Interview by Jess Petrylak
I MET TREVON LAST SPRING AT A BERNIE SANDERS RALLY IN THE BRONX; IT WAS A VERY QUICK INTERACTION, HE HAD ASKED MY BOYFRIEND IF HE COULD TAKE A PORTRAIT OF HIM IN THE CROWD. THIS WAS A VERY DEFINITIVE MOMENT FOR ME AS A PERSON, AND AN ARTIST. I WAS VERY INSPIRED BY TREVON’S FEARLESSNESS, GRACEFULLY MARCHING THROUGH THE CROWD ASKING STRANGERS FOR THEIR PORTRAITS, WHICH I COULD ONLY IMAGINE WAS A DIFFICULT TASK IN ITSELF; I WAS ALSO WARMED BY THE FACT THAT HE SAW SOMETHING SPECIAL AND BEAUTIFUL IN PEOPLE HE DIDN’T KNOW. I AM HONORED TO HAVE INTERVIEWED AND SUPPORT SOMEONE WHO HAD SHOWN ME SUCH CONFIDENCE IN THEIR ARTISTRY. THANK YOU TREVON!
SUCKER: Who is Black Blonde Images?
BLACKBLONDEIMAGES: My name is Trevon Blondet, I was born and raised and educated in the Bronx. And BlackBlondeImages is the name of the gallery on Instagram where I share my photographs and my message.
SUCKER: What was your first experience with a camera? Did your artistic career start with photography?
BBI: My first experience with a camera is when dad always took photos and I always play with the film container. He had tons of slides. I was the kid who used to bring my disposable camera, and photograph class trips. I took 3 credits of photography in undergrad as an elective. That wasn’t enough to be fluent in the dark room. I few years ago I bought my first digital camera. A Canon Rebel. I was off and running. As a kid, I was always interested in the music.
SUCKER: Almost all of your images are monochromatic, what is the reasoning behind this? How do you decide if a photograph should be in color or black and white?
BBI: The first exhibits I went to that left an impact on me, most of the photographs were black and white. Mainly those photographers were too poor to spend the extra money to buy and process color film. When I started to figure out what subject matter I wanted to capture, I stripped away the colors to focus on the message. If there is something very dynamic about the color in the photo I will leave it in color. Usually I convert it to monochrome to my liking. I mainly shoot street photography, sports, concerts and portrait not in that order.
SUCKER: Who are some of your favorite visual artists?
BBI: That’s a tough question…I’ve meet a lot of muralist and painters in recent years and I’ve become friends of a few of them, So my favorite visual artists are my friends.
SUCKER: How did you transition from taking photographs to making a career out of it?
BBI: I still have a 9 – 5, but I starting taking my camera every where and I began to hone my craft. Once I joined the Bronx Photo League, my photography got better exponentially. Being around a group of people who genuinely want to see you become a better shooter; they nurtured the environment that different types of photographers where you get inspired. The BPL forced me to become better at my craft all around. It made me more aware about my community. That was showcased at Photoville with the Bronx Documentary Center container, where we highlighted a 2 mile stretch on Jerome Ave. in the Bronx. Photo book: Jerome Avenue Workers Project. From that work, I got published in the NYTimes and Metro News. I have had a few assignments for the Riverdale Press, Bronx Times and Crain’s 5Boros. It’s a start for other projects coming up.
SUCKER: What is the most challenging thing about working with an urban landscape and portraiture photography? What’s the easiest?
BBI: I guess the tough part is approaching people and asking someone to take your portrait. It’s also it’s challenging being rejected. I doesn’t bother me too much, but at first I would completely shut down and stop taking pictures for the day. The easiest part is when people walk up to you and ask for a picture. Some people want their story told and picture taking.
SUCKER: What kind of camera(s) and editing software do you use?
BBI: I have a: Canon 60D w/ Tamron Lens 24mm-70mm, canon telephoto lens 70mm-200mm, and canon 50mm, Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm, and Canonet QL17RF 35mm (film camera). Lightroom software, Snapseed (Google based app)
SUCKER: What is your go-to art making song?
BBI: The music really depends on my mood. There was a period time when I only listened to jazz while I was shooting because I gave me peace to let my mind wander a bit and see things differently.
SUCKER: Your work gives narrative behind the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, and coincides with living in the Bronx. What does your process look like in terms of your theme? Has it changed at all over the years?
BBI: I started to photograph the Bronx; and her residents and neighborhoods and the culture that lives there. When Black Lives Matter movement kicked off I felt I had to use my images to show, individually, each person matters. I started to finding people and started using the #TheyMatter, or her or she matter. (I didn’t create the #) I take portraits of men, women, transgender, LGBTQ, kids, or senior citizens because they all matter. I went to a few Black Lives Matter movement events in the Bronx, but most of the marches and rallies are in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
SUCKER: Did you get a higher education in art? How did this decision help you?
BBI: I graduated with a Fine Arts – Communication Degree, but I wouldn’t call myself a Art Major. I learned most everything I know from the Bronx Documentary Center and that was the best decision I ever made.
SUCKER: Have you had any bad experiences when asking strangers to take their photograph? Any good experiences?
BBI: When I actively shooting the “NO” was the worse thing. No one has every threatened me or anything. If they agree to take a portrait, I consider a gift and it always pleasant to receive a gift. Also, it’s nice when people recognized the person if I post it to Instagram. That’s why I photograph the Bronx.
SUCKER: Why is it important in the 21st century to be active online as an artist?
BBI: Photography provides immediacy depending on year gear. It tells you a whole without words, or a few photos with poignant text is like a novel. Photography can sell the recent trends of fashion. Everything is more visual these days and with a camera you tell a story and upload it within seconds.
SUCKER: What is the best advice you could give to aspiring young photographers?
BBI: It’s import to keep up with what everyone one is doing; it should spark ideas. I think also finding mentors and mentees is important to be active online. Criticisms can be complementary, and online you can get some good constructive criticisms.
SUCKER: What are your plans for your future art and future self?
BBI: I will continue to get better as a photojournalist and try to show the Bronx in a positive light.
SUCKER: Where can we buy your art and contact you?
BBI: I have a friend working on my website it should be complete in October, but you can DM me on Instagram (@BLACKBLONDEIMAGES) and we’ll figure it out from there. I have 8 x 10’s and 11 x 14’s prints of my favorite photographs.