Owensboro Photographer’s Work Featured on Impressive New York City Billboard
Imagine scrolling through social media, stumbling across a photo of a billboard in New York City and realizing that the photo on it is one that you took. That's exactly what happened recently to Owensboro's Colt Walker. The story of how it happened is incredibly interesting and proof that you just never know who you'll meet, when, where and what can (and will) happen in the future from that encounter.
I have known Colt since he was a kid. His mom and I played softball together for years. Admittedly, it's crazy to think he's all grown up now and old enough to pack his bags and move off to New York City. However, that's precisely what he did a couple of years ago to pursue a modeling career. That went well, quickly, by the way.
He worked for a modeling agency that often set him up bartending at high-end store fronts like Gucci and Burberry. In addition to special appearances at retail stores, there were gigs at weddings, baseball games and other special events. Colt always worked alongside other models at those jobs and that's where he met Dakota Griffin. Dakota's from Ohio and, through that Midwest connection, he and Colt realized they had much in common. As Colt explains now, Dakota's "like a brother" to him.
A couple of months later, Colt had moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in a neighborhood called Washington Heights. It's north of Harlem and will sound very familiar to you if you saw the musical or film version of In the Heights. Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical is based on that particular neighborhood.
It's one of my favorite neighborhoods in Manhattan too. In fact, if you ever go to New York City, travel uptown on the 1 Train and get off at 191st Street. The subway tunnels there are literally worth the ride up. That neighborhood is magical.
And this part of Colt's story certainly has a sense of magic about it too. He continued to land modeling jobs and continuing to work on his own photography. Sure, Colt is perfectly comfortable in front of the camera, but he's exceptionally skilled behind it too. One day, Dakota randomly called him and asked if he had heard of a rap artist named SoFaygo. Colt admits he knew the name, but didn't know much else about him. Dakota asked if he wanted to do a photo shoot with him. Colt, obviously, said, "Yes!"
If you've ever traveled to New York City or tried to live there, you know one thing. It's EXPENSIVE! Colt says he didn't have much money, but Dakota offered to use his own money to secure a studio for the shoot. Heck, that's what friends, brothers, are for. SoFaygo and his crew came to the studio and they went to work. In Colt's words, "Faygo gave me hella energy and we were able to connect with each other's spirits to really get what we needed out of it."
After the shoot, Colt went back to his apartment at 179th and Wadsworth and started editing the images from his shoot. He admits, "Something inside of me just told me to go extra hard on these photos, so I did." In fact, he reached out to a friend of his who specializes in color theory, gave her a preview of SoFaygo's music and asked her for her input. With her guidance, Colt really honed in on "emotional" colors that complimented SoFaygo's music.
After a few edits, SoFaygo's manager and Colt reached an agreement. The team could use the photos as long as Colt received full photo credit in every publication in which they were used.
And, this is pretty awesome, one of Colt's photos was used to create the cover of SoFaygo's album After Me.
At the time Colt and SoFaygo worked together on the shoot, SoFaygo had a lot of fans and supporters. But, since then, his career has absoutely exploded. In fact, he was recently named one of Spotify's Top 10 Hip Hop Artists to Watch in 2022.
SoFaygo's career got a massive boost when he started being noticed by top executives in the music industry. Travis Scott, for instance, liked the album cover photo on social media. Then, he and the Kardashians started playing and promoting SoFaygo's music. They started using his music on their Instagram stories and, well, you can imagine the power of those endorsements. Spotify, Apple Music and all the other major streaming services started promoting the album. Colt's cover was even published in Rolling Stone.
Eventually, Spotify reached out to Colt, told him they loved his work and asked if they could use some of his images for their media push. Naturally, he jumped at the opportunity and said, "YES!" Since that time, the popular streaming platform has used about ten different photos from his initial shoot with SoFaygo.
When SoFaygo announced the release of a new album called Pink Heartz, Spotify again reached out to Colt to get his permission to use additional photos. Like before, he simply asked for photo credit.
Just a couple of days ago, Colt saw the rewards for his creativity. He was working out and Siri announced, through his headphones, that he had a message from Rap Caviar. They had just tagged him in a social media post. That post was celebrating the announcement that SoFaygo had been named one of the Top 10 Hip Hop Artists to Watch in 2022. That announcement, by the way, was blasted across a billboard near Madison Square Garden in New York City and it featured another photo Colt took of him during that initial shoot.
Here's Colt's original photo.
Here's that image on the NYC billboard.
You know what they say about New York City. If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere.
There's no doubt that Colt is on his way to making it.
And, by the way, the Subway station directly underneath that billboard is home to the 1 train. The same train that travels all the way up to Washington Heights, where Colt got the call that put him on the map as a professional photographer. Like I said, you just never know who you'll meet, when, where and how your life can change because of them.
Here's our full interview with Colt: