Starting Milk Chocolate Productions

Going into the summer of 2019, I had never shot a music video. I’d done commercial work, short films, etc.––all set to music––but never an actual music video.

The closest I’d gotten to a music video was a probate video I did for an Alpha Kappa Alpha––Drake/ISU’s small but mighty black sorority. I cut it together with Lil Baby’s “Yes Indeed” and Quavo’s “Ice Tray,” both of which were super fun to edit.

The video was pretty amateurish––the cameras I used did not help with the overall quality. Still, this was the first time I truly enjoyed the editing process, and I think that was due in large part to the music.

I’ve been working in video for my entire life, but I’d never owned my own camera. I’d borrow, I’d steal, I’d get banned from several Best Buys because I’d buy a camera on Friday and return it on Monday.

Then, opportunity knocked. Prof. Chris Snider recommended I apply for the Lorentzen Hatchery––a student startup incubator at Drake that gives students a stipend to live and work in Des Moines over the summer.

I applied, pitched and subsequently got into the Hatchery. And the very first thing I did with the money––the VERY first thing––was buy a camera. A good camera was something that I’d always wanted, but never had the money to buy.

After I got my own camera, the game changed. I could take it any and everywhere I wanted and the only person I had to answer to was myself. That’s what allowed me to start my business. That camera.

Since acquiring the camera, I worked my ass off trying to permeate the industry. Going into the summer I had two maybe three friends in the local hip-hop scene. I needed to make a name for myself.

Basically every night (week or weekend) I could find a concert, I would go. I’d get there early, plant myself at the barricade and take thousands of photos. Then, when everyone else at the shows would go to the clubs/afterparties, I’d drive straight home and edit all night long.

After a couple years working as a reporter for a newspaper, I learned a couple things. I knew I wasn’t the best photographer, so I was an early adopter of the mantra “I might not always be the best, but I’ll always be first.” I’d edit photos till 4 or 5 in the morning, and schedule them to post to social media at 8 the next morning.

These photos would be the first ones people saw, and the first ones artists/fans would share, thus boosting my brand and name recognition. I kept this up all summer until I’d built up my own community of social media people who liked my work.

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