5.25.2019

A Nail Date with Shamaal

Shamaal. A name that only few can match to a face.


On a normal Sunday, you can find Shamaal amongst friends and family sticking true to his deep sense of community engraved in him since he was a young boy growing up in the Virgin Islands.

This particular Sunday, he came to visit his favorite niece [Nu, of course] and indulge in a home-cooked meal while getting pampered. Per usual, he was sporting a cap, this time it was white with a graphic that read "Girls Trip".

Shamaal is a native Cruzan turned ATLien. His passion is behind the camera -- whether it be photography or videography.

Each of Shamaal's photo's tell a story, so while you look through, I challenge you to create a scenario behind each of the pictures.


This was Shamaal's first manicure.
 Pre-manicure:

Do you believe in conspiracy theories?
Of course I do
So what's your favorite?
hmm anything to do with music like Prince and MJ's death, everything about their music. Its' bigger than what we think -- there's always more to it.
Like the Bill Cosby situation, when you're making money off a talented person you'll try to cover up anything they do. All this stuff came up about him drugging people when he was trying to create a TV Network.
Everything is a conspiracy, life, even the way I move.
Kanye West could probably tell you so much. People thinks he's crazy but he's trying to tell us his truth.


What did you try really hard to like but just couldn't?
Back home (in St. Croix) it was trendy to wear shoes that were too small for your feet. It wasn't cool to have big feet. I fucked my feet up doin that. I still have pretty feet tho.

How do you sleep?
I go to sleep on my side because I usually fall asleep watching something, but I always wake up on my back.


Why did you start photography?
Me and my friends always looked cool.
"I feel like nobody would see my friends the way I do."
One day I said ima start taking pictures of my friends to show people my perspective.

When I moved to Atlanta I noticed everybody has their own style -- wearing whatever and having crazy hair colors -- and they're not afraid to be themselves.
I was fascinated.

What is the certain way you had to look?
You wouldn't see someone in the islands with tight pants with pink hair. We have a certain image that you're supposed to subscribe to. I don't feel like that's carried up in the states at all. I feel like people from the islands and people in general should travel and expand their mind.


How do you choose the people you shoot?
I like people who aren't afraid.
I like to uplift people and boost their ego -- find a way to highlight their impurities.

Do you hard-edit?
I like to keep things natural.
My motto is "keep that shit raw".
I've never edited on my computer ever. I only edit on my phone.
The people I shoot may say "Could you take this thing off my nose?" but I tell them to go ahead and then send me the picture after you finish.


Do you have favorite picture?
I do photo sets.
There's one where I would always place Nigel with a girl.
I try to find genuine, real connection between the people I shoot.
You could look in the eyes and the faces and know it's real. It makes the picture timeless.
I've always been good at choosing people who's energy would click, and its deeper than just seeing "you would look cool next to this person".
People ask me how I meet these people in my life but to keep people around you gotta move a certain way. You could know them, but to keep them is the problem.


Where do you wanna travel?
I wanna go China and Japan .
I wanna see what it's like to not know the language and see how I'll communicate and test myself.
A close friend of mine told me "you could go anywhere in this world and I feel like you could come out with real connections and bonds".


How did you get into photography?
When I first started I was nervous to tell instagram I was a photographer - I didn't want to come off corny.
There was a point where my instagram was all pictures of me.
So my dilemma was "how do i bring a new face on my page and not make people feel uncomfortable".
The first guy I posted got a really positive response and boosted my confidence.
I started with things I knew -- little kids on the tennis court and my brothers.

Have you ever been starstruck?
(between me and you, I was hoping that Shamaal would land on this question since he always seems to be the coolest of the cool....I wanted to know if anybody had the capability to throw him off his game)

When I first moved to Atlanta, I went out to a club with my brothers and I saw the Migos and Meek Mill in the VIP section.
I made my way over there and everybody was calling me the fourth Migo. The night ended before I could get a picture.
On our way back to the car, the Migos pulled up in a limo and hopped out since they remembered my face to take a picture.
Looking back its crazy because people will ask to work with me and I'm the one that has to pick and choose.

what's your favorite quote?
live by the gun, die by the gun


Shamaal's energy is undeniably infectious. Somehow he leaves you feeling motivated, empowered, and special. Check out his work on instagram @shamaal.

After the conversation:

If you could recommend anyone to participate in A Nail Date with Kim Cao, who would it be?
Soon Sun

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