Memphis Artist | Kara Rodgers | Tennessee Portrait Photographer

Kara Rodgers. There are so many reasons why I wanted to photograph this woman. She was the first person I remember truly meeting at Fellowship Memphis, my current church. We were running across a street headed to a summer party last year. Cars were speeding around us, while I heard her say “I’m kara, whats your name?” It was so exciting to make a friend before I even walked in that door.

Then at a friend’s birthday jam party, Kara stood up to sing. We were all taken away as she sang from her soul.I wanted to capture Kara. Kara with all of her joy, soul, and creativity. Her dancing, singing, and expressing the incredible woman that she is! I have a passion to capture people who have never been in front of a professional camera. The experience of shattering any expectation they did have is just so much fun. I pulled out my speaker, and we jammed and danced for an hour or two downtown. I hope I captured at least a fraction of her radiance and authenticity.

Denzel Alexander | Men’s fashion in Memphis

Meet Denzel Alexander. The man behind Memphis’s only mens fashion blogger.

His blog began like some of the best creative pursuits do- in the midst of low season of life. Feeling alone within a crowd, Denzel discovered blogger Kelvin  Davis of NotoriouslyDapper. He was inspired by the style, the fun, and consistency found within Kevlin’s brand. After a year of following other bloggers and pin pointing looks from celebrities he wanted to start implementing, Denzel launched the DA blog Dec 1st, 2015. I asked him what words would describe those first few months.

Denzel: Amateur & hope. I was in the pursuit of a creative outlet in my life.

I met Denzel in 2016 at the cash register of H&M. I started the conversation about how their brand inspired me to dress more European. Before I knew it, Denzel had gotten me his card and we were friends. Within the week, I messaged him about a look-book I was filming the next week. The dude showed up in a parking garage without even knowing me basically. We still laugh about how sketch that was and how downhill it could have gone. But instead, we began a friendship founded on creative collaboration.

I wanted to feature Denzel this month because 1. We really needed a reason to finally get coffee again, and 2. When we chat, both of us leave on fire for memphis and creativity. He has such dreams. Denzel reminds me to dream big, and not to settle for what I can see realistically. One day, he wants to be living in a bigger city and at some point of his career have a role at GQ. Denzel Alexander the blog will continue through all his pursuits, as he wants it to transition with him through life. If you hit up his Instagram feed, you will see that talent and passion. He has such an eye for putting a color palette into action. Studying for a Creative Mass-Media degree, his passion for layout and design has been challenged and taken further. Below are different seasons from 2017 where he chose to focus on different colors/textures.

Personally, I choose comfort over fashion too often for my own good. I asked Denzel about that common battle with our age group/stage of life. What are his biggest tips for identifying a style, developing that look, and finding comfort. I also feel like with guys there is a thought of “I want to look good, but not look like I care too much”

Denzel: I just don’t think you can’t care too much. Self care is so important. Often, guys are insecure to take it to the next level. I would say start searching and finding people and celebrities who have the looks you want. Start taking little steps. Don’t dive into wearing suits every day. As you implement different pieces, it becomes more comfortable. As for finding your style, everyday you grow into a different person. Let how you feel that day decide. Its okay to wear colors the days you feel great and when you aren’t feeling it, wearing darker colors is okay! Be inspired by your own personality. To find your style, its important to embrace other’s styles as well. You see someone who don’t dress like you, just respect and appreciate their own look. Embrace the difference.

I completely agree with that. Once I graduated high school, I realized the judgment I hashed out over other peoples looks and styles was what limited me in my own. We all wanted to be different, yet only a few of us truly broke the trends. I was not one of them.

Now lets talk side hustles. In school and growing a brand/blog, what would be your advice?

Denzel: Planning ahead will get you so far. Engage with other people and take criticism. I hate taking criticism.  You start to learn to reflect on the words and not defend yourself.  Don’t just write off criticism  from someone who doesn’t know what you are doing or your style. They are your audience and follower.  Its actually really good to get criticism/advice from people who are completely outside of your industry.

I have loved watching Denzel grow into blogger he is! It has been a joy to be a part of Memphis Creative crowd.  I asked Denzel what his dream for Memphis’s blogger community is:

Denzel: From my stand point, I want even more of a diverse group. We need different style, different backgrounds. Our city is representative of the diversity, but we don’t see the together within creative community. We never see them working together. Collaborating. We have a lot of bloggers who all look and dress the same. 

I would love to connect more. I feel Memphis’s creatives are threatened by each other. I am the only male blogger, but I would love to be embraced and embrace other bloggers within Memphis. Embracing and encouraging their different and respect all our different styles. 

