22 year-old Detavius Niblack is a powerful and transformative portrait photographer. He incorporates the essence of both physical nature as well as human nature in his photography, beautifully capturing his subject often against a verdant background. The landscapes he captures are unique and set the perfect scene. He loves spur-of-the-moment ideas. His inspiration and passion come from rural South Carolina and here in Florida where he grew up. View his work at kneeblack.com. He’s also on vimeo, instagram, and twitter.
[RADX:] Tell us more about your photography background.
[Detavius:] I’ve been taking pictures since I can remember. I started taking it more seriously about 5 years ago at church. I got my first DSLR and started taking pictures of experiences and before/after shots of services. Then I started branching outside of church meeting new people.
[RADX:] Take us to a day in the life of your photography.
[Detavius:] It goes two ways. Planned and unplanned. I usually gather some concepts a week or a couple of days before-hand. Then present them to the person I’m working with. My favorite is when it’s flying off the hem of our pants. I’ll ask the person I’m shooting “are you free?” “what do they want to do?” “what do they have?” Then it’s like cool; let’s take that, some tin foil, make some magic happen. It’s when my best shoots come out.
[RADX:] How has your journey been since you started?
[Detavius:] It’s been stressful and fun. Not the people but the process. In a way; I want to be one way, but my photography speaks from the heart. I’m embracing that. It has helped me find myself. I’ve learned a lot about people, systems, navigating, networking, and money comes, money goes.
[RADX:] What was your experience like living in SC and FL? How did that influence your pursuit in photography?
[Detavius:] In Jacksonville, there was something always happening. For example, weird weather like a hurricane. I was always curious in sharing events and in being in the midst of the action. I could visually do that. South Carolina gave me an appreciation for nature. You could be driving around and forget it’s the 21st century. You’ll start by passing tractor trailers and you keep driving and you see a big city. Growing up in a small town helped me appreciate small beginnings. It has the best places to take pictures. A breath of fresh air.
[RADX:] What does being a photographer mean to you?
[Detavius:] Responsibility. Photographers are conveying an art visually, while also painting a picture. Everyone sees life one way. Photographers have a different perspective.
[RADX:] What’s next for you?
[Detavius:] Where the wind takes me. Every time I try to decide, I go in a different direction. I get there and the cake doesn’t taste as good as I thought. Making sure people feel great, better, and provide information. Improving.
[RADX:] What would you tell your younger self?
[Detavius:] Start packing more water. Not for self, but for the people you shoot with. The future you will need water. Hydration is important. As far as information, past me will probably want me to say nothing. Past me is happy of future me. They both are happy.
[RADX:] Do you have a role model?
[Detavius:] I have so many. I would need one of those old scrolls to read off. Leonardo Da Vinci really has influenced my photography and art in general.
[RADX:] What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue photography?
[Detavius:] Honor others space, boundaries, and what they are comfortable with doing. Be disciplined, internally and externally. Personality first. Skill last. Be the best you can and leave room for improvement. Don’t take it so seriously, but have fun. Put people first, people love that.
[RADX:] Do you have any other pursuits outside of photography?
[Detavius:] Blacksmith. I’m just playing. I’m a huge advocate for our planet, my ambition is helping to preserve Earth. Fighting climate change, using metal straws, etc.
[RADX:] What would be your favorite photoshoot?
[Detavius:] It’s hard to choose. I manifest the day I get to shoot Zendaya.