The staff here at BKBT Concept were so honored to interview THE photographer extraordinaire, North Carolina turned L.A. transplant–Anthony Supreme. Anthony sat with us and ran down a few of the many things he’s been up to this past year. As an artist, his story is truly inspirational.
We learned that Anthony moved to L.A. on a whim after the untimely passing of his mother. While realizing that time waits for no man, Supreme packed his bags to chase his dreams, and we are all witness to how that is turning out. Real life transpired for Supreme as he became a record company’s go-to-guy when it came time for capturing their artists images for marketing. All of this showed Supreme to never hesitate and to just jump when you see an opportunity!
In the interview we touched on many themes from his videography roots in North Carolina with artist Deniro Ferrar, to his current gig, touring and photographing J. Cole’s “4 Your Eyez Only” stadium tour. Picking his brain we learned who he still wants to shoot, what gear he uses, and what he tries to encapsulate in his photos each time he picks up a camera.BKBT: Your work is richly embedded with the ongoing theme of black excellence, is that conscious thought when you’re shooting? Or is that there something you find in the editing room?
AS: It’s mostly an unconscious thing I assume. But I think it’s important to showcase Black excellence, especially with the Dreamville brand because 98% who work on Dreamville are all black men and woman. All in my opinion represent black excellence.
BKBT: Is there anyone on your career bucket list that you desire to immortalize in a photograph or has that want already been achieved?
AS: It’s kinda been achieved already. Working with Cole is really a dream come true because we represent North Carolina. I think now it’s mostly about that the photography to different platforms using artists I enjoy such as Cole, The Weeknd, Travis Scott & Justin Beiber & etc pop artist to do covers of magazines and etc. Using more than just their platform to showcase my work through.BKBT: I was introduced to your work initially through your music videos with Deniro Ferrar, videos that have that indie film vibe to them. “Big Tookie, Reasons, Genesis, This Is It, Fears, etc.” those videos had such an “anti-establishment” feel to them. If you were critiquing your own work, how rapidly do you feel that your work evolved?
AS: Has evolved so much! So much more knowledgeable than I use to be. Way more diverse in my talents and understanding of my content. I worked very close with Deniro at the time, but always felt I wasn’t going anywhere by attaching myself to his brand. The passing of my mom and taking a risk to move to LA. Just live out my car and really challenged my mind and comfort. Forced me to learn more and also be more involved with more people who do what I do. By living in LA I was able to do an intern work on set with other photographers to learn that what I was currently doing was the right path. But also being around them taught me more about how I should conduct myself. I would do so much for free but I would learn so much about where I wanted to be.BKBT: What gear do you use nowadays? Has your setup changed at all as you’ve progressed?
AS: Photography wise I switch up a bunch but mostly 5D Mark II or III and just a bunch of different focal length lenses. Around 2.8f stops. Also film cameras, been a huge fan of the Olympus Point & Shoot film cameras. Using Kodak 200, 400-1600 film stocks.
Directing wise is kinda the same thing using specific DP’s with different RED or Alexa’s, and unique film lenses to match the feeling and mood of the music video. Ultimately everything has changed, because of the access to more things equipment in LA than in NC.BKBT: What’s the craziest or most iconic moment you think you’ve witnessed in a photograph?
AS: To me being around Cole because he’s the most inspiring person I’ve ever worked with. He’s a very private person. For example, he can go on a stage with 16,000 plus people watching, to backstage having a conversation about life, then minutes later having a business conversation with his managers, then another with his team about why a truck isn’t loading correctly. To me, he works a lot but he understands that this is his brand, and the more he’s involved the better things will be. Which I respect so much because there’s so many artists that choose not to be involved just make their money and not be involved nor care about the people who work for them. Cole is a good boss to work with. I think having the opportunity to capture that is special to me and I respect him a lot.
BKBT: Rappers and musicians are photographed constantly. What do you think makes your images unique?
AS: I think nothing really. I think because I’m more attached to his brand it makes my work seen more by many people. Which is great, which is what I wanted to happen. I’m great at what I do but there are so many more talented photographers out there but with no opportunity or never a consistent opportunity which makes up a major part of today’s branding. I’ve watched photographer’s for years and then some became amazing over night because of the clients and people they are around.BKBT: If you had a conversation with a young Anthony Supreme, one fresh and wet behind the ears just starting his journey of filmmaking and photography, what advice would give yourself? What advice would you wish someone had given you? Do you think you would have taken said advice?
AS: Just to keep doing what you’re doing because it will all work out. Where you wanna be will happen just keep practicing and preparing yourself for the opportunity.BKBT: You’re photographing J. Cole’s tour. What changes in what you’re trying to capture from city to city?
AS: That’s kinda the hardest thing really. Because shows are the same every night. I find myself shooting a lot of the same shots. Knowing why the brand will use and not use. Knowing kinda what Cole only wants to show now. We’re about a month still left of the tour so I have to work with Coles team to find creative ideas to create together. So it’s mostly a team process of what we decide to shoot every night.
BKBT: How did the J. Cole cover photograph come together? It’s such a powerful image that predominantly features his back.
AS: It all came together through my friend Scott I met in while living in Charlotte. We both kinda moved to LA around the same time. Scott started working for Cole and that was kinda his thing never really asked to do photography for Cole. I just kept working on my stuff and learning more. So one day Scott just asked me if I was interested. We went on a full creative tour to create the documentary which is out everywhere for the whole to see. But we were in Atlanta and Cole decided to walk through that neighborhood. The kid was just there really watching him. When capturing it I never saw him in it I just saw Cole. So a few days passed I presented a few images to Cole and we both kinda liked the same images. A few months past a few of the creative directors and designers found the same image as well. Which is weird because they had 5,000 images to go through. But that became the cover.BKBT: What’s the process of photographing an artist like J. Cole, is it like hanging out with a friend whom you happen to snap pictures of, or is it more a professional “this is my client” type deal?
AS: Cole is pretty private kinda guy. Sometimes I can tell he doesn’t like the camera as much only when he’s in the mood. But during tour and etc. it’s like taking photos of your friend, but always in the back of my mind, I have realized I have to be professional about everything. Also, with this much access to someone with so many fans and etc. always keeping it professional and responsible.
Anthony Supreme is a man who seems tailored made for the Dreamville team, he goes after what he wants with a dollar & a dream. He saw what he needed to do to elevate his skills, career and humbly followed suit, putting aside notions of being comfortable, or happy. He chose the painful harder route, because on the other side of pain is growth. It seems to be working out beautifully for Mr. Supreme indeed!
You can follow Anthony Supreme and his travels on his social media below.