We had the good fortune of connecting with Toshé Byrd and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Toshé, why did you pursue a creative career?
I almost feel as though I didn’t have a choice. Although my career now consists of photography, videography and graphic design, I’ve always been a creative. My first memorable passions were dancing and singing. Photography came around high school and then I couldn’t put it down. I would be involved in programs that promoted business, math, science, etc. and I found myself wanting to be the one to document the things I was apart of. It was a role I took on in everything I was in. By the time I had to decide on a college career, I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I had a camera in my hand.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Although I create for everyone who needs it, one thing that truly sets me apart is my approach to Black people in art. In my lifetime, I either grew up rarely seeing people who looked like me or only seeing people who looked like me portrayed in a negative way. It’s always a goal for me when I photograph Black people to make sure they are painted in their best light. I’ve spent time paying attention to lighting that looks best on brown skin, poses that work better for thicker women, setups that accentuate our amazing features like hair, lips, etc. At my current job, I frequently hear, “thank you’s” from Black people for making sure they looked their best before their photos were published anywhere. I would say that’s what I’m most proud of. I’m proud to make my culture proud. I would want the world to know that because I do photo, video, and graphic design, my brand and story goes beyond a simple flyer for one event. It goes beyond one photo or one video. I truly think about how everything I shoot or design can stand the test of time. I treat the things I create as if it was my own brand and for me. If it’s something I wouldn’t want to show people myself, I won’t create it for you to show off, either.
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?
Well, my best friend and I can literally have a good time doing absolutely anything. We are the type that just enjoy each others company. But if I were to put an agenda together, it would be a photoshoot tour, since she still is my first and favorite model. We would go to places like The Bridge to Nowhere, Jackson Street Bridge, Castleberry Hill, and the Goat Farm. Because she has things that she takes out and adds back into her diet frequently, I would take her to a place like Big Chow Grill so she could make her meal however she wanted. At some point, we would hit up my church, The Sanctuary Village of Power. After all these years, they know her and would be mad if I didn’t give them the chance to say hey! And she definitely couldn’t leave without a good karaoke session at either Corner Tacqueria or Midtown tavern with my other friends who love to sing.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My other half, Dru Phillips deserves so much credit in my success today. He constantly sees me at my best creatively and continues to push me to keep creating no matter what. I also have to give credit to my mom. I did well in many other academic arenas, but instead of pushing me towards what she thought was best, she allowed me to explore my own creativity. Because of that, I never had that wasted time in school or a time that I had to switch careers. I’ve always been able to do what I love from the start. Lastly, I have to give some credit to my best friend, Kariss. When I was starting photography, she was always my model. I learned composition, lighting, storytelling and so much more in photography through her being my model and always going with all of my ideas as I figured out who I was creatively.