The COLLECTIV | George C. Mitchell, Jr.

The guy who takes a chance, who walks the line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed.

Gordon Parks

I’ve literally known this man my ENTIRE life. When you have that type of history, introductions can ride a fine line between too little and way too much. LOL! This conversation has been a long time coming. We’ve witnessed firsthand and partnered in the unveiling of one another’s entrepreneurial journeys. It is an honor to share his story with all of you as the FIRST 2018 Honoree of The COLLECTIV.

Ladies and Gents — George Mitchell:

When you first started your photography business, what was your initial vision? How close or faraway are you from the initial vision in your business today?

I did my apprenticeship with wedding photographer, Rogers WM Foster, but it was never my intention to become a wedding photographer. However, it began an important learning experience for me. 

The vision today as a Food, Beverage, and Editorial Portrait Photographer is the same as it was then: to increase an understanding of the importance of having images taken to create and document moments — not saved on Facebook or on a hard drive somewhere, but rather hung on walls and preserved in albums The impact is greater when it is touchable.

Some aspects of my business have changed, but the vision I previously mentioned remains the same. I’m now settling into my specialties. I have taken the time to shoot in almost every photographic arena available and taken the lessons learned from one arena and implemented them in the next. This is the learning track a photographer should want to take. Why? It’s strengthened me as a photographer, it’s helped me better understand lighting, composition, and helped me learn to push the thresholds of my equipment in general. It’s also helped me think a lot quicker on my feet when placed in situations where outcomes may call for more with less. I’ve created an individual style while staying current with industry standards and trends yet, upholding the vision.

By day, you work a demanding, corporate job. How do you find the time to shoot and grow your business? Where have you found balance?

Staying up late nights and fighting sleep like a toddler! LOL! The day job truly wears on you and definitely interferes with business growth. But for now, it pays the personal bills. A decision will eventually have to be made. You can’t serve two masters (meaning you can only divide your time for so long before something begins to suffer). I truly enjoy being a Project Manager and a photographer for my day job, but it gets tough. I mean, this interview was submitted late as hell due to the demands of the day job. But you seek level ground and make it work.

It’s not good when it gets away from you, and you have to have a game plan so it doesn’t. I’ve found balance in taking on those jobs that I know work best for my availability and future growth. It ensures that I’m working with clients who can effectively communicate their photographic needs, are amenable to the steps and budget it will take to meet their  vision, and ultimately knowing exactly what they want as a completed project.

Detroit is a city in a re-emergence period, where do you see George Clarence staking its place in the city’s rebirth?

I firmly believe the players in the “re-emergence” of Detroit were included in the initial planning of new business. But I do feel there are opportunities still available to those of us looking to have a small piece of it, and I have begun inserting my business in those opportunities. However, my dreams and plans are much bigger than Detroit. Photography is a global community and I more especially want a stake in that.

In the photography community, what have you found to be the greatest challenge in building a profitable business?

Shifting the mindset about what photography truly is and is not. The profession is being diminished by those who haven’t educated themselves on the fundamental steps of photography. I work to help young photographers understand the business and marketplace. Instilling in them the constant need to utilize the foundation of what we do and to always springboard from it. Teaching them that their worth and their time is far more valuable than a couple of bucks and erroneous “exposure”. When not followed, it jump starts a down driver of wages for all photographers looking to make a living from their passion and diminishes the creative competition in the marketplace and respect for the profession over all.

[M]y dreams and plans are much bigger than Detroit. Photography is a global community and I more especially want a stake in that.

-George C. Mitchell, Jr.

Lastly, what advice would you give to eager creative entrepreneurs in pursuing their passions?

ALL OF THE ABOVE! Educate yourself, value your time, value yourself and your business, continue your education as technology advances and industry demands change; and give back to the market place by contributing true creative competition.

A native of Inkster, Michigan, George Mitchell, Jr. is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Telecommunications and Film. George has organically grown his business and has worked with some the countries most notable brands and entities. In addition to running his own photography businesses, he serves as the contributing photographer to YellowFAN Studios, Sprint’s internal advertising agency. His accomplishments include serving as the Director of Photography for Cold Hard Fash, served as Conference Director and convening a group of talented photographers to design the Camera Artists Summit – the first free photographic conference, and creating PhotoWalk:MI a free Facebook resource for photographers to learn more about the photographic industry and resources for their support.

