I was born and raised in Oakland. I’ve owned a small business here since I was 23 years old. Most of my work was shot in Oakland and I can honestly say that my eye has been shaped by the landscape and artistic diversity culture here so much that you can see Oakland’s influence in my other work. Because I never left Oakland, I have grown and evolved with the city—each construction project, each new elected official, each protest, each shooting, each new hip restaurant, each random enriching cultural event has allowed me to be part of and experience and learn about so many other cultures. I believe that creates empathy. Oakland has not been a melting pot—yet. It has been beautiful difficult ugly enlightening and eclectic. We all retained our respective cultures—simply by allowing others to express theirs. It’s the Bay way. I’ve wanted to capture the spirit of the city. In this piece is a young woman I watched grow up—I’d styled her hair since she was 15 years old,. She was embarking on a journey—alone around the world. She went on to live in France, ride a camel in Africa, literally run into Jay-Z and Beyonce entering a museum in Paris, France, run in marathons all over, but not before insisting to shoot semi-nude baring all of her insecurities. And It was 45 degrees outside. She needed some books—I suggested we shoot in my old neighborhood and the two houses my family rented for more than 30 years—652 and 654 West MacArthur.