Kadeem Cobham – ArrogantWatcher

As the ArrogantWatcher, Kadeem observes and captures what he feels at the moment through his photos, resulting in honest and evocative visual narratives that command your attention. Check his story out below.


 

Say hello to Kadeem:

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Where are you from?  Where have you been?

I was born in Springfield, MA and currently reside in Palm Bay, FL, otherwise known as the Space Coast. I’ve traveled a lot around the states – so far, I’ve been to Puerto Rico, Virginia, Chicago, Atlanta, Indiana, and New York.


What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?

For my bucket list, I want to develop my photography into a brand. It’s cool to look at images on computers and phones, but even better when you can implement your art in ways that are tangible. I want to create ArrogantWatcher into a name that goes beyond simply photos.


How would you describe your visual style?

My style is really minimal. I like to shoot things as they are and not have my work look rehearsed. To me, the best images are the ones that you catch at the right moment. My eye constantly scans for what would look great to photograph. I drive around and see little things that I find photographic quality in. When it comes to post-producing my work, I have a few go-to presets that I’ve developed to give my shots a consistent look. When people see it, I want them to know it’s my photo without even having my name on it.

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How do you find your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from looking at the works of older photographers. I actually studied a lot of Fred Stein’s work a few months ago and loved his street photography. He found the essence in everything and everyone he captured. It makes me want to go out and take my own images and find beauty in my surroundings.


Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?

Like any creative, photographers get blocks too. I usually overcome it by taking a little bit of time from shooting and occupying myself with other things like music or watching documentaries. The worst thing to do is to force an image you aren’t a fan of.


Tell us the significance behind the name of your photographic identity, Arrogant Watcher.

I get asked often what ArrogantWatcher means, but it pertains a lot to my personality, my outlook on life, and my photography. The Arrogant part of me isn’t due to me being conceited or to think I’m the best, but rather, I have a very boisterous outlook on the world. I can say I have pride in what I do, and I translate it into my photos. Watcher is actually due to me being pretty observant. I don’t really talk much when I’m around people and I’m a really observant person. I tend to read people by body language and their faces. That too ties into a lot of my photos. So when you put both meanings together, it basically means that I have a vibrant outlook on the things I see.


Regardless of the subject matter, your work evokes a very raw and honest quality – is this a skill that has evolved over time or has this always been present in your storytelling?

I’ve always loved to tell stories. I would say my subject matter has evolved over time due to simply going to new places and meeting people. The more I see and people I meet, the more intrigued I am to really creating images that tell stories. I like to speak with people on the street or seeing a raw situation occur that I can capture. I always say the best stories aren’t ones that you tell, but ones that you feel.


You’ve worked with a lot of clients – what was it like to land your first big job?

My first big job would have to be with ROXY. I was brought along to shoot their fitness event by my friend, Dalton, and his production company, NPI Productions. It was a huge deal for us as ROXY is a major company, but it was an amazing opportunity to create content for their social media and their FITNESS tour campaign. It was a great feeling because I’ve been familiar with the brand from selling their products when I worked in retail.

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Tell us about your career.  How did you get into it?

I’ve been shooting professionally for almost a year and have been on a rollercoaster ride. I was originally shooting just as a side hustle while working, but my passion for it was overwhelming, and I knew I wanted to do more. I got into shooting full-time by default when I was laid off from my job as an Account Manager for a cardiac monitoring company. The timing made me take the jump as around the time I was let go, I was working on my first photo exhibit. Things just kind of fell into place and I decided to tackle it full-time.


What types of photography do you do?

Currently, I shoot street, portrait, event/concerts, and brand photography. My favorite would have to be street photography. I love to just explore my surroundings and capture what I see. It’s also readily accessible any time of the day, so if I want to go hit the streets, I can at my convenience. The realness of street photography appeals to me as well. I regularly scout and find locations and people that I vibe with and capture.

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Of the photos you’ve taken – what are your three favorites?

That’s difficult to figure out because I’ve taken thousands of images, but if I could pick three it would have to be:

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I took this one by Midway Airport in Chicago. It’s one of my gems because of the perspective of the shot; it almost looks surreal, but it was all done in camera. It’s one of those images that I knew I couldn’t recreate, so I made sure the timing was perfect.

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With the current state of cops and citizens, this photo really stuck out with me. I was finishing up a shoot and walking back to my car when I saw three cops detain this man. I wasn’t sure what the outcome was going to be, so I stood at a distance, put on my 85 1.4, and started shooting. The cops afterwards told me to put the image on Facebook so they could have it. True story.

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This is one of my gems from the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. It was my first hurricane, and from the reports, it was going to be pretty bad. Thankfully, the storm shifted east 20 miles before reaching the coast line of our area. I went out to document the damage and this one was probably the toughest I had seen. It shows the intensity of the storm, but also shows it could’ve been way worse.

Photography is competitive.  How do you stand out?

Simple, I don’t compete. I stay in my own lane and shoot what I feel to shoot. The minute you analyze competition is the minute you lose sight on your work. I admire other photographers and always give props to those who do well with it, but I don’t like to compete by any means.

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If you could photograph anywhere in the world, where would it be?

If I could photograph anywhere in the world, it would have to be Japan. I’ve always been fascinated by the sights and culture there. I have a few photographer friends who’ve went and they all say it’s a great place. I would like to explore Tokyo, Kyoto, and Fukushima.


Who was the most unforgettable model you’ve ever met?

Though he’s not a model, I would say being able to sit in on a studio session with Joey Bada$$ was unforgettable. I got to meet him at Fools Gold Day Off in Ft. Lauderdale a few weeks prior, and I was surprised he remembered me. I’ve listened to his music for years and saw him progress to the status he’s at now, so to be able to meet with him and shoot him while in the studio was incredible. He’s a real talented dude.

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How do you express yourself through your photography?

I’ve always been pretty creative, so photography allows me to be creative with my surroundings. I feel a greater outlook on my surroundings and myself that people have grown to associate with me. I also express myself a lot with editing, which is my favorite part of photography. I like to try out different tones to create a feeling to a photograph. Sometimes, my mood is brought out in certain images.

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What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?

  1. Gear is what you make of it. Don’t feel limited because of what you shoot with. The camera, like a paintbrush, won’t create art for you. Make the most of your gear and focus on the progression you want to make for yourself.
  2. Don’t follow trends because you think it will guarantee you likes and follows on Instagram. Shoot what you like because you like it, not because it will get you famous. That goes along with my saying, “Do it for the Heart, Not for the Hype.”
  3. Have fun shooting and don’t make photography more stressful than it is. Continue to shoot and improve your style depending on the area you want to excel in. Develop a distinct style that’s all your own.

What has photography done for you as a person?  How has it changed you?

Photography has changed me a lot. Prior to picking up a camera, my focus was on music production and making beats, but unfortunately, I was left with a lot of setbacks. Photography came from a time when I was feeling creatively stuck in my life and opened myself up to seeing and trying new things. Along the way, I’ve met amazing people and done things outside of my comfort zone. Photography has allowed me to express myself and help me be more open to the world.


What will you be doing five years from now?

Being 30 years old, financially set living in a decent house. I’ll have my branding building traction and also open a few art galleries around the country. I’ll be comfortable and living happily with my lady and just enjoying the results of the work and sacrifices I make today.


For anyone that wants to get in touch with Kadeem, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Website: www.arrogantwatcher.com

Facebook: Profile

Instagram: @ArrogantWatcher

500px: Profile


Kadeem, thank you for sharing your story with us! 🙂

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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