Into the Lens with Chynna Keys!
Take a moment and picture this. You just arrived at a well-anticipated music festival, and elation fills you from head to toe. Beads of sweat slowly making its way to a place where the sun don't shine, but it does not matter. Why? Because galvanizing energy fills the air emerging from the reverberant bass. Your beloved artist comes on stage, and you somehow managed to be front and center. Being so enamored in the moment, you forgot to take a picture to catch the moment forever.
Seeing reality with your own eyes can leave you breathless but the ability to capture a moment filled with raw emotion, strobe lights and roaring fans takes talent and is a gift in itself. This is where Chynna Keys comes into play. Chynna Keys is a photographer located in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area. She's taken photos everywhere from Rolling Loud to recently lending her skills to document the #DontMuteDC movement during rallies and impromptu performances from stars and crowds alike. From Cardi B, Lil Uzi Vert to SZA, she's been able to memorialize special moments at events. Her work has been featured in revered publications such as The Washington Post, CNN, DJ Booth and more. Her portfolio varies widely, and she's continuously work on perfecting her craft and producing high-quality content, whether its concerts and festivals, lifestyle or portraits.
I had the privilege to ask Keys a few questions in regards to where her inspiration comes from, surprising moments that came from this creative path and her proudest accomplishment. When asked about what exactly inspired her, she answered, "Seeing other people that I know have worked hard flourish. It keeps me going. In the DMV, there are a lot of photographers, but we truly emphasize community over competition. Everyone wants to see everyone win, and honestly, that pushes me. I'm also inspired by random things; colors, lights, nature, etc."
Hopefully, everyone can agree that the world is a beautiful place, and if we took a second to observe it, we'd find inspiration in a heartbeat regardless of career choice. Having a social circle that is both progressive and believes in unity doesn't hurt either. On Keys' website, she points out that her love of photography began in high school but when asked what about photography specifically that made her want to pursue it, she made it clear that she just really enjoyed capturing art.
"I've always been a very observant person, so when I started just taking my pictures with my phone, it'd be of subjects that I noticed throughout the day. I started enjoying concert photography just from always going to shows and being in the front in GA. I'd take pictures on my phone because I was so close and I was able to take some really dope shots. That's what made me want to start shooting, I wanted to know if I could do this with a legit camera.", she elaborated.
Steadily climbing the ladder to success; however, that may look, you can find yourself having an out-of-body experience. I asked Keys if she ever had that, "I made it" moment. Her response filled with humility, she went into detail discussing a time where she was shooting Wale. "I've had moments like "Dang, is this real life?!" lol. But I still don't think I've had a "wow, I made it" moment. However, I won't say I haven't had amazing moments. Whenever someone that I don't expect to know my work tells me they've seen my work, I'm always in awe. Earlier this year, I was in the crowd shooting and Wale, yes THE Wale, from the stage asked where I was at and brought me on stage to keep shooting. That was definitely one of those "I can't believe this happened" moments." - Chynna Keys
Photography is not for the weak, and when asked what her proudest moment was, Keys made it clear that any progress is good enough to celebrate. She replied, "Photography is the hardest thing I've ever worked at in my life. So honestly, any success I'm proud of. I'm proud of my progress. Recently, I had the opportunity to be on the in-house team for the first annual Dreamville Festival. I was really proud of that because I networked my butt off and just kept working and thankfully, it happened. It's all I wanted for the past year, so I was really grateful that it happened."
In the words of the great J. Cole: “They say anything's possible, you gotta dream like you've never seen obstacles.”