What about your vision for Memphis creative community?

Denzel: We have a bunch of grit and grind, but we are not exposed enough. Like people don’t get how incredible this city is! I want to see our reputation changed. An embracive diverse community. Let us be known for our art community and collaborative posture + attitude.

CHECK OUT DENZEL:

Instagram: @denzelalexander

Blog: DenzelAlexander

Twiter: @denzelalexander

Joshua Stephans | Web Designer

Hey friends! I wanted to make a short post to introduce my amazing web designer–who also happens to be my brother-in-law. This is Joshua Stephans!

Josh was born and grew up partially in Chicago before moving to Orlando. He transitioned to Tennessee in 2012 for a BA in Digital Media Communications at Union University. As well as gaining experience through classes, designing local coffee shop, concert, and school posters, he met his best friend and later wife at UU–my beautiful and talented sister, Elizabeth. Before they even dated, Josh and I would spend hours pushing each others’ creative boundaries and ideas. He was the first person to believe in Dancing Through Memphis, my very first passion project that ended up being a 5 month enterprise. His zeal for culture, stories, and craftsmanship never ceases to inspire me.

Elizabeth and Josh married in August of 2016 and having another creative in the family has been such a blessing. Josh is a graphic + web designer and overall creative based in Memphis, TN. He’s been a constant supporter, fellow dreamer, and best friend.

He helped me edit and build pieces of my current website during the months of 2016 + 2017, however as time went on, I started realizing how different my vision and brand had become. The idea of him being my web designer for a whole new site was exciting and terrifying.

Creative conflict can be a make-or-break situation. Josh has been an incredible listening ear, but also matched my dream with healthy debate. He has challenged me to keep things simple and clear, with the message that if you claim to be a storyteller, your story is not the one being focused on. I’ve radically changed my mindset on how to communicate my services and passion through his incredible design and wisdom. There was some silence over phone calls, clashing of vision, and frustration as expected. I’ve learned to fight for what I really believe is priority, and how to discuss things in a healthy way. 

Since building my first website on my own, I have dreamed of hiring a designer. Those who have fought tooth and nail with wordpress, wix, and squarespace…you feel me. I’ve been in tears, on the phone for hours, and still ended up with something far from my vision. It was SO frustrating. Josh allowed me to dream big and draw out my ideas on a paper. He literally made a website from those ridiculous chicken scratch sketches.

I’m beyond excited to launch this face to Emily Frazier Creative. It is a true work of art. Josh has put in time, creativity, research, and endless design. I am so thankful! It’s hard to hire a designer when you technically can DIY it, but this was money spent so well. I am so thankful I invested in his work.

JOSH’S LINKS

WEB: JOSHUASTEPHANS.COM

INSTA: INSTAGRAM.COM/JOSHUASTEPHANS

Stay tuned for Thursdays website launch at www.emily-frazier.com and the exciting giveaway on instagram.com/emilyjfrazier 

Rooftops | Memphis + New Friends

Its incredible how personalities work. How quickly you know if you are going to really like someone. Bre was one of those people for me. Within my first conversation, I knew she was just my kind of person. Chillax, hysterical, and loves Jesus. We really hadn’t had more then one or two conversations in person over the course of a year or two,  before she planned to come see me last month for a short weekend.

As a professional in the field of your passion, your freedom gets lost in the business. What was your hobby becomes a to do list. There is so much beauty and blessing in that, but I’m starting to see how I must protect my creative process. Reading Ben Sasso’s incredible blogpost, “Creative Manifesto” a few months back, I was already chatting it up with Bre about all my thoughts on the subject. He speaks so much truth in getting creative, loosening your standards, being free. Pushing yourself in unpaid situations. Bre, even from a far, was such an encouragement.  I asked if she would be a model one day for me. AND NOWWWW it has happened. Months later, here she was, in front of my camera. Even more fun and exciting then I could have dreamed. Bre, you are such a wonderful human. I had the best time chatting, adventuring, and learning with you. I’m so excited to see how God is using you.

Recently, I also had the joy of meeting Jessica. Seriously one of the coolest highschoolers. This chick is graduating and headed to Belmont. She is full of dreams, bravery, and talent. She joined us on our adventures and took us around some of Memphis’s best tops- even agreeing to get in front of the lens. I’m just so honored to know her. <3 Thank you Jess for being so lovely and such a joy! I love how I can see your dreams through your eyes. I love your style and genuine spirit.