When someone captures a human face, whether on film or in a sketch, there is a unique complexity behind each subject. Looking into the face of local photographer Yohance Bailey, one can see many things – the kindness that fuels his career as a nurse and his commitment to his community, the passion that drives his small business, and the joy of a man aiming to get the most out of life.
As a young boy, Yohance called the Caribbean home. Born in Guyana, he moved to St. Lucia when he was around 6 years old. Yohance always dreamed of being an artist, and while he was told that a career as an artist was not financially viable, that never stopped him from pursuing his passion. In high school he took art classes as a hobby and in between time spent studying, he discovered his love for drawing people. A perfectionist, as still evidenced in his works today, Yohance could spend weeks working on a single portrait aiming to capture a seamless understanding of his subject’s emotions.
In August of 2000, Yohance left St. Lucia to move to the United States. A year later, he started to pursue his degree in Computer Science from Borough of Manhattan Community College.
Just one year into his life in America and one month into his college career, tragedy struck not even ten blocks away from his new campus, as the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001. For the remainder of his time at college, classes were moved from buildings to trailers, reconstruction was everywhere and face masks had to be worn to protect students and staff from aerial debris.
Yohance knew he could not let this new challenge prevent him from moving forward. After completing his degree, and taking some time to work in his field, he finally moved to Broome County in 2009. Yohance believes that life is short, and beautiful, and that there are so many things to see and experience.
While continuing to work on his art, he discovered the next steps in his journey: obtaining his nursing degree and license from Broome-Tioga BOCES and then training as a mixed martial arts fighter across the North East under names like Joe Lauzon and Ray Longo.
“I wanted to find the career that was right for me. I wanted to do something impactful, and while being an MMA fighter was certainly impactful in some ways, in the end for me that truly was nursing, and I found that here. I like the fact that I get to feel good for a living by helping others.”
A jack of all trades, and striving to be master of one, Yohance now spends countless hours each day, studying how he can bring the complexity of human beings out in the art that he creates. Several months ago, Yohance picked up a camera again, having dabbled in photography in his early twenties snapping pictures of his children, and that is when things clicked.
Unlike selling his commissioned portraits, which after weeks of work could feel like selling pieces of himself, Yohance shifted and started his small business: Yohance Bailey Photography.
For him, photography was just a different form of producing art and it brought him back to his youth where his art centered around people.
To take what was once a hobby and elevate it to a business, Yohance knew he had to hit the books. What used to take developers hours to produce in a dark room, Yohance now creates digitally in Adobe Lightroom, his preferred photo editing software.
Learning how the color, contrast, frame, and even the models all interact before a photo gets to the editing stages is incredibly important, giving him more time to focus on making the final product. To him, the largest tool in producing his art is the people. A lot of the models he works with have never modeled before. It all comes down to how he, as the photographer, can get them motivated to engage with their surroundings and relax.
Since starting his business only a few months ago, the Yohance Bailey Photography team has grown from just himself to include make-up artist, Yemi Taylor, agent, Michael Hague, and a partnership with Faded Films Media to cover event videography.
Now, with over a dozen professional shoots under his belt, he has streamlined his services under YohanceBailey.com, allowing those interested to browse the packages offered from small personal photoshoots to weddings, view his schedule, and make appointments all online.
“I put 200% of myself into everything that I do, and when I am not taking pictures or studying photography and editing techniques, I am constantly thinking of what I can do to improve my business. The energy you put out is what you will get back.”
Yohance attributes a lot of his recent success to the movement in Broome County started by community member Sulaiminah Burns known as Support Black Business 607. Promotion and getting the word out about his business was critical to getting it off the ground, and through the support of the community, he was able to accomplish just that.
When asked what he believed made Broome County home to a good life, he responded without hesitation that it was the same thing he loved to show in his art, the people. Yohance met his wife here in Broome County, where they raise their two daughters.
“There are good schools here where our children are afforded lots of opportunities like theater or volleyball, or whatever they want to pursue. Our neighbors are friendly, and we are lucky to be a part of an open-minded and supportive community.”
As an artist, Yohance says it is encouraging that there are more people doing the things they love here, more artists here contributing to the arts and culture scene within Broome County, and he hopes he is doing his part.
Contrasting color and unity through photography, the tagline of his business, he says is the representation of how he views the world. With a portfolio full of diversity, he hopes to continue to produce photography to make you pay attention.
Yohance Bailey Photography is a part of why #Broomeisgood.