TGC Interviews Chérmelle Edwards, The Coffeetographer 1

Who would have thought there was another individual who allowed coffee into their creative outlet just like I do?! Meet Chérmelle everybody

IG Caption: "roses love sunshine, violets love dew, hittin day 2 @coachella twirling for Head and the Heart in thrift and vintage."

IG Caption: “roses love sunshine, violets love dew, hittin day 2 @coachella twirling for Head and the Heart in thrift and vintage.”

[ people lover. coffee culture documentarian. curator. photographer. thrifter. storyteller. I believe Picasso “all that I imagine is real” ]

–as we learn in her Instagram bio. I was instantly drawn in by Chérmelle’s brand. I mean, ‘The Coffeetographer’ is downright brilliant. She also showcases ridiculously amazing photography skills and gives us all a heads up on some of the best coffee shops across America.

Let’s get into her story!

IG Caption: "seize the day! with 'carpe diem' espresso from @toms, nut milk from Juice and a gigantic dose of confidence this barista served me the best 'blind' cappucino my palette has tasted all year. @badboyphil lives his moniker #cupUp"

IG Caption: “seize the day! with ‘carpe diem’ espresso from @toms, nut milk from Juice and a gigantic dose of confidence this barista served me the best ‘blind’ cappucino my palette has tasted all year. @badboyphil lives his moniker #cupUp”

Please tell us a little about yourself (and your brand): smdlr itself is an acronym for small, medium and large. Its an ode to traditional coffee cup sizes in coffee when ordering it was quite simple, as well, it’s a nod to the historical roots of coffee culture. Online, smdlr, documents culture through the arts, curates the Arts as it exists online and within physical spaces so that it can liv online eternally and it creates culture by using photography and words to present it as such: a culture. Some of the sites and my personal themes are coffee and music, coffee and style and coffee and story how they play together and independently to create a cohesive coffee culture. However, the most important tool I believe is the visual, the actual photography of the people themselves, so, its why I’ve called coffeetography – new, new photojournalism as it aims to capture subjects from within a specific context, a specific space.

With the invention of instagram, its inspired a new way to look at coffee culture. With it, I can document the simplicity of what I’m drinking to the space I’m in, but this wasn’t the idea when I started a few years ago, but I’m happy to include that as part of my documentary focus.

IG Caption: "kickin it"

IG Caption: “kickin it”

Help TGC Readers understand the term coffeetographer™ and how did you go about coining the term (which we absolutely adore, by the way!)? Thank you for adoring it! The coffeetographer™ is me, responding to humanity through photography complimented by text, inspired by independent coffee culture. It is a visual response from connecting and communing with the people.

The name came to me while I was in Brooklyn. I was actually running in Prospect Park, and it had been in my consciousness for a while. I’m not sure how it started, but I was attempting to get at something that would describe the feelings I was having in the space and specifically about the human connection I was having towards the people.

“Coffeetography is about capturing something immediate, raw and that deals with some innocence of the human element.”

It is always about me and a feeling I’m having towards someone and by extension what any of us could feel. And, it’s articulating the moments that are captured. .. So, its so much more than the coffee, always has been, always will be. Coffee is just a tool, and, a wonderful one.

How long have you been a coffeetographer? I started shooting in 2009 and posting in 2010.

IG Caption: "I had nothing, but I had everything." #willyoucoffeeme #coffeetography

IG Caption: “I had nothing, but I had everything.” #willyoucoffeeme #coffeetography

What inspires you? Life and everything about it. But, to be more specific, I’m inspired by people, physical paper, the sun, the beach, the continent of Africa, vintage, music, I love Thomas Newman, art, I love Picasso, short stories.

Is there a certain time or condition in which you feel most creative or inspired? I think creativity is happening all the time inside of me and inside of us. But at times, we consciously tap into it, and then we feel creative or are creative. So, those times when I feel more tapped in are when I go to the beach, when I am moving or traveling in enclosed spaces like a car, a plane, or a subway train. I also love the time of day that’s before dawn, like 3 a.m. its uber-quiet and my senses are hyper-creative.

IG Caption: "creating an #instameet with the uber cool creatives @chaunceyjacks + @keithvillareal_ ... will you come? stay tuned..."

