From D.C. to Hollywood: Berkeley Wright Captures it All

On a 75 degree day, residents from the neighborhood surrounding the Anna J. Cooper Circle, find peace under its blooming trees. It is only one in the afternoon, but that does not stop two local high school boys from hopping a fence, visibly attempting to steal an abandoned car and rob the row house behind it.”I’m about to go capture that,” Berkeley Wright said.Wright, 23, is an up-and-coming photographer who lives about a block away from Anna J. Cooper Circle. On the very next corner, his grandmother is out tending to her garden. Wright sets his chicken sandwich down and takes out his Nikon D300 to adjust the settings to properly shoot either the scenery, or the robbery.”I used to write a lot and I went through something” Wright said. “I put so much energy on paper, I felt like I couldn’t share it no more,” So Wright decided photography was his best bet. “I could still express myself without putting words on paper.”Wright did not just start his love of photography right off with his $3200 Nikon; instead he began with a little practice on his camera phone.”I took a picture on my camera and it was a silhouette of my friend at the Washington Monument,” said Wright. “It’s all shadows and a blue sky and a body standing next to the monument but they look the same size.”Living in D.C.’s Ledroit Park since the age of ten, Wright was accepted into Morehouse University and moved to Atlanta. But due to financial setbacks the then sociology major was made to return home. “[Morehouse] was good for networking reasons, but I don’t know if it really was for me.”He now attends school near the D.C. waterfront at Southeastern University, majoring in accounting.Wright still has not found the right major for himself. “I’ll be switching again,” he said.Whether or not academics are his best suit, others seem to think it is Wright’s attitude that is going to help him excel throughout life.”He’s a really kind-hearted person and is knowledgeable about life,” Jasmine Whiting said.Just recently, Whiting found herself in the same circle Wright is sitting in today, just taking pictures and learning from each other.His friend, Shawn Gaines, has the same impression. “He’s a very good friend, always looks out for those he cares for and will keep it real all the time,” Gaines explained.Only on his off days, which are typically the weekend, Wright has the opportunity to go out and shoot. Today he plans on walking the neighborhood and finding inspiration, but for now, he sits taking test shots of his friend Zelena, a photographer as well, who sits in a blooming tree. He turns his camera to Gaines, who happens to be sitting on the next bench, and begins snapping away at him too.”He knows how to capture interesting moments and people,” said Gaines.His most recent photo shoot was not of any America’s Next Top Model contestant. Known only to individuals who venture around Third St. and Florida Avenue, the colorful homeless man Hollywood became Wright’s subject.”I asked him if anyone ever took his picture. It wasn’t a planned shoot, I just seen him,” said Wright. So Wright took Hollywood over to a mural that rivaled Hollywood’s beaded beard in colors and started shooting. Equippedwith packs of Now or Laters in his shirt pocket and glittery New Year’s 2009 glasses on top on his hat, Hollywood became the top model Wright was looking for.”I don’t like model photography. It’s too set up,” Wright said. “I like spur of the moment, its real life versus still life.”Spur of the moment is right. Wright leaves his bench in the park to sneak up on his grandmother while snapping away with his Nikon.”For me it’s just all about what other people get from it. It’s never been about the money. It’s all about expression.”