A Conversation With Elijah Dominique: Inside the Mind of a Photographer

BY ASIA RIDDICK

With an innate ability to organically capture moments, Elijah Dominique is a photographer and creative director whose works both translate and create experiences extending far beyond the lens. As a visionary of sorts, Dominique is undeniably seamless in his technique. Powerful in form and content he displays a dynamism that elevates his ability to tell stories, completely transforming what it is to not only be a photographer but an artist.  

Photo by  Jimmy Got.It

Photo by Jimmy Got.It

With Dominique's works serving as a creative incubator forming real and raw art, we got the opportunity to sit down and chat with him about his process. From how he got started to why he does it, Dominique offers a candid glimpse into his journey. 

Tell us about yourself. What do you do and where are you from?

My name is Elijah Dominique, I'm a photographer and creative director, born and raised in Maryland and now I currently live in NYC.

What first drew you to photography and how did you come upon it?

My grandfather and aunt had cameras and use to always photograph my siblings and cousins when we were kids. That's when I was first introduced to it. When I first started to get into it was in high school. The process of me developing photos was amazing because you go into the dark room and you're developing the picture and taking it out the canister, to see the final product was really cool. That's what really drew me and interested me to learn more about that craft.

Whose works have influenced you most?

I draw a lot of inspiration from Gordon Parks. I love his work. I feel like me and him relate in a lot of ways because he's so versatile with his work. He shoots fashion, editorial, sports campaigns and that's what I'm trying to do with my work. I don't want to be limited to just one aspect.

FC Harlem Soccer Club for Nike x Nike Football

How does black and white versus color play into your works?

I shoot in color but whenever I decide to take an image from color to black and white usually depends on the shot and how I feel. When I do black and white images I almost want it to look like a film noir photo. Whenever I see a shot in one my archives, I'm like "this should be in black and white" because maybe the composition of it or what the subject is doing or what surrounds the background.

Would you say you have a shooting style?

I have a style, my style is very raw, it's organic, real. I like realism in my photos. The way I approach shooting too, is a very raw way.

Which one is more important to you, content or form? Do you feel one plays more of a crucial role over the other? 

I think it's more important to have a technical form. If you don't know the basics of how to take a photograph then the content doesn't mean anything. You could have a great subject but, if it's a bad photo, it's a bad photo. Technical form is definitely more important.

In what ways do you incorporate new things into your work? 

It comes from inspiration and who you surround yourself with. You always want to have people around you that inspire you to do different things and take risks.

What do you think makes a memorable photograph?

The story in that photograph, the message the photograph may convey. A memorable photo is something that will get you talking, asking questions, and wanting to know more.

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Tell us about the most memorable photograph you've taken.

I was on the "J" train, it was summer time and I was on my way to Fool's Gold, this was in 2015. It's was about five o'clock PM and I was sitting next to a bunch of Asian kids, they were traveling back home with their parents and this one kid has his arms on the leverage of the window, looking out the window as the train went by. I was sitting there and thought this is an amazing photo to take, til' this day it's one of my favorite images because it's so innocent, pure, and candid.

As a photographer, you capture moments in time that could never be duplicated verbatim, with that what would you say your perspective on life is?

I'm a very go with the flow type of person, nothing is really planned for me and I feel like my work resembles that. Me being that type of photographer reflects how I see life, go with the flow.

Is who you are separate from your career as a photographer or are they one?

I feel like I am my work. My work is me and it speaks a lot about myself.

Why do you take photos?

For memories, I want to be able to go back and say, "I did this." This is why I do this, for the memories and for the experience. My work has taken me to different countries that I would’ve never thought of. 

All photos shown are the works of Elijah Dominique