Allen Cooley: Under the Lens


You have to BE paying attention sometimes to recognize genius. Genius is not always the loud , attention –whore that craves all things attached to the spotlight. Sometimes genius is quiet. It often comes in the still small voice that our elders taught us about.

“I’ve often wondered what my song will BE? What my story will BE from the lips of those telling it?” These are the musings of genius in the form of Allen Cooley. Very soft-spoken and not one to BE caught on the other side of the lens, it’s hard to dispute Mr. Cooley’s talent BEhind the lens.

“I see such amazing talent around me, either too out of the box for mainstream society to accept them or to much like whats already in rotation and truthfully i BEcome even more lost within myself. See, I’ve realized you’ve got to “Play the game”, that is mantra of sorts.”

One visit to Allen’s studio in Decatur, Georgia and it’s apparent that his space – where many of his most prized pieces of photography have BEen crafted – also reflects his quiet-yet-diligent demeanor. Not flashy at all, but if you stop to take a look around, you realize you are in a good space. A few months back we were treated to a “average day” of actor-comedian Kevin Hart. While Hart commanded the attention in the room we were all made to feel comfortable by the abstract white space in the room. The space invites you to create your own reality. A pro like Kevin Hart knew what to do with that space and our abdominal muscles paid the price.

“You ever have a friend that was a great singer, but they sang in a manner that was different? Different as in, not Usher, or Just BEiBEr, or whoever else is out right now? They’ve got a great sound and an amazing talent but its just not whats hot right now? Well, when you ask that person why don’t they change to fit in, that’s like a slap in the face right? The discussion for me always takes an interesting turn. I often ask so what do you want to BE known as? Some may say great, or this or that? Then the next question is, who is it that will BE calling you these things (ie. great, etc) ? If he/she refers to society in any shape or form as BEing the group of people to validate them as great, then they’ve got to ‘Play the game’”.

Take a look at Cooley’s work. The precision and focus that shows in each piece represents the genius of a man that knows how to keep the attention on the stars – making a conscious effort not to BE a star himself – and capture shots that offer more personality in the object of the shoot rather than emphasizing surroundings or juicing up sex appeal. Cooley has the ability to capture the extra-fly in anyone who is the object of his lens.

“The reality is that i want to effect my culture! I want to BElieve that I’m assisting in the growth of a people, not just a black people, not just a photographer culture, not just any one specific person place or thing, but universal culture. Photography is that to me! You show me a person that either does not own a camera or does not have a picture of themselves somewhere and I’ll show you a mini leprechaun in your back pocket cause you are the luckiest person in the world, to have found someone without one of those two things!”

Mr. Cooley is part of a community that understands that the art speaks for itself. Controversy does not have to BE manufactured. Every person is authentically controversial and his pieces capture that. He is not one to boast about himself if he is his own biggest cheerleader, that celebration goes on inside rather than out. Authentically private, we were fortunate to capture these musings from his blog Life Through a Lens! Thank God for “delusional writing” that he is quick to point out is not drug-induced. Cooley’s work can BE found in the attached pictorial(s) and on the Lil Chuckee and Kevin Hart covers for BE Magazine.

“Although there are exceptions to the rule, I BElieve there are very few people on the face of the earth that don’t have something to do with photographs either BEing taken of them or taking them of someone else. Furthermore, if that is the case, and I am creating images, then I’m left with the notion that I participate in the understanding of that cultural phenom…o yea, BEcause I’m a photographer I’ve got to post a picture so…”

For more on Allen Cooley and his photography, visit http://www.allencooley.com/

About the author

0c4g78x has written 51 articles for BE Entertained Magazine

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