2017 was a year for good music, and one of the gems of the year was SYRE by Jaden Smith. The album is Jaden’s first solo album, after having spent most of his life in the spotlight. For New York native, Michaela Lawson, watching him grow as an artist has been rewarding as a fan. On the other hand, as a photography student at the Manhattan Fashion Institute of Technology she was inspired to produce an accompanying project.
Creating A Beautiful Confusion the photo series
“The way [Jaden] made this album seemed very relateable, which is why I wanted to do SYRE as a photo series,” she explains. A Beautiful Confusion covers the first four tracks (spelling “BLUE”), “Ninety”, and “Lost Boy.” She interpreted the songs as the character, “Syre”, reflecting on events in his life.
Moreover, the series is also an ode to The Renaissance. In track “B”, Jaden uses iambic pentameter, a Shakespearean writing style. Jaden draws inspiration from William Shakespeare, so Michaela thought it fitting to acknowledge this in A Beautiful Confusion. Her two locations, Coney Island, Brooklyn and Tyron Park in Manhattan, visually reminded her of Medieval times. In addition, the styling of her models aided Lawson in capturing the essence of the Renaissance in modern time.
“I wanted to [follow] the theme of these young lovers, as if it was a Romeo and Juliette type of story.” Throughout the album there were overtones of happiness and hurt in romantic relationships. With the photo series she hoped to visually share the happiness and pain, that accompanies the two lovers Jaden croons about.
Women in photography
In photography, we usually see women in front of the lens. “Why I chose my [female] model is because I wanted to look for someone like me. Somewhere I can see myself as represented, number one as a black female. I wanted to show that we can be used [in photography].”
While there is no problem in appreciating the richness that women bring to imagery, it is important for them to exist in all aspects of visual production. At the same time, Michaela is hopeful for the growing place for women in visual content production. To the New York photographer, “It’s always best to hear both sides.”
To view the full series, click here.