Chuck Marcus

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“Everything is possible. No matter the road block, there’s always away.”

Words by Justice Nnanna + Photos by Mark Clennon

Chuck Marcus is a photographer, born and raised in Harlem, New York. In light of this fact, it’s no surprise that we bond immediately over the late, Harlem street photographer, Roy DeCarava. Like DeCarava, Marcus is impelled by a desire to translate black identity into visual materials. Working with brands like Foot Locker and Adidas, Chuck recognizes that he can affect real change by helping shape the way that black people are portrayed in the mainstream. He relishes the opportunity to “control the narrative of us” and “shape the story.” Marcus’s ongoing series “Millennial Love Stories”, which showcases predominately POC couples in embrace, is one example of how the young photographer is highlighting the stories he finds most important to share. Marcus moves with a positivity towards his subjects, and in his professional life, that is fitting of a creator that is just happy to be doing what they love.

For this ‘Thoughts Become Things’ series, could you share a positive thought that you often have and a negative thought that you often have?

Everything is possible. No matter the road block, there’s always away.

Negative thought is, am I good enough?

James Baldwin said, “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” What history do you carry with you most as a contemporary creator?

Identity. I’m big on history, my familial history, and I move with that knowledge.

Any POC creatives that you feel came before their time?

Roy DeCarva. An amazing street photographer that was definitely before his time. If you don’t know him, look him up.

How do you navigate working in spaces that don’t feel supportive of you or in line with your beliefs?

I tend to gravitate to the people who look like me. I come with a legit concept, a deck, a mood board, here’s the space I’m looking to do this, here’s the inspiration behind it—I come prepared because that’s what you have to do. Come 110% prepared.

True or false- “When they go low, we go high.”   

That’s true for me.   

Greatest challenge and greatest benefit of being a minority in a creative industry?

Greatest challenge is pitching to the brands who don’t support the vision. Brands who have a quota for ‘ethnic’ and it’s tough to have to compete for those few slots they’ve allotted.

Greatest benefit is that I’m able to control the narrative of us. That I have the power to shape the story.

How do you use your community to move your goals forward?

I use my community a lot. The smallest relationships are the best relationships. Check up on your people. Don’t only hit someone up when you need someone, really invest in your relationships and bring up your friends if you’re able.     

I know you’re working with Adidas now, what’s been the key to securing a big

Community. Asking for what you want. People say it’s hard to do, and they’re right, it’s the hardest thing to do, but you gotta ask. Even if the time isn’t right immediately, you’ve put it out there and you never know what can materialize once your intention is known.

I often create opportunities for myself by simply letting people know what my tangibles are.

Imani Ellis