OG Photographer Jonathan Mannion Dropped Gems At His ‘Think Possible’ Workshop


New York is taking children’s education seriously. Enter the #DontStealPossible movement that aims to bring awareness to the failing schools in New York.

The statistics are startling: one out of four NYC schools are failing 90% of their students. With a various workshops, events, and rallies, parents and schools are getting hands-on about their children’s education.

“We just want people to care [about education],” said Jeremiah Kittredge, chief executive officer of the FES.

One of FES’s latest campaigns, #DontStealPossible, hosted their first “Think Possible” workshop on Saturday, Feb. 7. The photography session with esteemed photographer Jonathan Mannion kicks off a series of workshops led by diverse group of leaders and influencers who want to bring light to the power of great education.

Mannion showed young “shooters,” or aspiring photographers, how to complete a photo essay from start to finish. The down-to-earth photog laid out his personal tricks of the trade. Check out his pro-tips below.—Cook T.P.

1. Be disciplined
“Discipline as a general application has been one of the most important things I have now today. While everyone else is out and partying, I might be printing or preparing for a shoot or writing a video treatment.”

2. Be very present in the moment
“Stay focused. Don’t be distracted. I know there’s media, images flying at you all the time, but you have to stay present and interpret the moment of how it applies to you.”

3. Don’t follow rules.
“You can do whatever you want to do. Period.”

4. Stay woke.
“Look to others for inspiration; think through the problem entirely. Walk into a situation with a best-case scenario, write it all down, storyboard it, spend time with it. Inevitably, it will not all go right. Be prepared for anything.”

5. Pay attention to details.
“I took this photograph when Beanie Siegel said something funny. Everyone started cracking up, laughing. Roc-a-Fella Records splits two weeks later. Catch rare moments. I applied myself to document culture and hip-hop.”

6. Direct the subject.
“I had ODB dressed up as Rick James. I had him in a dress, high heels, dressed as Donna Summers. These are details that are priceless.”

7. Keep people in your network who see your vision.
“There are these working relationships and consistent relationships that are fostered by giving whole-heartedly a purer vision and really delivering.”

8. Tell the richest story.
“I have Lil’ Wayne, as “little” Wayne. He was 15 and when I turned the camera on him, he would just giggle. That’s how young he was. This was all still new and fresh to him. And now, we’ve done 7 or 8 shoots. You’re defining someone’s professional existence. You’re seeing that growth. You’re able to apply that next wave, like, ‘Okay, you did that. Now how is this different from that?’ And that’s how you tell the richest stories about the most compelling characters with the finest details.”

9. Make it authentic as possible.
“I had to push [for the shoot with DMX]. I was only given the title Flesh of my Flesh, Blood of my Blood. I wanted people to look at the image for longer and not be able to look away. I had to fight for it a little bit. He’s like, ‘Nah, I don’t want to ruin my pants.’ And I said ‘You can wear my pants’. I dropped them down and he’s like ‘Manny, put your pants back on.’ I was willing to go there.”

10. Be versatile in your skill set.
“Knowledge of skill set is absolutely crucial. I did some work with Reebok. You can shoot anything you want. I can shoot artists; I can also shoot fashion. I was on America’s Next Top Model about five times, like that’s exciting. That’s something new. I’m shooting 14 girls, what does that look like?”

11. Be okay with failing
“It refines you.”