TT Coles interview on

Behind the Camera with TT Coles

I take pictures…I say bad words…when I laugh, my nose flares…and I’ve been known to perform classic MC Hammer videos as a one woman show.
– TT Coles
Terra Tarice Coles — who served ten years in the US Army— had a new weapon of choice. Initially, it was the naked condo walls begging to be clothed that inspired a passion in Ms. TT Coles. Almost instantaneously, what began as a hobby with a simple point and shoot camera became a lifestyle that Coles now lives and breathes. Even in the absence of formal training, Coles’ walls are now decorated with shots that garner accolades from art lovers, experienced photographers, and people who don’t quite understand the vast difference between a Nikon D50 and a disposal camera. No diss to the technologically non-savvy. TT Coles was blessed with a creative spirit by nature.

How old were you when you first picked up the camera?
I took a photography class my senior year in high school but i didn’t officially fall in love with photography until 2 1/2 years ago when i got my first DSLR camera.

Is there anyone, in particular, that you want as a subject to photograph?
It’s hard for me to narrow down a single person that i want to photograph, in particular. I like to photograph based on a feeling. There is a revolutionary movement that has been necessarily resurrected in our generation and their are a multitude of folks right here in Atlanta that are aggressively involved. I would love to capture a day in the life of some of these soldiers puttin in work for the people. I’ve had the pleasure of photographing people like Mikeflo and Kevin “Mr. Soul” but there are still people like Taj Anwar, Stahhr, and Stic.Man (Dead Prez) that i’ve yet to capture (just to name a few, of course).

Do the elements of your surroundings influence your work?
The elements of my surroundings are a major force in what/how i shoot. Ever since i picked up a camera 2 1/2 years ago, virtually EVERYTHING i see is a potential photo op. Whether it be a particular cloud formation before or after a storm or the facial and body expressions of person that doesn’t know they’re being photographed, it all carries a certain energy/emotion…and THAT’S what i go for.

How did you get hooked up with the crew at City of Ink?
I got connected to the City of Ink through Kevin “Mr. Soul“. He saw some photos that I’d done of Mikeflo and he liked them. He asked me if i would do some shots of the COI crew and the rest is black history.
It is all my pleasure to be associated with the crew at the City of Ink. There is an energy there that can’t be paralleled and is due to the leadership of Miya and Tuki. These guys are proof positive that young black people are driven to success. What they do far exceeds what you expect from a tattoo shop. Miya and Tuki are the nucleus of an entity that is destined for generational greatness. You got folks bragging about having a COI piece tatted on them in the same fashion that someone would boast an original Van Gogh piece hanging from their walls. They continue to inspire and i’m grateful to watch it unfold.

What advice would you give to an up and coming photographer?
If i had any advice to offer an upcoming photographer, it would be to shoot everything in sight until you figure out what does it for you. Shoot as often as you can and become well versed on the ins and outs of your camera.

What do you think about many photographers using Photoshop on every picture that they shot?

If photography is truly an art form, then photoshop is a medium in which we work. For me, Photoshop is a necessary tool of the trade. I edit every photo that i present.

Could we see a “TT Coles” photography book coming soon?
A “TT Coles” photo book? Absolutely! It will be a dream realized within the next year.

Lastly, is there anything you would like to say/ shout out/ scream out to the people reading this interview?
Embrace your creativity….you have one life on this earth so do whatever it is that makes you happy, everything else will fall into place. Don’t allow yourself to be bound by bullshit societal traditions and confines, those things are put in place to hinder your success and breed mediocrity. Be the best you that there is. Peace and infinite blessings.

For more information on TT Cole check out her myspace at