I guess I should start off by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. I know we’re well into February, but as the saying goes, better later than never. I trust and hope the New Year is treating you well and that you’re in amazing health and spirits.
So far the New Year is off to a great start for me. Once again I was selected by FORD Motor Company to be their official photographer for the 11th Annual NAACP Image Awards Symposium. This is the second year that they’ve reached out to me to be their photographer. So I guess this means I’m pretty damn good at what I do.
Again, like last year, the symposium had such an impact on things I currently do centered on homeless and HIV outreach, as well as an impact on things in my personal life. Last year the symposium focused on how important it is for us to tell our own stories and share our own experiences and this year picked up with how to go about telling those stories.
There were a few things that stood out the most for me with the first being social media and how, when used correctly, can be a very effective tool for getting your message out to a much broader audience, but also being mindful of which social media network can leverage your needs. Meaning, knowing your audience base on each network and capitalizing on that.
The second was never to give up and not to wait on anyone else. All the tools we need are right in front of us at our finger tips. All we have to do is come up with a plan and then go about executing it and not stopping until our goals are met.
However what really rang true for me the most was simply keeping my head down and doing the work. “I didn’t go looking for Spike Lee for HBO, they came looking for me” said panelist Numa Perrier. I couldn’t help but smile because as I thought about it many of the relationships I now enjoy with Getty Images, FORD and so many others including PositiveLite.com, I was not pursuing, but through my work each of them reached out to me.
I also had the opportunity to photograph another FORD event for the Feeedom Sisters and once again I was so blown away how the work these powerful women are doing fell right into line with the work I currently do surrounding homeless individuals. So not only did I enjoy the opportunity to be paid to photograph another high profile event sponsored by FORD, but I also left the event being encouraged and even re-energized to keep moving forward with the work I created eight years ago.
Yes, you read that right. Eight years ago, while homeless, I created Project KengiKat and Do Something Saturday. Eight solid years of grass roots community service to the homeless, individuals living with HIV or AIDS, low income families, children and seniors.
There were those who said the work I created was not important and could not help anyone, much less last very long, but here I am eight years later working just as hard as when I first started to raise awareness and education for issues millions of Americans fight with little or no support. I can honestly say that this work is far from over and I will be doing this work for as long as there if life in my body.
Lastly I’m happy to announce that I’ve already accomplished two of my goals for 2015. I did my first group art show last week and yesterday I was asked to join a panel of guest speakers who go into local high schools and colleges speaking and educating others about HIV and AIDS.
I’ve also set Friday, April 3, 2015 as the date for my solo art and photography show which will mark the 7yj year of my HIV diagnosis. This show is entitled “NIA” which means purpose.
So as I embark on 2015, I’m going to live my life on purpose with no regrets I’ll be the same Kengi, but wearing a brand new smile, a brand new walk, a brand new point of view and a renewed purpose for everything I’ll do. I’m off to a great start and I’m very sure this will be another successful year for me both personally and professionally.