had an unyielding thirst for knowledge of my people’s experiences. The slave narratives sufficed for a while but seeing items recovered from slave shipwrecks and seeing the detailed brutality and greed of the transatlantic slave trade will rock you. You’ll start your emotional journey there and each exhibit will move you further down the timeline of the African American experience. 

Bring kleenex.

We could never fully understand the horrors of their journey or the depth of their loss but the exhibit does a heck of a job at telling the story of how we came here. It was a brutal and heinous crime against humanity. That much is felt and asserted through this exhibit.

The reason you look like your Nigerian  and Ghanaian sista friends? It’s because your ancestors were more than likely from ancient Akan or Benin.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve asked yourself the daily question “Where EXACTLY in Africa are my roots?”  While we’ll never know the exact location, a general  answer would be western coastal African nations. A simple google search will supply you with this information but the museum shares certain customs that were carried across the ocean and continued in different slave states. For example, black folks from the Carolinas generally came from ancient Akan and Benin, modern day Nigeria and Ghana  and their traditions were continued in those regions of America. You’ll learn about the fusion of African customs into western societies in both North and South America. Sweet! 

Be prepared for your “gangsta” to be tested.

My absolute favorite part of my visit was exploring the civil rights exhibit which is modeled in the form of a “sit-in”. One the menu? Six forms of activism that were instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement. Take the Freedom Rides for example. Those brave young men and women who risked their lives to venture into dangerous territory to bring about equality. This exhibit walks you deeper and deeper into the cost of each movement. How much would you have wagered? To what extent were you willing to go? What was your freedom worth? What sacrifices were you willing to make? It’s so easy to say what we would’ve done but you might sing a different tune once you’ve experienced this exhibit. Were you a peaceful protester alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or would you meet fire with fire in the ranks of the Black Panther Movement?

THIS OR THAT?

giphy-3

giphy-2

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself torn between movements? You’ll consider your family or maybe even your future. What if you die in the fight? What type of life will you grandchildren have if you don’t put an end to the bullshit today? What type of life will you have if you don’t fight for your rights? What use will your education be if the color of your skin can stop you from advancing your career and providing for your family? How far are you willing to go for your people? How badly do you want to vote? To live as a 2nd class citizen or to die fighting for quality…those were the questions.

Your voice will be heard here.

I just revel in the opportunity to speak on the many issues affecting black and brown folks in this country and abroad. Whoever had the awesome idea of placing video booths all over the museum–you da man! These were a huge hit with me. I recorded my raw feelings inside of the civil rights exhibit. Peep the video below. I never intended to post it because I was fumbling quite a bit but it’s myself and a friend answering in the most raw form to prompts within the booth…

Ooh, I got cut off but you see where I was going with it, right? My activism stems from the fact that my younger cousin was killed by police. My activism is also in honor of the many men and women who are wrongfully convicted or handed harsher prison sentences than whites who’ve committed the same crime. My activism is rooted in improving the education of our children and increasing the access to healthy foods in Black communities. I could go on for hours so I plan on adding more to my reflection during my next visit. If vlogging is not your thing…

You can contemplate in the Contemplative Court.

This photo does it absolutely no justice but this fountain puts me in a Star Trek realm where teleportation is possible and Scottie just beamed me back to the Amistad. I’m there, I’m witnessing everything first-hand, I’m thinking, I’m reflecting. I’m envisioning my ancestors…scared, lonely and fearful of what’s to come. I’m watching centuries of tears and oppression. Man, it gets deep in there. Allow yourself to feel what you’ve just experienced.

You won’t get through the entire museum in one visit.

A one day visit will scrape the surface but you won’t get it all. You’ll need to double back once the fanfare has cooled off and you’re free to move about at your leisure. I know, you want to go during opening week. It’s a big deal and you want to be a part of all the excitement BUT trust me when I say, wait a few months. Let the crowds thin a little if you’re traveling from afar and want to savor the experience.

