Guest Star: "I Had To Work To Get A Smile Out Of T.I."

Friday, Nov 26, 2010 7:00AM

Written by SOHH for Ray Tamarra

[Flashing Lights: New Jersey-based photographer Ray Tamarra shares his experience balancing friendship and artistic integrity with entertainers like Trey Songz and T.I.]

T.I. is one of the artists I have a good relationship with and someone who can trust me enough so that he isn't self conscious when I am around. I have that relationship with some artists but not all. I remember doing a behind the scenes shoot for Trey Songz and I've shot him a few times so he knows my name, I know his, and so there was a comfort level.

Trey knew whatever photos I would take, they would be flattering to him. But, there was another videographer that was working on the same shoot and Trey wasn't as welcoming. So when he was around, Trey wouldn't cooperate, but with me, he would be fine. If I needed to ask him something he would say, "Come on into my trailer, Ray." So it all played out. Or if I wanted him to take a photo with one of the lead girls in the video he would say, "Sure, just stick around and we'll knock it out in a bit." Whereas, with the other guy, Trey would have his security come and distract him.

Even with T.I., sometimes he would tell me I would have to catch whatever it was I needed from him. That moment. Bringing things more full circle, I like to capture certain moments that happen that resonate but that's something you have to build over time. With an artist like Lil Wayne, I don't have that type of history and so I have to knock it out when I get a chance to photograph him instead of having time to capture the shot I want. Maybe after a few more shoots, he'll be more forthcoming.

Sometimes you get artists who only want flattering images of themselves, they don't want to see anything different. If I take a picture of a group of people, everybody is always going to look and see how they look. So everyone loves to make sure they are perceived in a positive light and there are some shots that if you want to preserve a relationship, you'll kill those shots because they're not flattering to a person or company. And that's something each person has to answer for them self.

I think the line between being a friend to an artist or person you are shooting and doing what you deem is best is something that's never set in stone. I think that that's a battle that's won or loss every day. If you decide on one thing one day and then the opposite the next, you can still be absolutely right. There was one time when I did a photo shoot of J. Holiday and he had a smile on his face and closed his eyes. I thought it was a great moment but when I showed him, he was uncomfortable with it. I totally disagreed but I did not use the shot because he was uncomfortable with it and that wasn't a battle I needed to win so I just conceded. But even to this day, I think it's a great shot but I do not use it and it is not circulating any where.

I think it would have been a great moment for him. Even for T.I., I had to work to get a smile out of him. I did get a smile out of T.I. and I was absolutely proud of it. When T.I. smiles, that's even more powerful because you see the charisma of the man and it's like hitting a wall. That beam is like bam!

Check out some of Ray Tamarra's work below:

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Be sure to check out tomorrow's Flashing Lights' feature, Mike Schreiber.

Ray Tamarra is an established photographer who has taken shots of Lil Wayne, Baby, Flo Rida, Plies, T.I., Trey Songz, Sean Paul and more.

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