George is a firm believer that as long as you cut corners you will only achieve temporary success. Go the distance and take the road less traveled – it takes longer but the journey is worth the education, strengthening of endurance and experience gained.

Keep up with George – Editorial Portrait – Food, Beverage, and Product Photography

Instagram: @GMitchellPhoto

Twitter: @GMitchellPhoto

FaceBook: @GeorgeMitchellPhoto & @GeorgeClarence

All images of George C. Mitchell, Jr. via Kristyn Greenfield

Creative Direction | George Mitchell, Jr.

Slideshow Images provided by George Mitchell, Jr. via George Clarence Photography & G. Mitchell Photo

BRAND HUSTLE | Protecting the Vision

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

– Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO of GE

In my years of experience in working with new entrepreneurs, I’ve found that many pitfalls arise at the onset of their vision due to failure in protecting it. Below, I have shared a list of legal must-haves that will get you started in the right direction:

Trademark Protection

If I could shout from atop the highest mountain, the greatest way for entrepreneurs to protect their brand would be to protect their name or logo under trademark law. A name or logo is a source identifier that consumers associate with your brand. By obtaining trademark protection, you are securing the right to use your name through commerce. Although trademarks are not a requirement by law, it is very necessary.

Here’s why: If you fail to protect your mark under trademark law, you are exposing your brand to potential infringers. Someone may take your name and register it for their own brand. Under this scenario, you may challenge that person’s registration but this will cost you more in legal fees. I am here to help you save some coins. Trust me, if you protect your brand at the onset, you are preventing the likelihood of infringement by third parties. Not sure where to begin? Always consult an attorney.

Copyright Protection

The second way to protect your brand is by copyright protection. One of my passions is teaching creative entrepreneurs how to protect their works. I often tell clients that it is necessary to create a quarterly, if not monthly, schedule to submit their works to the copyright office. The U.S. Copyright Office does allow for multiple submissions. This means that if you pay for one application, you can submit multiple entries under that one application. As a creative your content should be protected. Some copyrightable items include, but are not limited to: business plans, curriculum, paintings, books, songs, and software.

“As a creative your content should be protected.”

-Shaunette Stokes, Esq.

Trade Secrets

Do you have a recipe for something you created or customer lists that have helped your business grow? This can be protected under contract law. If by any chance the secrets of your company is leaked, courts will first ask about the measures you took to protect your intellectual assets. If you did the bare minimum of protecting the information shared with your staff or others, then the courts would likely see that you did not take the proper measures to ensure that your intellectual property remained a secret. For instance, if you have a recipe for your favorite product, you should make sure that anyone that has access to that recipe signs a non-disclosure and non-compete agreement. This prevents them from disclosing any secrets they acquired about your company during their employment or business relationship with you.


Lastly, I have found that budding entrepreneurs often like to pitch their ideas to potential investors and potential partners. It is often that they go into these pitch meetings empty handed. Ideally, prior to agreeing to meet with a potential investor, you should have them sign a non-disclosure agreement. This prevents them from disclosing what was said during the meeting. If you wish to take it a step further, you can also add a non-compete clause. This will prevent them from listening to your idea and executing the same exact idea in the same market. Presenting these types of contracts to potential investors or potential partners may pose as a challenge because not many people take too kindly to bound by contract for something they have not financially invested in. However, it is worth using this tactic in negotiations.

Always remember, never delay in getting your vision protected, it is all about being proactive. If you want more information on how to take one of the courses available through my firm on how to protect your vision, please email

Tampa-based attorney, Shaunette Stokes has substantial experience in contract law, business transactions, intellectual property law and civil litigation. Currently, she works with a diverse group of clients, assisting them in understanding and navigating the law so that they can effectively manage their respective businesses. Attorney Stokes has also assisted individuals in Family and Civil law.

Learn more about the legal services and entrepreneurship courses offered by Stokes Law Group by following them on Instagram here or visiting the firm’s official site by clicking the logo below.

THE STANDOUT KID | Excelling in the Average World of Social Media

“Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that.”

—Anthony Volodkin, founder of HypeMachine

Lasting creative brands leave delicious aftertastes. They linger in the minds and hearts of their audience. Being average is not an option.