That’s all folks! Oh, I wanted to leave you with these two really cool keepsakes I got just by riding the train and showing up to the museum. My “Dedication Day” pin and my “Celebrating A Cultural Legacy” metro card donned with the Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership.

20160925_222627

Yawl, this weekend felt so good to be Black! Love, Peace & Afro Grease!

Feature|Founder Of N’Joy Eats & Prep Transformed Her Life Through Diet & Exercise

One super dope aspect of my wellness journey is that I’ve crossed paths with some pretty amazing women of every shade, age and faith. From the elderly women who faithfully attend their Silver Sneakers class at my gym every morning to the fit IG beauties that share their stories with the world. One of my favorite IG inspirations is Indiana based Chef Shay of N’Joy Eats & Prep. Her transformation is bomb and she inspires others to lead a healthy lifestyle through her exercise, meal prep and nutrition expertise.

img_1957

Chef Shay of N’Joy Eats & Prep

Ok, so it was so hard for me to choose the best photos because everything looks so good. These are just a few examples of Shay’s meal prep. Nutrition is so extremely important for us all but ESPECIALLY for those of us whose goal it is to lose weight. You know how the saying goes: You cannot outwork a bad diet. Like…it will never happen. You have to swap out the bad foods with better ones. You have to lower your caloric intake. If you need more proof than what I am telling you, please keep scrolling to Shay’s story below…

“When I saw the picture I not only saw the weight loss but I saw the pain and unhappiness I had been carrying for years. I had finally tapped into my JOY and I was never looking back.” – Chef Shay

njoyeatsnprep_transformation_junkfit

“Hi you can call me Chef Shay .I am 26 years old straight from Jersey. I’m very excited about working with Junk Fit! I am a certified nutritional advisor and chef. I began my healthy journey after dealing with some challenges in my life that rocked at my self image and happiness. I am now down 6 dress sizes, able to hold my head high, and live life the way I want to. Once I set a plan for myself and took an active role in my life; my goals began to manifest. Cooking healthy meals is fun and rewarding because I never see it as a diet. I love teaching clients and their families how to incorporate healthy eating to their lifestyles. I believe Junk Fit encompasses all that I practice and teach in my daily life. It is a platform to uplift our community by providing them with the tools and skills that will upgrade their wellness. Staying in shape is an added bonus to the lifestyle. I’ve also just recently obtained my Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mental wellness definitely plays a significant role in how we treat our bodies. Exercising and eating clean can definitely benefit our cognitive perception of ourselves. I am so honored to be a part of an organization such as JUNK FIT that makes all that we teach engaging and fun!

Challenges: The first challenge was identifying why I wanted to lose weight. At first it was because I didn’t find myself pretty enough. I hated taking pictures, I hated trying on clothes, I hated my stomach etc. I thought I would be prettier and more confident if I just lost 10 lbs. I had to fall in love with myself first. I had to build on my confidence and not look for validation from other’s. I had to explore why I had chosen food as a comfort to begin with. I had chosen bad food as a comfort, because there were voids in my life .Grief and an unhealthy long term relationship were the little demons I had to address. Once I began addressing and fixing those issues, I naturally began improving. I wasn’t weighing myself anymore. All I wanted to do was be active because I love the thrill of competing and challenging my body. People gave me compliments as the weight fell off and it surprised me until I took a picture of myself. When I saw the picture I not only saw the weight loss but I saw the pain and unhappiness I had been carrying for years. I had finally tapped into my JOY and I was never looking back.

Advice: Stop investing in spanx, pills and control tops and get yourself in the gym and in the kitchen. Stop making excuses about your weight, no one cares .Being in shape is not about vanity or attention. It is about upgrading and sustaining your life, so that you can enjoy life and the experiences. No Fad Diets just start letting go of foods that do more harm than good. Much Success!”

You can keep up with Chef Shay’s inspirational journey on Facebook, Instagram and via njoyeatsandprep.com.

xo,

Jazz

My Booty Might Wobble But It Won’t Fall Down

Chile. Last week felt so good. First of all, I got my butt back into the gym full swing. Like, every single weekday (plus a quickie on Saturday) AND I doubled back on two nights to train a new client and participate in my adult volleyball league as a “free agent”. I had to include that detail cause it makes me feel sort of like a highly sought after mega athlete. Lol.

