New Orleans born, self-described The Photovangelist, Saddi Khali is a social media sensation. His ever-growing Facebook following has surpassed ten thousand, with another thirteen plus thousand Instagram followers. He differs however from other social media stars in that he offers far more substance than many overnight internet personalities, most famous for unfathomable reasons. Khali has a purpose, he is on a mission to uncover beauty that societal norms have long buried in our collective sub-consciousness. Armed only with his camera and his vision he has been changing perceptions globally, travelling as far as South Africa to work his magic.
Out of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Saddi Khali was forced to relocate from his beloved Crescent City to New York, specifically Brooklyn where he began taking pictures with an old camera. The struggling artist had little money and no additional photographic equipment to speak of, including any lighting. This sparseness helped him develop his signature style, which has captivated fans and attracted new clients.
Today, Saddi Khali has no studio, no staff, and according to him, no home. He is constantly on the road, travelling city to city fueled by the demand of an adoring public. He is literally summoned to his destinations. There are currently up to thirty “BRING Saddi Khali to” Facebook groups active today. Group members raise and provide the funding necessary for him to make his journeys and in some cases have even provided a couch for him to lay his head. His success can truly be consider grassroots driven.
Khali’s photos, primarily black and white, are meant to give its subjects a stronger sense of self, while redefining one’s distorted view of what it means to possess beauty. Using only natural light, with no pre or post production, no hair and makeup teams, the images that he provides come straight from the camera, ready to be viewed. The collaborative line between photographer and subject are undisturbed thus creating images that feel respectful and honest. The vast majority of photos are nudes, but are always tastefully done to the client’s level of comfort. In contrast to the air brushed images that prevail throughout commercial media, nothing is hidden. Saddi’s photographs celebrate and embrace every wrinkle, every stretchmark, every blemish and all body types. These attributes are highlighted to illustrate Saddi’s unique vision, which when captured, provides his clients with an unforgettable experience along with a beautiful classic spread of photos. According to Saddi Khali, “If you’re made in the image of God you must be beautiful.” His legion of fans (myself included) are in agreement.
In addition to his photographic achievements, Saddi Khali is also a gifted writer and poet, having once appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. His public photos are often accompanied with beautifully poetic captions of unabashed love and support of his subjects. As stunning as his photos are, this is probably the true source of his emergent success, the way he eloquently empowers us to battle the traditional Western standards of beauty and as he states “Let’s see ourselves beautiful again.”
Khali’s vision is fueled by his passionate belief in the inherent truth that beauty can only be defined by one’s self and not by media driven expectations. His words, photos, and actions are all a result of that vision. Those who come in contact with him can’t help but agree. Look this brother up on the web, the Photovangelist may be bringing his message of Beauty to a city near you. For more information about Saddi, visit him at saddikhaliphoto.com
Interview by Dr. David Asbery
Written by Tracy Bowen
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