ART: In Phocus with Kamia J. Funchess
ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING: Q&A with KAMIA J. FUNCHESS
Professional photographer Kamia J. Funchess shares a special connection with many of her subjects as an independent artist who wants people to know that true talent can be found outside of mainstream media. “There is so much talent out there no one knows about just because they don’t have a reality show or on TV/radio for 25/8. My quest is to inform the world that there is more to music and art than what they are immediately exposed to on a daily basis,” says the CEO and founder of PhocusKam Photography. Find out what keeps fueling her passion for photography and what sparked an unconditional love of music and dance in this interview with Tania Fuentez Media.
NOTE: All photos courtesy of Kamia J. Funchess.
TFM: Where have you gained the most appreciation for photography and what is your first memory of picking up a camera?
My first memory of picking up a camera is with my dad. He gave me a twin reflex and I thought looking through that lens was so magical! My father used to draw mostly still life images so that’s what I took photos of … trees, rocks, etc. But, he also took all of our photos and I fell in love with capturing people. I believe this is the time I gained the most appreciation for photography.
TFM: In addition to being a respected photographer and businesswoman, you are the mother of twins. What is that like?
HECTIC!! I am still in the works of mastering the art of balance with career and family, so many dynamics.
TFM: How long have you lived in Harlem and why is it a cultural mecca in your opinion? Do you have any best-kept secrets about Harlem or favorite spots for arts, food, history?
I technically grew up in Harlem because most of my family was here and we always had dinners and birthdays and holidays to celebrate but I have lived in Harlem for 10 years now. In my opinion, Harlem will always be a cultural mecca mainly because of its vast diversity of people and cultures. Anywhere you go in Harlem, you feel like you are in another place. The neighborhoods really celebrate their cultures.
Favorite spots … hmm … sad to say, I don’t get around that much, there is always something new popping up. But, off the top of my head, my favorite spots include Strictly Roots (by the time this is written it will be closed, unfortunately, the downside of the “new” Harlem), Tonnie’s Cupcakes (mmmmm!), Red Rooster and Makana (some of the best Hawaiian and Japanese food ever!) for food; The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Studio Museum, Maysles Cinema and Renaissance Fine Art Gallery for the arts and some history. I’m so sure there is more but I can’t think of them right now.
TFM: You are also working on a book based on mostly obscure independent artists such as singers, MCs, chefs, designers (both nationally and abroad). How do you intend to tell their stories and make a real difference in how society views independent artists?
I feel that independent artists get the short end of the stick as far as recognition for their talents. I feel that society is hypnotized by what record labels and media present to them to like and it sickens me. There is so much talent out there no one knows about just because they don’t have a reality show or on TV/radio for 25/8. My quest is to inform the world that there is more to music and art than what they are immediately exposed to on a daily basis. I intend to do this through imagery and the artists’ own words in book form. I want people to know that true talent can be found outside of mainstream media.
TFM: Music and dance feature prominently in your portfolio. How did that come about and why?
I love, love, love music and my dream was to be like the cool photographers of the 60s and 70s that followed bands like Annie Leibovitz and Elliot Landy. I wanted performers and entertainers to look to me for all their photographic needs. My parents gave me the love of music because they had all the great albums in our house and I listened to every single one of them. I was one of those people who read the liner notes, who played on the album, etc. So to me, music and photography seemed like the perfect marriage. Dance is just a natural progression. It gives you the visual for the music.
PhocusKam Photography: http://www.phocuskamphotography.smugmug.com/