New York City is a pretty big place. But if you run around in certain circles, you’re very likely to come across the same people. That was how I came to know Avery Liburd, formerly known as Avery Li or DarkShonobi on YouTube where we first met. I’m not sure if he remembers or not but when we ran into each other randomly in Midtown Manhattan, where we exchanged pleasantries and introduced ourselves. Thinking about it now, it’s kind of hilarious. Back then Youtube wasn’t the beast that it is now. That was how we connected, so it made perfect sense. And while it wasn’t the most interesting or awkward situation that I’ve encountered when randomly meeting people I talked to online, it definitely struck a chord. Fast forward a few years later, I now I have this platform. It’s important to return the love that was shown to you from way back.
“We build together”
When I reached out, here is what he had to say.
1) Introduce Yourself.
Avery: Avery Liburd
2) Avery Shoots, DJ, and Raps? Do you wear any other hats?
Avery: I kinda hate saying this, but yeah, I do a lot of things.
I’m a photographer (but who isn’t these days lol), cinematographer, I Deejay, and I used to rap. I’ve kinda been on a hiatus. I also act.
Recently I’ve been getting into writing screenplays.
3) You’re a creative person who expresses himself through various outlets. So what does “being creative” mean to you? And how does that affect how you create?
Avery: Being creative means using your vision to make something that resonates with your being.
It just has to feel right. I have to be feeling the vibes, the inspiration has to be there.
And that’s why it’s so difficult being a creative sometimes because inspiration is often fleeting.
4) Who and what are some of your influences?
Avery: The Most High, Nujabes, Michael Jackson, G-Dragon.
Hip-hop culture obviously. Skate culture. Japanese/Korean culture.
Caribbean culture. My dad, my older brother. My mom.
My friends. I think inevitably you become like the friends you hang with, so make sure you choose wisely.
5) Let’s switch gears a bit. Photography wise, what sort of work do you specialize in? (Still-Life, people, landscape, events etc.)
Avery: Definitely portraits. I love connecting with people on a 1 on 1 level. Let’s get some wine, some popcorn, and we’ll just vibe out. Listen to Nujabes, or whatever music you like.
I wanna get a feel for the person and what they like. Then once they’re completely comfortable and we’ve built a vibe, we can capture some moments.
6) Did you go to school to study photography? And also, how long have you been a photographer?
Avery: Yeah, I studied Commercial Photography for like 2 years before dropping out of school.
Cameras have been in my life since I was small, but I purchased my first DSLR in 2010.
I’ve been working professionally as a photographer since June 2014, when I landed the job of Photographer at a Korean fashion brand called Who.A.U which was located on 34th Street/Broadway in Manhattan.
7) What or who got you started in photography?
Avery: Cameras have always been around me. My dad used to shoot film, with a Canon AE-1, which is funny because when I first started shooting film, I used an AE-1. Great camera by the way.
I picked up the family camcorder sometime around middle school and I used to shoot home movies with that.
My mother was really into shooting those disposable cameras that nobody uses anymore, that you would get developed at CVS or your local pharmacy whatever. So I even used to shoot those.
It wasn’t until I graduated High School that I got serious about photography tho. There were these two kids I used to skate with in High School, and they started taking these dope pictures and posting on Facebook, and I wanted to do the same. So I cashed in some Baby Bonds I had and bought my first DSLR. A Canon EOS Rebel T1i. Haven’t put down the camera since.
8) How would you describe your style? What makes your photographs different from any other person in the field?
Avery: Idk, you tell me. I just try to capture emotion. Sometimes I’ll look at a person and their surroundings, and I’ll immediately see something in my head, and then when I place the subject where I want them to be, and capture the image… perfection.
9) If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Avery: I was gonna say Uchiha Itachi, but nah. He’s just my favorite all time character. I’d probably have to say the flash. But I wouldn’t wanna mess with Time Travel. I’ve seen just how dangerous that can be.
10) Are you an avid fan of nerd culture (Anime, Manga, Comics, Video Games etc)? If so, what are some your favorites?
Avery: Yeah definitely. When I was in Junior High School I used to go to Blockbuster and go to the Anime/Japanese section and watch all the old weird animes and movies like Evangelion, and one of my personal favorites: Tokyo Godfather. (You should include a link to this movie cus I feel like everyone needs to watch it).
My favorite anime is Code Geass. Manga would probably be Rurouni Kenshin. I had over 50 editions of Shonen Jump, but I recently donated them to Bookoff in the city.
The Flash like I said is my favorite comic book character, I also enjoy X-Men and Spiderman, my brother used to be a collector, he still actually has some really old comics somewhere.
Video games, I really like Super Smash brother for Nintendo Game Cube, I recently threw away my game cube and super smash, and I feel like such an idiot. I just couldn’t pack it with me when I moved to the Caribbean. I’m also a HUGE MapleStory fan. From back in the day. 2006-2007 era.
11) Due to the Internet, creative collaborations on a global scale are a lot more accessible. If given the opportunity, Are there any creative’s that you would like to work with?
Avery: Definitely, I’ve been getting into the Underground Korean Hip-Hop scene in Seoul, so one day I’d love to work with artists like Bevy Maco, Punchnello, B-Jyun, OffonOff, DPR Live.
But even though the internet allows for people to be more connected in a sense, I personally want to travel and vibe with these people in real life.
12) What are some of your future career goals? What’s next for Avery Li?
Avery: I don’t really go by Li anymore haha, I use my entire last name now. But um, there’s a movie that I worked on recently as DP (Cinematographer), which will be coming out soon. So just finishing editing that, and make sure everything comes out smoothly.
Also I’d like to move to Korea and write screenplays for Korean movies/Korean dramas.
As for what’s next for me, just stay tuned as my story continues to unfold.
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