Wes was born in Washington DC, raised by his mom, grandma and aunts. This has shaped who he is today. Exposed to change from an early age, he now seeks consistency in his thoughts, life and the way he approaches photography. We loved getting to know hi, we hope you do too!
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What are the ways you create?
I do portrait and lifestyle photography for people and brands, in whatever form that takes right now, which includes weddings and senior portraits, as well as head shots and content creation. I also do music with some friends, Luke and Amber. We’re in a group called The Playlist. We do our own arrangements and perform for pretty specific events. Luke plays piano, and all of us sing, so we do lots of three part harmonies.
I’ve always had an interesting way of dealing with people. The Enneagram has been helpful with giving a name and face to the way I interact with others, as well as in the ways I’ve grown and not grown over the past several years. I’m still figuring that out.
What Enneagram type are you, and what does that mean?
I’m a four, which is the individualist and romantic. Being a four means you always feel you’re a bit different, or there’s something missing or fundamentally different with you in comparison to others. The good side of being a four means you see individual things and their importance, and how they come together. It could be in someone’s personality or in a space.
Tell us about Studio 1037.
I always try to use what’s available to me to the best of my ability, which can be a good thing, but other times it causes me to ignore change. I think that’s where Studio 1037 came from – It’s in the attic of our house, it’s beautiful, and I wanted to use it.
The space helps me keep the creative juices flowing. I’ve photographed so many people there, so it pushes me to do something different each time, or else it can begin to feel stale to me. I think it’s a good tool for creativity in that way. The light is pretty consistent during the day, and everything in the space is there to use.
Describe what you do. What defines your work?
I try and make every photo purposeful and intimate. I definitely love capturing random moments, and also studying people or portraits I like, then creating that with others. That can happen in different ways; some people respond well to being told exactly how to pose, or you may try and get their guard down to talk about whatever, to the point where they forget we’re taking photos. I try to look at the whole image to make sure nothing is left to chance on my end. It might look haphazard, but in a good way. That’s on purpose. Shooting through layers has become something I enjoy recently. I think it’s really cool how that creates a sense of intimacy and personal space.
How do you think your work is affected by your personality and childhood?
The relationships I had growing up were with my family and a few close friends. Even if I go back and look at movies or shows I watched, I can see a theme in noticing the close, personal relationships in those. I think that plays out in my music as well. Not only in singing, but in artists I love, who have intimate and close harmonies, with purposeful melodies. That purposefulness comes out when I’m arranging with Luke and Amber, because Amber is also a four and Luke is a three. Whether it’s the heart in the person I’m shooting or what’s in a song, that’s what I’m leaning towards.
What’s your journey with God been so far?
I had a pretty typical childhood in that regard. My whole family is Christian, and that’s how I grew up. My grandfather started a church, and there was some drama that went down in 2000 when he passed away. That split my family in two; that put a weird color on Christianity for me. There was a lot of change moving between churches during childhood, and even in college I was in a singing group which would visit a different church every Sunday. I’ve reached a point where I’m finally able to start exploring things and deciding things for myself, which is a good thing. Consistency shows itself again with going to church, even though the one I go to is an hour away. I feel a part of it, fed and loved by it. It’s been around seventeen years since I’ve felt that type of community in a church. That’s important to me.
My upbringing is mostly pentecostal, which is very feelings based. It can be charismatic and random, and sermons can go on forever with a stream of consciousness. My pastor now speaks from a manuscript, which I really appreciate, because I know he’s put a lot of thought and prayer into what he thinks he’s supposed to say.
I’m happy when I’m pursuing something and striving for a goal. For me success might be finding happiness in pursuing a goal.
Who inspires you?
Things done well inspire me. The people who inspire me are those who do whatever they do really well. On Instagram, I follow a wide variety of types of accounts who are doing different things – I just appreciate people who are fully committed to something. I also really admire people who collaborate well, and when those collaborations are successful. Thinking of something like a film where so many people played a part in it through the shooting, script and costumes – that’s the concept which inspires me the most. It’s really anyone who lives that out.
How do you define success?
The one word I keep thinking of is ‘happiness.’ I feel like in a general sense, if you’re happy with your life, then you’re successful. Of course, that’s very broad, but even if you’re not making the most money you possibly could or if things haven’t gone exactly how you’ve anticipated them to, happiness is at least for me right now what I’m striving towards. I think that’s a complicated question.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Kindness and intentionality. There’s enough anger and things that are done haphazardly in the world, so kindness and intentionality are important. I’m going to try to make that come through in my work.