Viewfinders and Vinyl: An Interview with Photographer Sen Floyd
Ilk Yasha: Tell me about yourself and what you do?
Senetchut Men Ab Nehti: I am a director and photographer working predominantly in commercial music and documentaries. For my still work, I focus mostly on portraiture. I get assignments on a long-scale, ranging from music, commercial, documentary, beauty, and fashion—every once in a while, I’ll take a wedding. I am at a point in my career where I am thinking about how my work will live on and the stories we tell through images.
IY: What do you remember from your time in Expanding the Walls?
SMAN: Expanding the Walls was the beginning of everything for me. I was fifteen years old in a class of seventeen-to nineteen-year-olds, so I had to mature pretty fast. I honestly was never interested in photography. I applied because I was troublesome in school and needed an outlet quickly. To my surprise, I was accepted! Everything changed for me when I was in the program—my thinking, how I viewed the world, and others. My pinhole view of Flatbush and Bed-Stuy became broad really quickly. I wanted to explore and learn through art. It was the start of my lifelong passion. I would have never thought of myself as an artist or thinker until Expanding the Walls.
IY: How has music affected your work?
SMAN: I began collecting vinyls in the eighth grade. I didn’t even know what they were, but I just liked the cover art. Little did I know that it would come to influence my work later on.
IY: What music were you listening to as an Expanding the Walls participant?
SMAN: When I first started, I was on Soulja Boy. When I got into Expanding the Walls, I honestly began to explore all genres, and to this day I still listen to Bach, Chopin, Common, Most Def, Black Thought, Dilla, Pete Rock, Styles P, Jay Z, Al Green, soul—music with a message.
IY: Who are you listening to at the moment?
SMAN: All of the above. My playlist has expanded. I like some of the new music, but I can’t get down with it completely. I get headaches if I listen to trap too long—seriously.
I am at a point in my career where I am thinking about how my work will live on and the stories we tell through images.
IY: Who are some artists who you've worked with that you want people to know about?
SMAN: I have had the opportunity to tour with DRAM, Vince Staples, Loaf Muzik—work with Marlon Craft, Pete Rock, Skyzoo, Smif-N-Wessun, Sean Price (RIP), Nas, Radamiz, Joey Bada$$, Chelsea Reject, Bad Boy, Tyrese Gibson, Nicole Beharie, Deyon Taylor, Chris Matic, French Montana, A$AP Mob, Harry Fraud, V Don, Griselda—the list is very very long, but I am grateful.
IY: If you could shoot for anyone, who would it be?
SMAN: Kendrick, Jay Z, and Jeff Bezos.
IY: So you've gotten into working with teens and youth yourself. Tell me about the work you're doing in Bushwick.
SMAN: Right now, I am a part-time Teaching Artist at a youth-driven program called Educated Little Monsters. I teach film and photography to a cohort of students from ages nine to twenty-three. We work throughout the school year to produce a short film and gallery show, and at the end of the year, they have a screening. It's great!
IY: What advice would you give younger folks interested in getting into your line of work?
SMAN: Don't let anyone tell you what you can achieve, I have achieved a lot in so little time, and I am only 24—without a degree, just to throw that out there—even though I'm in school right now, needless to say. I am not even in my prime, and I don't plan on quitting any time soon. Write your goals in a Black book, anything you can imagine, and go and get it. Never quit when shit hits the fan, because it'll only make you stronger. That's my word.