Shaquille Dunbar Shares Photography And The Spirit Of Optimism

Shaquille Dunbar is the optimistic dreamer and photographer, capturing candid street moments and soul grabbing portraits. 

Q: Hi Shaquille. Can tell me a little bit about yourself? 

A: My name is Shaquille Dunbar but sometimes I like to be called T.O.D aka The Optimist Dreamer. I think life is limitless and anything is possible. Though, this notion of anything is possible did not come overnight. I have a story just like everyone else and I try to capture that every time I take a photo. I come from New York where there are things always happening on the streets and that’s how I fell in love with street photography. Every moment is candid and every day I have a chance to capture a story.

Q: What is your weapon of choice?

A: Currently, I shoot with a Sony A6000 using a 50mm Prime Lens.

Q: What are the inspirations that motivate you to shoot? 

A: When it comes to street photography, I find inspiration from everything around me. This is one of the reasons I moved to New Orleans. It has a rich history and vibrant streets. I want to show people something other than the French Quarter. I also find inspiration in my peers. I follow a lot of photographers on Instagram and Tumblr who are amazing at what they do. I seek to be just as great as they are or even better.

Q: Are you a self-taught photographer or were you formally educated? 

A: I’m a self-taught photographer.

Q: As a self-taught photographer, how do you learn and continuously improve your craft? 

A: I have been taking photos for about 3 years and every day I continue to grow. Everything I have learned thus far came from trial and error, and researching through YouTube. I feel like the only way to improve is to continuously work on your craft. I constantly look at my photos to see how I could have improved my shot so the next time it comes out perfect.

 Q: What is the message or the feeling you want to convey through your photographs?

A: I want to tell a story. If someone looks at my street photos, I want them to be captivated by the moment or feel some sort of emotion when looking at the photo.

Q: How do you feel before a shoot and what are you usually thinking?

Every shoot is always a new experience so I am always nervous to work with a new person. I want everything to come out perfect and I always want my clients to enjoy their experience with me. During the shoots, I try to take my time and look for finite details. When it comes to women, I always ask them if they have a side they prefer and I always make sure their hair is fabulous.

Q: Can you share your favorite image at the moment and tell me why it’s a favorite?

A: These three images are my absolute favorites. This was a protest by tens of thousands of people from New York due to the killing of unarmed black people by police officers as a part of the “Millions March NYC.” In these three images you can see the magnitude at which this was important to the people.

Here are additional T.O.D. Photography images with details shared by Shaquille:

The next two images are of two children I saw in Jamaica playing on the street. This images reminds me of how pure and innocent children are. They remind the world of what true  love is about.

The following two images have to do with my perception of New York. Everything In New York is so fast paced, so I tried to capture images where one person is motionless or in-focus while everyone else is moving extremely fast​.

These two photos show how random and amazing the world is. Every day their is something new in the world that is waiting to be captured​.

Everything about this photo is hilarious to me. We have 3 women that are dressed for a wedding (but wearing sneakers), and the two drivers staring at them. ​

The last three are of candid moments of children Ice Skating at Bryant Park. All three images captures different expressions: sadness, bliss and hurt​:

*Many thanks to Shaquille Dunbar.


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