So, how do you create a brand that consistently stands out? When we say “stand out” we’re not talking trending or the number of followers you may have.  Don’t get us wrong trends are important, but we’re here to encourage you to create trends and not join them. That is how you become a Standout Kid of your industry. Below we share some lessons the crazy world of social media has taught us over the years.

1.  Don’t be discouraged by your following (or lack there of)

If you’ve visited our Instagram lately you will notice that we have yet to break the 1K mark. There was a moment in time when this was a true concern of ours. In fact, we obsessed about it. As a result, our brand’s purpose became lost in translation. Remember: Slow and steady always wins the race. Giving your followers exclusivity is an advantage.

2.  Select the visual representation of your brand with care

Creating consistent social media content is overwhelming. There is nothing shameful of using stock images as feed fillers. Ensure that the chosen content compliments the overall aesthetics of your feed’s timeline. Keep the layout clean and to the point.

Two of our go-to stock image databases are Pexels and Unsplash. The photographers who share their gifts through these websites are a godsend.  Be a dear and give credit where credit is due, each image has the photographer’s social information for you to share.

Image | via Pexels

3.  Know your audience

Do you use your social media app’s analytic tool? If not, IT IS A MUST! The more you know about who’s attention you have, when they are engaged, and what they’re most attracted to makes your work much easier. We’ve recently found that although our target audience includes men and women — our actual Instagram audience is primarily women. Now, we’re adjusting our content to be more attractive to men and explore other social media platforms where men are more likely to engage with us.

4.  Use a Social Media Content Calendar

Ok…this may be the most resourceful piece of information that we can give you. Hell, it took until November 2017 for us to get with the program. When creating a social media calendar be sure that it reflects exactly what you need. Consider these things when posting to two or more platforms: know the peak posting times for each platform, observe what type of content will work for each platform, and always, always create your caption or tweet ahead of time.

You’ll thank us later!

The key to enjoying social media is to create a plan that will make it work for you instead of leaving you feeling that you are working for it. None of us claim to be social media experts, but we have experienced the rewards of these tips firsthand.

Loved this post or have questions? Feel free to chat with us in the comments!

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Feature image | via Pexels

Best of 2017: Fahamu is Indeed the $#@%

One of the most genuine and authentic people that I’ve met in Atlanta is Fahamu Pecou. It was important to me to feature him in our Summer issue of CHF Magazine. Our contributing writer, Jamilia Fortune sat down with Fahamu to learn more about his journey as an artist. Of course, his story was our TOP post read in 2017! Enjoy!

Written by | Jamilia Fortune  Photography | George Clarence

Styling | Rasheed Crawford  Make-Up Artistry | Natalie Nicole Johnson


We met at Ria’s Bluebird, a small café in Atlanta, GA. He looked exactly like what I’d seen online from my research, but way more laid back and almost timid. We went inside where he was met with hugs and excitement. It turns out that I was with a celebrity and I suddenly forgot everything that I wanted to ask!

Once seated, I threw out my icebreaker.

Jamilia (J): Where are you from?

Fahamu (F): I was born in Brooklyn, raised in South Carolina, and I’ve been in Atlanta for over 20 years.

He explained that he’d lost his mom at four years old and was raised by her aunt. Aside from his grandfather, positive men were void in his upbringing. His community urged him to be everything but what he really dreamed of… “You should be playing sports!” they would say; but who were they to talk him out of his dream?

Fahamu was a natural born artist, and art was the only thing he wanted to do.
He shared a story with me about how he’d read the World Book Encyclopedia C-Ch and looked up cartoonist, Charles Schultz, the late “Charlie Brown” artist. He read that cartoonists could make $1000/week and that’s when he decided that no one would persuade him to be anything else.

In 1993, at 18, he graduated from high school, gathered his belongings, $40, and moved to Atlanta where he enrolled as a freshman at The Atlanta College of Art. He said leaving there was about college but also about survival. He is now a PhD candidate at Emory University, a prestigious university in Atlanta.

Next, I wanted to delve into his creative process.

J: What does your creative process look like?

F: It’s natural. I’m always on. I might see a car passing by and get an idea from it. I have a long list of notes/ideas on my phone so I don’t forget or in case I need a new idea or name for a piece, I can refer to the list.

