Photography by Glenford Nunez
Glenford Nunez impressed me from the first moment we met. Focused, professional, and highly creative, he’s exactly the kind of person one would hope to work with. And though he’s contributed to What Weekly for several months, I didn’t understand how driven he is until meeting him at his apartment/studio to interview him for this story.
He’s begun the process of moving his studio out of his apartment and into a retail space at the bottom of his building, but at the time of our interview his apartment was his workspace, and little else. Sparsely appointed, the living room held one small table where his camera and lenses lived, a collection of guitars and foot pedals in one corner, charcoal drawings on the floor in another, and a white back drop in front of large studio lights. The one bedroom serves as an office while his bed is kept in the walk in closet so as to maintain a professional atmosphere. The entire place is pretty much spotless. You wouldn’t think that anyone lived there.
Initially, our conversation was about how he’s growing his business, Trust Your Photographer. When he talks about his work he uses the word “we” frequently so I stopped him and asked, “who’s we?”
“My Team,” he replied. “I have a core set of people, my assistant Courtney, she’s always around, my lead hair stylist Chicara Johnson, and regular make up artists that I work with. A lot of people think that it’s just the photographer that gets the results but it’s everybody involved. Everybody has to be on point. Your hair has to be on point, your make-up has to be on point, you’re model has to be on point.”
With seemingly little mentoring, or outside direction, at 24 years old, Glenford has broken into the New York agency scene through sheer determination. In fact, the agencies are now sending their models to his studio here in Baltimore. Granted, Glenford’s work has yet to grace the pages of any major magazines. But what’s impressive is that he’s going after his vision and accomplishing his goals in what seems like record time.
“I turn down several paid projects a week because it’s not the people I want to shoot, it’s not my audience, it’s not the people I’m trying to reach out to so I turn them down. When I started I had a very specific goal. I don’t want to do Sears portraits. It’s not my thing. The people with me, they’re very dedicated. They’re in it for the cause and they believe in what I’m trying to do. They’re trying to bring the same thing to Baltimore.”
Glenford had been educated as a graphic designer, employed as a web developer and is currently building a photography business so I felt compelled to ask him when he started working.
“I was 13 when I started working. There was a dry cleaners near my house. He didn’t want to let me work because I didn’t I have a permit, I was too young, but I talked him into it. He was never there, so I was taking orders, scheduling trucks for pick-ups, and taking care of customers.”
I then asked, “What about Glenford the artist? What is it about fashion photography that inspires you?”
“It’s about fashion but more specifically it’s about aesthetic. I’ve been an art student all my life, for as long as can remember. My grandmother still has drawings from when I was much younger. I didn’t watch t.v. I was drawing my grandmother’s plants or whatever. So it’s alway been there. I often tell people that the camera is like a paintbrush or a pencil, it’s just another way for me to express myself. So, when people ask me how long have you been doing photography, it’s like asking how long has it been since you first picked up a paintbrush. It’s just what I do. I don’t even see it like this is the date when I embarked on my photography journey. I’ve always been into art and creating things and like I said, photography is just another way to do it.“
“So did you grow up around here then?”
“Yeah, I grew up on Edmonson Avenue, out off of Route 40.”
“So what was it like growing up on the West Side?”
“There’s this battle with young black guys, everybody has to be cool, everybody has to be tough. So I was always the outcast and I think that’s why I’m kind of loner. I went through this whole phase where I was trying to be tough but that didn’t work so I joined the AV Club at my school for my junior and senior year.”
Upon finishing high school Glenford recieved his associates degree from CCBC. He then transferred to Stevenson University and is now at the University of Baltimore.
“So you’re playing music too?”
“Yep. One day I said, you know what I want do? Learn how to play the guitar. So, I went to Bill’s Music and I bought a guitar and everybody looked at me like I was crazy. Why would you buy a guitar? And now, I play the guitar. It’s just like when I told people that I wanted to be a photographer and people told me that you can’t do that in Baltimore, there’s no market here for that and I said that there is a market here because there are businesses here. Where are they getting their photography for advertising? They’re outsourcing it.”
Towards the end of this conversation I was even more impressed with Glenford than before and I wondered to myself, “could it be that I’d found the ever-elusive, highly creative individual, absent of eccentricity?”
The answer to that question came in the form of an answer to one that I asked him.
“So where do you see yourself going with all of this. How will you know that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do?”
“I want to be in Africa on the back of an elephant shooting fashion.”
“You want to shoot in crazy locations or it has to be Africa?”
“It has to be Africa, it has to be an elephant. It can’t be giraffe, it can’t be a zebra. I’d settle for either but I still won’t have that aha moment, I have arrived. I want to be in Africa, on an elephant, shooting fashion. You have to set specific goals. If you have a specific goal and if you can visualize it, you can do it. And I can’t get more specific than on an elephant in Africa.”
I wouldn’t give much credence to that statement from most people. But, I give it 2-3 years until someone gets a post card from Glenford, penned on the back of an elephant in Africa. He’s got vision and he’s focused. If he builds on his current momentum he can go anywhere he wants and shoot fashion perched from any animal he can manage to mount.