Do yall see me? I mean do yall see me though?

giphy

I am not a football fan but it is football season so what the heck, right. Long story short, my restart is no longer a restart. I’m in this bihhh! All in. The crazy thing is I’ve always been “in“, but I wasn’t “all in” this summer. Number one, I was feeling myself. You know how you get when your body is coming together and you begin to rest on your laurels. Yeah. That’s what happened in addition to the fact that summer ’16 was the pits for me. But I’m back like I never left. Who’s with me? I’m so excited about my restart that I just can’t keep it to myself. Below, you’ll find the details of my everyday leg routine. You should also follow me on the gram where I post all my workout snippets.

By now you know there’s 2 things I don’t play about–my legs and booty.

I keep it tight or at least I try my darndest to (hence, this post’s title)! The conditioning and cardio portion of my leg workout is not for the faint at heart but it’s nothing you can’t complete or work towards. Complete with high intensity for the best burn. Keep Scrolling:

Stair runs x 3 (two flights)

20 step ups / leg (dumbells optional)

20 Box jumps (Mine are about 3 feet off the ground but go with what you're comfortable with)

40 Frog Leaps

90 sec rest
*Repeat 5 times

Why am I so leg focused? Well, because we all have our problem areas, right? My legs are where my fat likes to hide. I like to seek it out and turn it into nice firm muscle. Simple.

But let’s discuss your booty, right quick.

Are you giving it the attention it deserves? Are you giving your workouts the attention they deserve? Are you giving yourself the attention you deserve? I mean, part of why I love working out is because it makes me feel good about myself. How are you feeling about your health and wellness? Are you keeping your junk fit? If not, what’s stopping you, girl? If tidying up your wellness corner is high on your list of priorities, why haven’t you committed yet? Like, really committed. Not gym membership commitment, but gym attendance commitment. You could have a litany of reasons but it really all boils down to the fact that you haven’t prioritized it. But if you think about it, you’re useless to anyone and anything else if you haven’t first taken care of your number one player…you.

Now let’s talk about how you can rearrange some things so that you are prioritizing yourself.

  1. Let it be known that this day henceforth, you are a servant of the queendom of (insert your fictional goddess name here). Mine used to be Princess Jasmine but I’ve transitioned to “Queen Jasmine Of JUNKFIT, Mother Of Peaks & Valleys”. Lol. You ARE a queen and your kingdom is your temple. If you don’t prioritize yourself, nobody else will. Show people how serious you are about becoming healthy! Don’t let people schedule you for anything else during your workout time. Tell your hubby that he’s got to hold down the fort while you hit the gym for an hour. Trust me, once people know it’s non-negotiable, they’ll respect your hustle and it’ll become easier to commit to.
  2. Place your workouts on your calendar. If you don’t take your workouts serious enough as it is, maybe it’ll help if you write them in with reminders and maybe even a description of what you’ll be doing in the gym or even a link to a workout via my blog ;-).
  3. Don’t let yourself out of it! This is SOOOO crucial. You have the angel on one shoulder and you have the devil on the other. To work out, or not to workout…that’s the big question. Allow the angel to guide and help you reach your goals. Don’t get into the habit of talking yourself out of things that you desire in your heart. You are worth the commitment, you can reach your goals, you can lose weight, you can gain muscle, you CAN and WILL look and feel amazing if you make the right choices.
  4. Eliminate unnecessary stress. You’ve got plenty on your plate, right? So do I. The trick is that I’ve slowly but surely learned to remove myself from situations that stress me the hell out. Like, seriously. I do it without even knowing it these days. The instant I’m stressing over something stupid or something that doesn’t contribute to the grand scheme of things, I bump that sucker right out of my life. Walking papers. Gone. This way, my mind space opens up and I’m more focused at work, getting things done at phantom speed. I actually begin to do even the simplest of things more quickly and seamlessly. Take blogging, for example…things move so much more quickly and my creative juices flow when I’m not stressed. Less stress means I approach my workouts in a totally different way.
  5. Don’t feel defeated. Look, I’ve fallen off at least 3 times in my fitness journey. For one reason or another, I just could not find the time or energy to do it. But that DOES NOT mean it is okay to completely stop or give up. So you were down to 150 and you went up to 170 once you started your new job?! Lose the weight again! That’s the beauty of life. Try again!

