Photo Poets: McKinley Wiley

All photos by McKinley Wiley, courtesy of the artist.

I’m an editorial portrait photographer based in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

Since I picked up a camera nearly twenty years ago, my intention has always been to empower people to see the beauty within themselves, even if it’s only for a brief moment.

When I’m not shooting, I enjoy pretending to be a cross-fit athlete, admiring the work of Jamel Shabazz, or binge watching culinary docuseries with my wife.

These portraits were captured very early on in my photography journey, approximately between 2007–2012 during weekly open mic poetry events at B-Side lounge in Cleveland Heights. I was still very new to photography at this time and was in a constant search of compelling subjects to photograph. These artists are TRUE Cleveland street poets at least in their own right. I’ve always been drawn to the freedom of performing artists whether it’s an open-mic poet, dancer, musician, etc. Their openness and permission for me to photograph them allowed me to grow into the artist that I am today. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Photo Poets is a quarterly street photography feature curated by Aja Joi Grant.

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