Victoria Daniels | Staff Writer
Oscar Images, a photography business created by a Hamptonian, is creating quite a buzz on Hampton’s campus with a project that is reinventing the way we view Black History Month.
Leonard Allen-Smith, a current grad student at Hampton University from Hartsdale, New York, is the founder of Oscar Images. Allen-Smith created the business during his undergraduate years and recently named it “Oscar Images” to exemplify the highest form professionalism and pay homage to his grandfather named Oscar who also enjoyed photography.
‘”The Evolution,” the name of this trailblazing project, was conjured while Allen-Smith was working out in the gym. In a sit-down interview, he shared that he wanted to begin a new project and Black History Month came to him being that it was two days before February.
“Black History Month is history, it’s just that… but we never talk about people who are currently making advancements and progressions in the community,” said Allen-Smith.
He seeks to highlight and display the current accomplishments of those people through pictures that would be taken and uploaded to Instagram along with a detailed caption speaking on what makes that person apart of #blackfuturemonth. For each day in February, a new picture will be uploaded to the page.
He began to reach out to his close friends, line brothers, and people that he knew were making moves with their own businesses and brands.
Many were touched by the vision and being given the opportunity to participate, such as Kris Anderson, a junior Sports Management major from Atlanta, Georgia. “Leonard’s vision for the Evolution project is to portray that we must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history,” Anderson said.
This is not a project that Allen-Smith is doing alone. He made sure to give his appreciation to Christina Williams and Miah Harris for all of their hard work and dedication in discovering people to display. He also received help from Randolph Scott, Jr., another Hampton University grad student. “Once we began to upload a few pictures, people immediately reached out asking to be displayed within the project,” Allen-Smith stated.
The team of four began to ask around campus about other people who should be showcased and the project continued to grow.
If you scroll down the Instagram page of Oscar Images, you will see pictures of current students and recent graduates with the left side of their face covered by a shadow. He detailed that he uses a single flash to cast the shadow on the left side of their face to represent his views on black history.
“The Evolution is about progression. When we look at the history of the African- American people, the history has always been darker and every day we move forward, it always gets lighter,” Allen-Smith said. Performing little post production, he maintains the authenticity of the picture and showcases his knowledge on how a camera actually operates.
With a few more days left in Feburary, Allen-Smith and his team work diligently to continue finding great people who are doing great things and have their achievements and future endeavours showcased.
Be sure to follow @oscarimages on Instagram to view The Evolution, stay abreast of future projects, and enjoy the photographic history being created and illustrated.