Anyway, gals and guys, I just wanted to share with you all how lit I’m feeling after my latest restart. Feel free to slide in my comments or even my inbox (lol) if you have comments, questions or anything.

Xo,

Jazz

 

 

 

Sigh. Another Day, Another Black Child Killed By Police

The year of 30 ushered in a certain heightened awareness of 1. My biological clock and 2. The possibility of birthing a Black man when I do decide to have children . Now, that’s not to say my finances, career and love life weren’t at the forefront of my thinking because they’ve always been. The year of 30 though…it made me think long and hard about my future children and what was in store for them.  Most women, White, Black or in between,  daydream about what their children will look and sound like. What their quirks will be or what type of personality they’ll have. Some think of how they’ll educate them (me) and how to make them well-rounded and empathetic (also me). On the contrary, most, if not all, black women wonder about the safety of their children, especially young boys, in addition to all the other motherly thoughts. This is something that, in America, I find is unique to only Black and Hispanic women. That’s true for those of us who are mothers and those of us who aren’t yet. It used to be that our brothers, uncles and fathers were our main subjects of concern. Now, that circle has expanded to include women, boys and even girls as young as 12. My thoughts didn’t stop there though.

I wondered, “What can I do to counter this?”. What would be the proper course of action for lil old me? What was within my scope of power and abilities? So. Just last week my students and I organized a first responders assembly to show our appreciation and gratitude for those whose duty it is to serve and protect our community. We hosted police officers, firefighters, and soldiers.  Although the assembly was rooted in remembrance of 9/11 and those who fell on that day, it was also about cultivating safe and friendly interactions between my students and their community police.

20160909_175842

East Baltimore Police, Firefighters and a US Army Sergeant all devoted their time to do the WORK in our community. Bigup!

It was my idea, they loved it, I loved that they loved it, and it was all gravy. That was until one of my students pulled me aside and asked why we haven’t acknowledged the Black Lives Matter movement.  My response was simple–“We will”. We most certainly will create a safe space for them to voice their outrage at what more and more feels like the slaughter of our people. Yep. We will. But I had to temper my emotions and if I’m being honest, I know it’s best for them to do the same.

Suffering a fatal gunshot wound at the hands of a police officer is a reality for Black children. It always has been–even when you’ve done nothing wrong. Even when you’re a child, playing alone in a park in broad daylight. Even if it feels like we’re villainized from birth and are herded into stereotypical categories that don’t even speak to our actual personalities or upbringing, we are the ones that must be decisive in our response to these matters. The burden falls on us to dictate how these interactions will go–it’s a matter of life or death. This is not to say that we can’t be mad. Hell, it’s not to say that we can’t be furious. It’s not to say that we won’t power through other avenues to receive justice and equality (salute to Black Lives Matter and other movers, shakers and policy makers who fight for justice daily). But we have to be smarter than ever when it comes to our children–our future. This is why it is so important that we do our part in reverse community policing.

community-policing

We gotta do our part to introduce police to our children on our terms. They should know and be familiar with our children. They should know that 13 year old Tyre was at a STEM school, that he was a boy’s boy, into bb guns, and sports. That he had hobbies that are consistent with the hobbies of millions of boys of ALL races. That Tyre and others that look, sound and act like him are human. They should know that he had his whole life ahead of him. While many of our blue brothers are in fact, doing the work, there are many of them who are not–so we have to. We have to bridge this disconnect.

I could go on and on about this. These are just a mashup of my immediate thoughts on this.I welcome thoughts and comments below. Solutions too. Sigh.