J: What are you saying with your art? Who are you speaking to?

F: I’m speaking to the masses but my focus is on black masculinity. People always have an idea of what it is but I’m saying that it’s so much more. Black masculinity, our feelings, and struggles have to be humanized.

The birth of his son prompted him to focus on this reality. He knew he wanted to be the type of parent who’d tell his children that it’s okay to be exactly who they are, especially his son.

F: It’s easier for girls to express their feelings, but boys are taught to swallow theirs. It’s as if their feelings don’t matter and they’re often times not even asked about them.

“Black masculinity, our feelings, and struggles have to be humanized.”

It’s with this in mind that Fahamu partnered up with Atlanta Public Schools to form (ad)Vantage Point,a community of black, male students from Maynard Jackson High in Atlanta. They create an environment for the boys in which they are encouraged to tell their stories through art. It empowers them to feel and to share. It also shows them that they are not alone. In the future, he hopes to expand this program into a nonprofit targeting young men who have been exposed to any sort of trauma.

We had to talk about the presence of hip hop in his work. Being Brooklyn born gave him an upfront view of the genre’s unfolding. He likens it to the blues, in which it was not well received but later embraced. He’s obsessed with the storytelling aspect of it, as well as the story that the music tells. He’s hugely inspired by Andre 3000 of Outkast due to his complexity in verse and style. Some of his favorites also include, Special Ed, Big Daddy Kane, “for making chocolate men in again,” The Roots, and Goodie Mob. He also has respect for up and coming artists such as Rich Homie Quan and the Migos because they’ve created a new wave of music that’s not relying on sampling and instead uses their voices as the instrument. Hip hop is so important because it tells the realities of being a black man in this world. He agrees that perhaps there are some stories, that many rappers tell that could be rewritten a bit more positively, but respects it nonetheless.

Understanding his outlook on hip-hop and consciousness, I needed to ask who he prefers, J.Cole or Kendrick Lamar, two very conscious and at times, controversial artists.

The answer, an overwhelming Kendrick Lamar! He’d written an article, entitled, “Are You Not Entertained? Kendrick Lamar and Black Resistance” documenting how the rapper took aim at white priveledge during his 2016 Grammy Award Performance, effectively addressing misrepresentation of the black experience in this country’s history.

J: What is it in Kendrick’s art that you connect with the most?

F: I really appreciate the fact that he is a “writer” first. The art of rap has become really pedestrian, in that everybody’s doing it. Kendrick goes beyond rapping into literature. His albums are reviewed in literary journals and compared to the canon of great American authors. Beyond that, he also literally transforms into an instrument. He works his vocals, improvising and deconstructing rhythms and patterns the way Coltrane would with his sax or Miles does with his trumpet. As a visual artist, his writing and musicality are all very visual and visceral. It’s really avant garde and frankly refreshing.

From Brooklyn to small town South Carolina, and now a living legend in the art world, Fahamu Pecou is creating a voice for the voiceless and letting them know that it’s okay to emerge from the shadows and tell their story. It’s okay to be themselves, unapologetically, and empowering men to not accept the narrative about who they are, but become what they are meant to be.

For all of these reasons, I can undoubtedly declare, “Fahamu Pecou is Indeed The Shit!”

Best of 2017: Mommy a la Mode

Being a mother has been the most exciting and rewarding role of my lifetime. Since having my son, I have shared much about how his arrival has reshaped my thinking about being an entrepreneur. Our second most viewed post was the first feature that I did with my son, Kevin. It was AMAZING! Continue on to see the great looks curated by Rasheed Crawford and I for this fun shoot!


Photography | Evan Carter  Styling | Rasheed Crawford  Make Up Artistry | Natalie Nicole Johnson

A Style Story:

Based on the life of a #MomBoss

with Editor-In-Chief, Crystal Lariece feat. Kevin Elijha + Clifford L. Johnson

“You are my SonShine / My only SonShine / You make me oh so happy…”
“Relax..Relate…Rick Ross”

“There is something magical that happens when your ‘Mommy’ switch is turned on. ”

-Crystal Lariece

“Just look over your shoulder honey…”
“…I’ll be there!”
“Never knew love like this before!”

Additional Credits:

Haircut | Joseph Jackson + Hair Color | Hair by Carmen