Brownness Babe of the week: Aquina La'Shae
1. Please introduce yourself!
My name is Aquina La'Shae also know as A.La'Shae of A.La'Shae Photography, A.La'Shae Makeup and my blog Whoisalashae. I am a photographer, director, make-up artist and founder and editor in Chief of Emerge Mag!
I have been actively shooting for the last 7 years and doing makeup for the last 10 years. I have expanded my brand by starting a collective, magazine, and small boutique agency under the name of Emerge. Emerge was birthed out of pure frustration of agencies and magazines saying no countless of times, and publishing my work incorrectly by not crediting the team right, or re-editing images without our consent.
Emerge is a platform that was created out of frustration and passion. Me being a still aspiring fashion, beauty and lifestyle photographer, I noticed a lot of fashion magazines lacked women of color of all shades. And that frustrated me immensely because I'd love to see more women of color on all platforms of fashion, and beauty brands, and publication. Emerge is subject to launch our first issue called "The Debut" where I will showcase nothing but my work, styling, and retouching that which will introduce some of the quality of work we will feature in our issues.
We are focusing on up and coming unrivaled creatives with fresh, innovative quality work.
We also represent 6 models at the moment in which we are helping build their portfolios, establish their brands, as well as help the tap into other creative talents they may want to pursue such as styling, creative directing, PR and more. Emerge is slowly but surely expanding and will be a platform that represents a lot of artists and creatives that do not have visibility but have talent. I am most definitely excited about this project.
2. How did you get into photography?
I initially started photography in highschool. And I absolutely hated it. My parents had bought me a nice film camera and everything. I completed the class with a C believe it or not, and took a second class and fell in love with the graphic design aspect of photography but still never pursed it completely until 2010. I picked up a camera again being pregnant with my second child. I wanted to get my daughter into modeling so I started off by taking images of just her.
Shannon C by Aquina La'Shae
What made me fall in love with photography was the very first shoot I did with two models on a rooftop in Berkeley, California around sunset. I did the creative directing, styling, as well as makeup for both models. I had no idea what I was doing but the images are what made me fall in love with the art of photography. From that day forward, I began booking work mainly off of those images I shot, and it was over from there and I've been shooting actively ever since, and couldn't see my self-doing anything else.
3. Who are your idols?
His work is so clean, his concepts are always simple but still tell a story! I love photography where it's simple, clean with great retouching. And his work embodies all of what I love.
Images by Lance Gross
Loretta Houston is someone I have been idolizing from the moment I started pursuing photography professionally. Her is work is BEAUTIFUL! The fact that she is a female photographer and a mother is amazing. And her fashion and editorial work are to die for. I would love to assist her on set for one day or even just have her critique my work.
Images by Loretta Houston
Another photographer I adore is Julia Kuzmenko! She is hands down one of the best ( in my book) beauty photographers and retouchers. Why I respect her as an artist is the willingness to share techniques, as well as lighting diagrams, and her free courses. Her beauty work is always clean, and you never know what to expect. Her team is amazing, and for the simple fact she works with a lot of the beauty brands that I would love to work for as a make-up artist or photographer, she is someone I study, and really do hope as well to meet one day!
Being a self-taught photographer you tend to have to research on your own, or the trial and error method which is how my first five years as a photographer went.
4. Where do you find inspiration?
My main source of inspiration is my three beautiful children. Especially my little Queen. She watches every single thing I do. She picked up a camera at the age of 6 and has shot some of my beauty work of myself as a make-up artist, and just show's me constantly why I need to pursue every endeavor in life. At the age of 10, she has accomplished so much and she inspires me constantly and it's a very humbling feeling.
My amazing significant other whom is a photographer as well or even the day's where I feel drained from creating I just look at my body of work and know that my journey isn't over.
Tiera Pinkston by Aquina La'Shae
I have a wonderful creative team behind me as well in which is slowly but surely growing as my brand expands. We always call one another to bounce ideas around.
I read almost every fashion magazine you can think of and see what they are featuring or publishing in their magazines, or I study beauty photographers, fashion photographers in Africa, and Paris (Europe) mainly because those are two area iI'd love to tap into. '
5. Being a mother does not mean sacrificing your dreams and I am happy that you talked about this side of your life. Do you have any tips for anyone in the same situation as you?
Yes! And people need to know being a mother does not mean that you're sacrificing your dreams at all. If anything your children should push you to do more in life. It was definitely a struggle being a new mom of one, now I am a mom of three so scheduling things around my kids' hectic schedule. But the main thing I tell individuals to whom ask "how do you do it?"
I would first and foremost say do not give up. Look at your children as inspiration and show them what dedication and hard work is because nothing goes unnoticed. Always make sure you set aside time for your children especially if you have a hectic week or schedule always block a day or two off in the week or weekend if you're able to, to spend time with them. I often take my children to the park or the bookstore where I am able to get in a few hours of editing or answering emails. Also if they are old enough and interested in whatever it is you are pursuing make them feel involved.
My eldest two have been around the industry for a while so they understand when mommy has to work it's for us. I have constant talks with them letting them know my schedule, what new clients I'm shooting and making them involved with my business as well. I definitely have had my children on set so they know what mommy is doing and how to act on set (well, at least my oldest two). I've also had my daughter who is 10 soon to be 11 on set as my assistant because I want her to know the definition of hard work. She is also very interested in photography so this is the perfect age to introduce her to how the minor things work such as setting up equipment and breaking down equipment.
So to the mommies that want to pursue your dream while still being a "supermom" make a schedule and block off certain days and include your babies if they are interested. Always have a secure support team that will be down to watch the kids for last minute gigs and even an assistant that will go to gigs with you and occupies the kids. Teamwork always makes the dream work!
6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Established in each and every one of my endeavors. I see Emerge Mag being a big publication and one of the top boutique agencies, I also see A.La'Shae Photography and Makeup traveling across the country working with major beauty brands, and clothing brands, and in fashion magazines. I see expansion most definitely in 5 years.
7. What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say to be patient and appreciate the process and the things that were difficult in life to not break you because they were molding you to be an amazing mother, artist, and mentor. I would also tell my younger self to take more chances in life and stop second guessing what feels right and to never allow anyone allow you to pass up opportunities that can change your life for the better. Stay humble, and Stay hungry! And to always remember self-love is the best love!
8. Where can we find you online?
I can be found at the following:
That's it, folks! If you know anyone we should feature as a #BrownnessBabe, do not hesitate to write leave a comment!