Behind The Lens: Tejah Coffey
Tejah Coffey is an Atlanta-based photographer that simply can’t be boxed in. During her childhood, she was heavily influenced by film which grew into a passion by high school. There’s no formula in regards to what demands Tejah’s focus in photography. She’s shot artists like Payton Moore, Rubi Rose, and Tokyo Jetz as well as done BTS work for campaigns with Nike and so on.
Tejah offers a unique perspective behind the lens, paying attention to both the muse and how they fit their landscape and backgrounds. “Due to Atlanta’s massive melting pot influence, growing up here has expanded my creative pallet to appreciate cultures and art from all over the world,” she states. When looking for inspiration or direction, Tejah Coffey is a great place to start as she pulls from several cultures and artistic views that were introduced over the years.
For our latest Behind The Lens interview, we spoke with Tejah Coffey about being a product of Atlanta, working on projects with Rubi Rose and Payton Moore, and much more! Read below.
Hey Tay! When and how did you get started in photography?
I began photographing around 2014 during my senior year of high school. What started out as a childhood, long love for film turned into a passion for photography. The process was much faster than making a whole movie, and it was super fun to transform my friends into supermodels. Eventually, I was able to make a living pursuing photography full-time. I’ve been doing that for about two years now.
It’s really obvious that you cover a wide range of topics in photography – people, product, city, documentary, and even video. Where does this diversity come from?
Photography and video stands as a great medium of expression for me, which allows me to use it to cover so many different topics. It’s really cool to see how my camera can convey so many messages and stories.
Atlanta is such a huge hub for multiculturalism and culture, how does it influence your work?
I’m very blessed to be from such a multicultural space provided here in Atlanta. Due to Atlanta’s massive melting pot influence, growing up here has expanded my creative pallet to appreciate cultures and art from all over the world. With my parents being from the West End of Louisville, Kentucky and South Memphis, Tennessee so I was blessed to experience these cultures, as well as the culture of Atlanta. Since Atlanta is a huge melting pot for African Americans I found myself diving into all kinds of music, foods, and traditions. They all have made me who I am today.
You shot some photos of Rubi Rose during her “Back In The Booth” music video some time back, walk me through that experience.
The experience was really inspiring. I pride myself on always being a student; taking every opportunity I can to better my own craft. Being able to witness Rubi execute her vision with the team was really eye-opening. Her attention to detail was keen, and she didn’t move forward until she thought the shots were perfect. She worked closely with the director, Terrius Mykel, versus being just a yes man. I really liked that. I challenge myself to move with that much precision in my own endeavors, it makes a difference.
You also had the chance to work on Payton Moore’s “Align” visual effort, what did that mean to you?
It was super dope. Payton came up with the visual concept, and it was the first video I constructed together myself. The crew, the shot list, and the overall execution of the project was a big challenge. Again, it was such a huge learning experience, but overall we had so much fun making the video. We both took a lot away from the project as creatives. Now we are currently working on some new visual concepts for her new upcoming project. I’m really excited to see what we make together and how we both grow in our crafts.
If you can recall, what’s been your favorite project that you got to work on thus far?
My favorite project was surprisingly a commercial I had to make for the Atlanta Artisans Market. I was challenged with writing a short, comical script that would not only make the audience chuckle but advertise the up-and-coming market. I think the writing aspect alone is the reason it’s my favorite project. Seeing something go from paper to the screen was super fulfilling. This once again reminded me of my passions for filmmaking and has even encouraged me to start the process of producing some of the scripts I’ve written over the years.
What is one thing you would change about the industry?
One thing I’d love to change about the industry is the moral responsibility artists and labels have to credit their photographers and directors. Photographers and directors are super important in captioning awesome moments and times for artists. A lot of thought and effort can go into planning, executing, and editing a photoshoot or music video. Although these creatives are behind the scenes, their personal ideas and forms of self-expression are also shared in the process. It’s a collaboration and should be respected as such.
What’s one goal you would love to achieve in the next year?
I’m learning this is a journey and not a destination, so I’ve been learning grace and allowing patience and persistence to lead me through this journey. With that being said by next year, I want to see two of the scripts I’ve written come to life. I cannot wait to direct my own short films and share stories that I resonate strongly with. Also, understanding that I am and will always be a student of this craft & hope to resume studying filmmaking at GSU in the Spring.
If you enjoyed our interview with Tejah Coffey, check out our chat with Marquise Eppinger!