David Talley is an up and coming fine art photographer out of Southern California who was recently given the opportunity to fly to Uganda to use his talent to give a visual to orphanages. Here is his story.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’m a 20 year old fine art and portrait photographer, aspiring cinematographer, and avid beard-wearer residing in the foothills of Southern California. I like hiking, traveling, creating, camping, and cooking.
I work as a freelance photographer worldwide. Whether I’m in the 100-foot-tall forests of Maryland shooting a new fine art piece, in the slums of Uganda shooting portraits of widows for non-profit organizations, or in my own backyard shooting your senior photos or wedding, I bring all of my energy and love for photography and life with me.
I hope that with my work, consisting of everything from beautiful portraits, to the emotions and stories surround romance, mystery, and adventure, I am able to reach generations of all ages and inspire them in any way I can – be it to pursue the passion they love, stay positive, or just inspire with beautiful imagery.
How did you hear about the project in Uganda?
My dad has been to the region twice this past year for some missionary work, and through him, my imagery was shown to the founder of the organization. I flew over to the region in late September to do some work with Wando International, a new non-profit organization based in Uganda which helps to empower widows and orphans to escape extreme poverty. Within a few months’ time, I was packing my bags and heading off to do some promotional imagery and develop the visual style of Wando’s brand through my photography.
What was your experience like in Africa?
I spent much of my time in Uganda organizing and directing shoots, and photographing all over the city of Jinja and its surrounding cities and villages. We stayed at an orphanage, and I came to know about 10 of the cutest little babies you’ll ever see in your entire life. I also had the chance to speak with many of the people who help run the orphanage, exchanging words while rain, thunder, lightning, rainbows, and sunshine all filled the sky outside. I was given a much deeper perspective of the other side of the world through my trip – although my main goal was to create spectacular images, I came home with a heavy heart for the decrepit status of the region. It’s a different world over there, and I hope that what I’m doing by working with this organization will be a small part of the small steps being taken to help the region grow.
Overall, the trip was just incredibly perspective changing. Everything – the way they view death, how they treat each other, how I was treated, the conditions in which they live, their faith, everything. The good showed me as much as the bad, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to have gone.
What is a specific memory you would like to share?
So I got a stomach bug in Africa – worst thing ever, right? Yeah, that’s exactly right. I started feeling funky early in the morning, driving around town, but dismissed it and attributed my stomach gurgles to the bumpiness of the dirt roads we’d been driving on all week. Knowing that I had an assignment to shoot later that day, I decided to lay down and try to get my stomach back in tip top shape. Two hours later, I had buried my head in the porcelain bowl at the orphanage. I was told I could shoot the assignment the next day, but because we had about 40 women together to photograph at a small party for the organization, I wanted to seize the opportunity while the women were all together. I geared up and we headed out to the location where I’d be shooting, a school located in the center of a village. I felt much better, but to play it safe, I waited in the car until the women were ready to shoot. I set off down the dirt road in the village with the women behind me and about 2 dozen village-kids surrounding me, laughing at me, jumping on me, and wanting to look at my camera. And then it hit me… again. I doubled over, dropped to my knees, and let go right off the dirt path, with kids watching all around me. Everyone in the village stared, and the women, who were now behind me, were so entirely astonished. I wiped my mouth and eyes, stood up, and asked them (with the biggest smile I could muster) if they were ready to shoot. They just stared, wide eyed. It was perfectly hilarious.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
As far as projects go, I’m off to Chicago to begin my first round of workshops as a teacher! It’s so exciting, and honestly a little nerve-wracking to be looked up to in such a way that people are paying me to learn how I do what I do. It’s incredibly humbling, and I couldn’t be more excited to embark upon this portion of my life. I’ll be hosting two workshops during my time in Chicago. I come home for Thanksgiving this month, and then in early December, I’m off to Texas for a week of client shooting! I’m extremely passionate about travel, and I’m excited to begin my journey as a worldwide photographer.
David, thanks for interview!