behind the lens, Antoine Smart.


Antoine Smart, also known MRR. 360 started a series called Beard Chronicles where he travels along the East Coast asking men about their beards. This idea was so unique and something so bold, I had to ask more! Having the ability to witness men of color coming together to share their story is so inspiring not only to me, but to other men who are seeking to grow their beard. Well, Mrr. 360 was completely on board when asked to go BEHIND THE LENS. Read more to catch up!

Crystal: When did you begin your photography career?

Antoine: “2015 is when I began to focus on photography seriously. As of June 2017 I have been a full time photographer.”

C: What is your greatest accomplishment thus far?

A: “I was blessed with the opportunity to have my work in a magazine. It was surreal seeing my work in print. Also, how proud my family was of me made it an even bigger accomplishment.”

 C: Who/What inspires you?

A: “So hard to narrow it down. I am really inspired by the work of Gordon Parks all of his work tells a story. I also get inspired by @stevesweatpants @black_soap @skinnywashere @iamchristopherpowell @johmarccam & @melontao.”

 C: Which failure turned into a blessing in disguise?

 A: “June of last year I lost my job. This pushed me into being a full time photographer. I have grown in my faith and have been blessed with some great opportunities. I feel like if I didn’t lose my job I would still be there, miserable.” 

C: What is your favorite lens/camera to shoot with?

A: “My old faithful Canon T3 Rebel with a 50mm lens. I know I will upgrade one day but still plan to keep the T3”


C: How do you educate yourself on taking better pictures?

 A: “Looking at my old work and seeing how I can improve. Also, youtube tutorials have been an awesome guide”

C: Among your works, which is your favorite?

 A: “Hard to choose but seeing my beard chronicles grow from just an idea to seeing it in print is definitely a highlight”



C: What is one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?

 A: “It’s okay to not know everything about photography. There is always something to learn.”

C: Among the gadgets you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought? Why?

 A: “So far no”

C: What do you have to say to those who are chasing a photography career?

 A: “Stay true to your photography, you don’t have to shoot what is “popular”. Don’t let the amount of likes discourage you. Be patient things don’t happen over night. Also, it’s okay to ask questions if one person doesn’t answer you just ask somebody else.”

Following MRR. 360 has been an amazing experience from seeing his eye catching skylines of New York to watching his Beard Chronicles grow is truly inspiring! Follow his Instagram and view his website! I'm sure you'll get some inspo.  

behind the lens, CrysB.

Pictures are great, but the story behind the photos are so much better! Let me tell you about the time I had an impromptu photoshoot with a professional photographer.



It was Friday and it was pay day. The sun was out and the waves of positive energy were vibrating on higher frequency than usual. On September 29th, my sister, ShaMyra, and I planned use Union Market- a gourmet food hall in Northeast Washington, D.C. as our space for a photoshoot. 


Before starting our photoshoot, we eat. [If you plan to spend a day with me, we are going to eat first, ALWAYS!] ShaMyra and I are at Union Market, in line, waiting for our empanadas. This guy walks through the crowd in a crisp white oxford, black slim fit jeans paired with a Supreme dad hat. The guy's outfit was clean and very stylish. In my head I say "Nice outfit!" but in real life, I didn't say a thing- haha. ShaMyra being the social butterfly she is, says to him "Hey! I follow you on IG!" His response was, "Oh really? I have to follow you back!" From their conversation and from taking a peek at his Instagram, I came to learn that this stylish guy is a professional photographer working with clients such as GQ, Nike and Lyft. Not to mention, we have a mutual friend. Coincidence? NAW. 

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As the conversation comes to an end, ShaMyra begins to explain that we are in the area to shoot for her blog and asked if he'd like to join us. He agrees! He goes on to tell us that he is on his lunch break and he works right across the street. Before the end of the hour, ShaMyra and I are at his office's outdoor lounge area having a full and lively photoshoot. I tell you, when creatives get together, anything is possible! For the first time ever, I was a model and a photographer within the same space. I wasn't expecting to be the subject nor was I expecting to make a connection with a professional photographer. He was gracious enough to share wisdom with me about which ISO and Aperture to use when in particular settings and shed light on what it REALLY takes to be a professional photographer. This day birthed a new creation.

This is the introduction to something new, something fresh and something revolutionary. 

Welcome to BEHIND THE LENS, with Crystal Brooks.



Photography of me: Gary Williams