Gee in CLT
Due to popular demand, we are giving the people TWO bonus episodes! Our first bonus guest is the man behind Shaded Media LLC, one of our regular collaborators, and Charlotte renowned Photographer/Cinematographer: Eugene Bennett, a.k.a Gee.
Originally from North Philly, Gee recalls moving down to Wilmington, NC at a young age where he later attended Laney High. (Shout out to MJ) Trying to escape the small town mentality, he later relocated to Charlotte where he really began to find his own and nail down his niche. After nearly a decade in the Queen City, Gee has been at work.
Besides running Shaded Media LLC, he co owns Disinfecting Solutions LLC, and Crown Life Apparel.
Despite admitting he lives on the outskirts of Charlotte, Bennett raps with Gi on how Charlotte is still such a desirable place to be. The two also discussed Charlotte's immense growth in the last 10 years.
"You gotta put yourself out there"
As the conversation continued, the two remember when they first met. "Well I do remember just busting in on you all's live..." recalled Bennett, who was referring to a self-imposed cameo he made in one of The Black Vibrations Crew's first live broadcasts just a few months ago. Gi later tells the hilarious story from her end, "...I just remember this big tall figure just come up to us!" Ironically enough, Gee was one of our very first supporters shouting us out for covering an NCONSCENE Pop Up last year.
"At the end of the day I was just out there tying to get some footage! She was everywhere so it was hard to get footage of her. I was really just working," reveals Gee who was trying to make sure he had footage of Paige (shout out to Paige), the event's organizer.
The two later discussed how attaching yourself to your brand is great for marketing and networking, something he is still working since he strongly believes in his work speaking for itself.
"You gotta put ya face out there, Paige told me I have to so I can keep growing my business." Our host Gi recalls getting the same advice noting when starting her podcast journey, she just wanted everyone to HEAR her and not SEE her. But now, Gi is no stranger to the camera making sure people know to associate her with her brand.
Shaded Media LLC
Getting to his full time passion, Gee explains to us the origins of his company and how he grew it to what it is now.
"Shaded started off as a magazine where I wanted to spotlight creatives of color. I was writing, publishing, and even printed. Unfortunately, I felt like I was about ten years too late to that. So I rethought the concept and came up with Shaded Media. Shaded is a metaphor for people of color, who are shaded in..." recounts Gee.
Bennett is still able to use his platform to highlight creatives through his "Creator Series" where he has candid 2 minute interviews with creators to allow them to tell their story. "Now instead of a 2 page article I am giving them a 2 minute interview.."
Some of the things Bennett is most thankful for are his patience while building a strong clientele and having strong social proof in his client reviews. He said client reviews allowed him to access new pool of clients which were mainly people he did not know. Now, he has the freedom to pick his battles and choose what work he will take on, a luxury he didn't have when he first started out.
Speaking of starting out, Gee remembers taking photography to the next level when taking product pictures for his clothing brand. He remember taking them on a "little Samsung smart camera and I remember thinking wow, these look alright!" Eventually purchasing his first Nikon D 3300, the rest was history. Gee tells us that now he has been doing photography for over nine years and video for three. He remembers wanting to master photography before jumping into video and recalls taking the plunge by adding wedding videos to his then wedding photo package.
Last January, Gee wrote, filmed, and produced a short film titled "The Fall Off" which he got to premiere at the Music Factory in Charlotte. "I will never forget the film ending and everyone just clapping." Appreciating his growth, Bennett does note that you really have to WANT to get better before getting better. "You need to invest in yourself, the time it takes, the tools, the resources. All of it...People ask me all the time if I went to film school...nah. Not at all. I am all self taught. Trial & Error and Hard work..."
From his work experience, Gee has been able to learn ways to improve his business and make life easier. Expanding on the trials and errors he mentioned, Bennett recalls having to re write his contracts after extreme situations put him in a bind from last minute cancellations to rushed projects. He even tells Gi of a time a client asked him if the photos he turned in were "edited or raw" which is definitely a proverbial slap in the face to most photographers. "I had to put my business hat on instead of my negro hat and explain that they were, and what she wanted was for me to warp them, which is something I do not do...later after talking it out with her husband [who loved the photos] we were able to sort it out..."
Now, Bennett has things in place like "Act of God" clauses to protect himself and the client to make sure they both have a great relationship while they work together.
A self taught man without a doubt, Gee was a pleasure to have and we cannot wait to continue working with and seeing Shaded Media grow.
Peace and Blessings!
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