• 9.23.14

    How Kareem Black Throws a Party

    If you’re familiar with Kareem Black’s ongoing series FeelsGoodLetsGo, you know he has a unique ability to elicit spontaneity on a level that is arrestingly intimate. It wasn’t any different for his latest shoot with Steve Madden featuring Kylie and Kendall Jenner. The last time he shot for Steve Madden, both Jenners were in front of his camera as well. But this time they had some experience behind them and the results were a little different.

    The Jenner sisters are experts when it comes to their public images. “They are used to having cameras on them, they are media trained,” Kareem explains. “We knew each other, we knew what we were trying to do. They kind of got my vibe, and I got theirs. And it was super cool.” It doesn’t hurt that the media storm around these girls helps to relax them in front of the lens. And Kendall is pursuing a career in modeling, taking it seriously as a job. They’re pros.

    The other half of making sure the shoot is as successful as possible is building trust with the Jenner girls. It was their second shoot together, and after seeing the results of the first campaign they knew they were in safe hands with Kareem. “We’re building up this trust between us. I think that trust is super, super important. Especially if you’re like them. They don’t want to be caught in off moments,” he says. It’s understandable. The voracious press is hungry for moments that could shed unsavory light for a manufactured story. But after working with Kareem, they knew that wasn’t going to happen. “They gave me latitude to be a lot more spontaneous, a lot more kinetic,” Kareem says.

    There’s a balance between the trust and the spontaneity. Kareem tries to keep that balance in place by having a simple philosophy in his shoots. “I want to have a really fun vibe on set, I just don’t want it to be stressful,” he explains. It’s not brain surgery. “My mom’s a doctor and she heals people for a living. We’re taking pictures. I want the vibe to be super light.” The feeling on set ends up similar to the parties that Kareem stalks for FeelsGoodLetsGo, which was partly the goal. That party atmosphere makes for an authentic good time that cannot be faked. “I want people to have a good time. If people are actually having a good time, I think it comes through,” he explains.

    The party vibe on set was so strong that it kind of turned into a real party. The shoot was on Kareem’s birthday. “Kylie and Kendall ended up singing me ‘Happy Birthday.’ I felt like the President of the United States. It was insane.” And that playful insanity shows up in the images, just like Kareem said they would.

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