IG Caption: “creating an #instameet with the uber cool creatives @chaunceyjacks + @keithvillareal_ … will you come? stay tuned…”

Would you consider your work as a coffeetographer to be your passion or calling life? If so, when you did have that a-ha moment? I feel like its part of my passion in life. I feel it’s an expression of a lot of my interests, people, healthy voyeurism, cinematography, and storyteller. I’ve always told stories, its part of my matriarch bloodline so the longer I do this, I feel like I’m just tapping deeper into who I am. Funny, I feel coffeetography has such a long way to go in its development of what I envisioned for I a couple years ago, but the journey of being it, will take care of that for me.

IG Caption: "let where you choose to be, be the ride of your life" the c. #coffeetography near @elabrew @coachella

IG Caption: “let where you choose to be, be the ride of your life” the c. #coffeetography near @elabrew @coachella

One of my favorite elements of your work is how easily you capture a personality in your photography. I feel like I want to meet so many of the people you’ve captured; they seem so full of life! How do you go about choosing the people you will photograph? Thank You. You know Isis, they choose me. They have an energy to them that pulls me in, and I follow it. I’ve learned not to question it but to trust and allow that moment, to reveal the humanity in them that’s calling me, and asking for a voice. These subjects are full of life! I also know I approach them full of life too, I’m at wonder, in awe, with joy when I approach them, because imagine, something about who they are being, is connecting with who I’m being. So, its unquestionable to not one capture it and two, share it in some form.

I am a lover of all things coffee. I’m so glad we have that in common. I do a lot of my work as a writer in a variety of coffee shops and cafes as I’ve found that you do as well. Have you come across any shops that are particularly your favorite? If so, where was it and what about that place did you love (the ambience, the environment, the city, etc.)?

Yes, I love coffee. Coffee shops become preferred spaces for me based upon what I’m doing or who I’m being. So, I usually like to illustrate that by say, if I’m going on a coffee date with a friend it would be something quaint and cozy like Bluebird in the East Village in N.Y. or Fix in Echo Park in L.A., if I want to people watch and get swept away in a fine drink like a flat white its Café Grumpy in Brooklyn or anything with coffee and milk at Intelligentsia Venice. If I’m looking for community and to be really social I love Toby’s Estate in Williamsburg or Menotti’s in Venice, there’s always great music and it’s a great rooted coffee culture scene, in the best way possible. And, if I’m going to a place to put my head down and work its La Colombe in Noho or Graffiti in L.A. And, as of late, what I like design wise is AP Café in Bushwick and when I make it before closing hours, Bar Nine Collective in Culver City.

IG Caption: "portrait of a photographer teaching herself how to shoot on film." #growing

IG Caption: “portrait of a photographer teaching herself how to shoot on film.” #growing

How awesome is it being able to travel around the world doing something that you love to do? What place along your journey would you say has been your favorite to date? It is awesome. I feel blessed and privileged to create a job that allows me to be in a space that I consider like my second home. Portland was transformational for me and that was two years ago. But Shoreditch, London a few years ago was my favorite, and then I wasn’t doing smdlr or coffeetography, so I’m anxious to return.

IG Caption: "new month. new cut."

IG Caption: “new month. new cut.”

Do you have a favorite piece of artwork you’ve created so far? If so, what is it, what inspired it, and what makes it your favorite?

Right now, it’s between a photo I created during this past fashion week of the Urban Bush Babe Cipriana Quinn and her sister TK Wonder. It was a really quick shot in a fast moment. But, I love it! As well, an art piece of a blind contour I did, of a skateboarder who was riding the train in Brooklyn. He had massive locks, tied up and the most incredible swag. I sketched with the blind contour method and in less than a minute – he’s still one of my favorite pieces.

IG Caption: "light catcher." #coffeetography

IG Caption: “light catcher.” #coffeetography

Is there anything you’d like to share with TGC readers?
Ha, that we are of the divine. There is much waiting for us if we allow. The journey of the creative is an interesting one, and we all are getting more used to calling in what we want and need to live and be who we are. If there is a hunch you feel for something, a nudge, the slightest hmmm, I wonder if, follow it, there is gold, not just at the end of the tunnel, but all along the way. And the gold is developing you.

Don’t forget to stay connected with Chérmelle and her community through the following links:

smdlr the group | smdlr the page | smdlr twitter | smdlr tumblr | | The Coffeetographer on IG


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