We had the good fortune of connecting with Aurie Singletary and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aurie, let’s talk legacy – what do you want yours to be?
I want my legacy to be one filled with compassion, collaboration, transparency and artistic freedom. So much of what I make serves as a love letter to self and the people within the communities that support me. I want to create environments that elevate those around me which is what I try to do with my artistry. The majority of my subject matter in my photo work is filled with people who traditionally have been marginalized in our society. I want my legacy to be about uplifting the voices of those communities, showcasing them boldly and beautifully to the, and creating safe environments that promote healing and self-discovery. I also want a large portion of what I do in the future to be about providing resources, connection and education to the same marginalized communities. I am really blessed to be working with an amazing team of other creators that I am honored to also call friends. Our collective creates a safe space for people who are interested in learning more about photography, videography, production and just creative pursuits in general and provides them with a judgement free zone to ask questions and learn hands on our sets. We provide access to our equipment, showcase some of the techniques we use to achieve certain looks, and encourage others to come to my home studio space and just learn. We’re looking to expand our current setup into a full fledged program so that we can help so many budding creatives who don’t know how to enter into the creative world thrive.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Getting here has been a LONG journey but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Being a black queer woman with a chronic illness a lot of the spaces I’ve been interested in being a part of haven’t traditionally been the most inviting to say the least. I spent so much of my corporate career of working in advertising and a designer hiding my illness from others because once they found out about how debilitating my Narcolepsy and Pseudotumor Cerebri they would pity me, I was code switching CONSTANTLY because 95% of the spaces I would operate in advertising would be mainly white male dominated, racially insensitive, and ablest, . Even though I enjoyed the work I was doing, my work environment didn’t really foster me as a creative professional. I stayed in that environment honestly for so long because stability, structure, and insurance being a person with a chronic illness. I am grateful to my previous boss, who was (and still is) AMAZING, for guiding me through the transition from corporate to flourishing my own talents. I owe so much to how I’ve grown as a creative to her always pushing me to be better, creating opportunities for me to flourish and supporting the things I was doing outside of her as well. I saw my old boss thrive as a strong black creative, and I was inspired to take the leap and do the same for myself. It’s great to have her still as someone who supports me even though I am now working on my own. Having the opportunity to work in a great environment with her and contrast it to former jobs made me realise…I can make my own safe work environment. The challenges I’ve faced in my past is what fuels me to create safe spaces that promote transparency, compassion and creativity. I think that’s genuinely what sets me apart from my peers is that I work hard to create an environment that cultivates collaboration which transforms it from being “just a photoshoot” or “just a design” to a genuinely enjoyable experience. 90% of my subject matter aren’t models and most of them haven’t even had a shoot done before. I love photographing people who might have never seen themselves as models before and creating an environment that they feel powerful, creative and seen. My clients become people I really have bonds and friendships with. If I hadn’t experienced the feeling of not being watered, I couldn’t have created the kind of space that really wants others to flourish.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I guess I can just tell you what I would do with my best friend TemiTayo. Well first of all my best friend is a super Pisces who LOVES anything art, music and culture related. She is also Nigerian which means the bar for food quality is HIGH lol if we are going to eat food it needs to be delicious lol. Back when the world was open (because we are in a pandemic and safety is important) But I would take her to get brunch at Milk & Honey so we could have a cute little mimosa moment to start off our morning right. Then we would probably head to the High Museum to geek out over the latest exhibit because we are HUGE art history buffs. For lunch we would then hit up Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen & Bar. My family is Gullah Geechee and it’s something that’s important to my identity and who I am as a person. Seeing some of my comfort foods from back home conveniently in Atlanta makes my soul smile. Plus as a true Geechee Gyal I love me some crabs and red rice lol. Next for our night time entertainment we would head to a drag show to see my homies over at Southern Fried Queer Pride. The organization has done SO MUCH for the advocacy, protection, and celebration of the Queer Community in Atlanta and really all over the US. I’ve been so fortunate to work and be friends with so many of the lovely people affiliated with them so we would have to show them some support and make sure to spend some stacks on the roster of amazing performer’s they feature. We would probably end the night in true Atlanta fashion, drunk on the inside of a waffle house with my friends from the show laughing about life and connecting with each other.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would love to give a big shout out to my homies Desirae Dennis and Jamee Cornelia. I am infinitely inspired and encouraged by the resilience and just general BAD ASSESNESS of the two women lol. These lovely ladies are my business partners and friends who have been really an anchor in what I hope my legacy can become. We push each other, support each other and genuinely collaborate with each other on how we improve our personal work and how we can help our communities. It feels really good to be surrounded by a tribe that really looks out for your best interest and just wants to create with you. We are just a group of baddass queer women creators an I love that for us.