“Hey, lady, are you press?” barked the stylish sister moving like a hot bullet, trying to catch me as I attempted a hasty exit at a Gracie Mansion event.
A quick glance down confirmed that I had forgotten to remove my blue name sticker announcing me as just that-press. We connected at the streetlight; I was cornered and intrigued. That’s how I remember my first meeting with photographer Rowena Husbands.
At the time, I did not know I was chatting with one of the most talked about and requested African-American female photographers in the business. The first thing you notice about Husbands is that she’s as interesting to look at and chat with as the iconic people who request her unique style and natural eye behind the lens.
If her work were not “everywhere,” she could claim an underground status. As it stands, she’s photographed most of the who’s who in the “colorful” entertainment sphere and is quickly adding the next generation with every click-click-click of her shutter. In flashy picture books, her work adorns the pages of “Music: Dolce & Gabbana” and “Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label.”
Husbands’ celebrity series has also been in Newsday, the New York Beacon, Vibe, the Source, Ebony, Jet, BRE, Billboard, Right On, Sister 2 Sister, Rolling Stone, Hitz and Essence.
She is also the official photographer for VH1’s hit reality show “Love & Hip Hop”; the New York Women in Film & Television annual Muse Awards, which pays homage to greats like Barbara Walters, Vanessa Williams and Katie Couric; African American Women in Cinema; and the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment. (NABFEME).
In 2007, NABFEME recognized her at the Black History Month “Dream Girls Series.” In 2012, she was the recipient of the Young Gifted and Black Nina Simone Award in photography.
Active inside inner circles, Husbands is a member of the national board of directors for the Women of Height Organization and the founder of blinkofaneyephotographyonline.com, one of the entertainment industry’s most popular photo archive websites.
All that started in Harlem. To be precise, it started in the Wagner Projects, located on 121st Street and First Avenue. It also started with a borrowed camera used just to take photos of her then-2-year-old daughter.
“A dear friend, choreographer Robin Dunn, told me I had a great eye for photography and suggested that I charge people for my time.” Tossing her head back, Husbands continued down memory lane. “Honey, I never looked back. She introduced me to Mona Scott-Young. This lovely soul gave me the opportunity to shoot the girl group Allure. That relationship lead me to shooting Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott, and the rest is herstory.”
Herstory, it’s a keeper. Here is what inspires me. She borrowed a camera and made herstory. She did not own one and, more importantly, Husbands did not lean on excuses.
Did I mention that this legacy began with a borrowed camera?
To learn more and to find a unique gift and maybe an art investment, visit blinkofaneyephotographyonline.com.