Dondre Green is a photographer and multidisciplinary artist based in New York City. As a young adult growing up in the Bronx, Green was first inspired by his city. This environment also motivated him to later start Bronx Narratives, where he acts as the creative director. The platform is used to highlight local stories within his community using images.
We were fascinated to learn more about Green and his use of graphic art combined with photography. Even more, we explore how he is able to tell a story through every photo as not only a photographer but also as an artist.
Dondre Green has been featured in many articles and publications including Forbes, NPR, CBS New York. His content is full of color and movement and makes the viewer feel a connection to his city and the life that surrounds it. Let’s learn more about this fascinating young artist.
Tell us how you got started in shooting in New York City?
My photography journey started in my final year of high school. I was documenting the remaining moments with my friends before we all went off to college.
Being a relatively quiet person, photography became an extension of my voice. Though as the medium became more intriguing to me, I never quite considered it a career choice. As the years passed by, I continued the practice and it slowly but surely became my creative purpose.
How long did it take you to become a full-time artist? Any advice for beginners who are just starting out?
For as long as I can remember, I was always a full-time dreamer. When I became an independent creative, I was solely focused on the sweat equity of learning the craft. I then (organically) formed a community to explore the medium with. Most importantly, I always made sure the experiences were enjoyable—a major key.
My advice to anyone starting out would be—shoot and experiment as much as you can to find your voice. Create work you can stand by. Worry less about social media metrics and find fulfillment in all of the different processes you’ll go through. These things take time.
Is your community in New York City your main inspiration for much of your imagery?
I’m forever grateful to be born and raised in the Bronx. There’s so much texture, culture, and stories in my borough. The work I create is all an extension of my experiences.
What camera and gear is your favorite to use?
You are described as a multidisciplinary artist, can you talk about how other mediums affect your photos?
So during my education journey, I pivoted to study Graphic Design, I wanted to better learn how to brand myself as an artist, in a city full of talented artists. I needed to stand out. In terms of how this affects my photography work, having other mediums at my disposal allows me to fulfill my creative output and bridge new ways of storytelling. It’s almost as if one muscle exercises the other.
Your photos are full of color and action, talk about how you developed your style.
Thank you for sharing that. I think my design background helped me identify color within my photography work. The city has a vibrant energy and it’s not hard to find color, whether that be on storefronts, signage, etc.
You are also the founder of Bronx Narratives, an online publication that aims to reframe the way people view the Bronx. Talk about what inspired you to start this project and how the Bronx has influenced your content.
During a soul searching moment within my career, I was spending more time at home and I started exploring more new places nearby my house. I realized I didn’t really love/know the Bronx that much at the time and needed to explore where that echoed from.
And so I did, along with my captains, Decota Letman and Hoay Smith (who is our art director too). Together, we did an exhibition in December of 2014 exploring “Bronx Narratives” through a short-film and a photography series.
Shortly after in the spring of 2015, we made Bronx Narratives a publication, where we could write our own stories. Since then, it’s become an extension of many ideas—a podcast, printed and online publication, clothing, community events and so much more.
Do you have a favorite photography moment? What happened?
My favorite photography moment was when I had the chance to work with Adidas. They featured me and my story in connection to their NMD sneaker. After a few days of filming the campaign, we had a week-long installation to celebrate the campaign in SoHo. I was able to cherish the moment with family and friends as they stopped by to show support. Above all, it was one of the first times that a major brand invested in me as a human—it was clear and felt from day one. These days, those are the partnerships I’m more interested in.
You have worked with many big brands including Google, Nikon, and Apple. Do you have any business advice for photographers?
Beyond the nature of the opportunity, read those contracts, ask questions and negotiate what you feel you can best show up for.
You seem to really enjoy street photography, tell us about your creative process when shooting.
I love capturing pure honest moments, especially in this ever-changing city. This can be while I’m waiting for a model to arrive or I’m waiting at a traffic light. There’s so much life in the city and I like to pause time and reflect on my surroundings when I’m shooting on the street.
How has your story and images changed over the years?
I think my images have taken a new context as I’ve found more purpose in my work and have had more human experiences. The vision is more concise, clear, and organized.
There’s more depth to the stories. The work in my head and the work I’ve been making these days is more personal. From a production side, it’s more team-centered, more storyboards and there’s more language wrapped around the ideas.
What’s one thing you would go back and tell your younger photographer self?
Don’t overthink it. Produce and release.
Best life advice you have ever been given?
Treat people how you’d like to be treated. It’s simple but necessary.
Any courses, books, or other material you want to share with readers?
We hoped you enjoyed our featured photographer of the month. Dondre Green gives us something we may not find easily on our own such as insights into many mediums of creativity mixed with images. He tells the story of his community and the people that inspire him with every new piece of content.
Take his images as a sign to go out and explore your local streets and tell the stories of the people living around you. If you want to better your work, your own backyard may be just the place to visit. Thank you to Dondre Green for his words of wisdom and time.