Chopping It Up
Chopping It Up With Photographer Tasha Bleu
It’s likely that you’ve seen plenty of Tasha Bleu’s work featured in glossy magazines, plastered across billboards or even on your favorite celebrity’s perfectly curated IG profile (Pharrell Williams, Pusha T, Swizz Beats, and ASAP Rocky, just to name a few) and just didn’t know it.
Tasha, a Rhode Island native who founded Treu Bleu Media in 2010, has steadily been building her profile as the go-to photographer for brands such as Adidas, Beats by Dre, Nike, Reebok and Puma, and she’s also become a tastemaker and trendsetter in her own right, boldly rocking unique fashions and hairstyles behind and in front of the camera.
We had the opportunity to chat with Tasha and find out about her passion for photography, her sage advice for budding entrepreneurs and the secret to creating a signature style. Enjoy!
How did you fall in love with photography?
I’ve always been in love with fashion. When I was a kid growing up in Rhode Island, I spent a lot of time sketching out costumes and fashion designs. I have always been into props and scenery. I studied Marketing at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, NC but I never planned on being a photographer creating marketing imagery for the likes of Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Beats By Dre.
In January 2010, I had an idea to start my own photography company named Treu Bleu Media, formerly Treu Bleu Imagery. I was traveling back and forth between New York and Rhode Island to make sure I never missed a chance to grow my brand. I didn’t have any classical training in photography at that time but I knew how to market myself to corporations.
I was doing a lot of everything so I would know what I really wanted to specialize in longterm. In 2011, I made an executive decision to play to my strengths and I became a men’s fashion photographer. I never saw female photographers at the men’s fashion tradeshows I was attending so I knew that there was an opportunity to create my own lane.
What was your first “big break?” What was it like, and what did you learn from the experience?
My first “big break” was my first lookbook that I ever photographed for Reebok Classics in collaboration with Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. It was the first time I had to do a large model casting in New York and I learned more about working with large groups. It was also the first retail display I photographed, so I learned a lot about resolution and printing at an early stage.
Your photos are incredibly colorful, stylish and bold. How did you develop your “eye” as photographer and artist?
Thank you — My agency’s name is Treu Bleu Media and that name comes from the idea of me “Bleu” creating “Media” that is “Treu” to my imagination. No matter who I am dealing with, I always aim to have the utmost creative freedom while shooting from the eyes of the brand I am shooting for.
I am a big fan of using complementary colors and bringing a new take to street style. I like when people can point out my work anywhere without a watermark on my imagery. I enjoy being able to zoom into my photos and seeing every detail. I make my photos very sharp and I use the best equipment to do so. I learned framing through trial and error. I developed my “eye” by shooting in different elements. I have done photoshoots underwater, in sandstorms, in sleet, in rain, in snow and in all types of photography studios.
I noticed your bold and colorful style goes beyond photography — I can definitely see it in your personal style too! How did you develop your signature look?
Thank you! I’ve always had shaved sides, but I used to wear men’s clothing all the time so I can be comfortable while taking photos. Now I am changing my signature look with my waist length braids and big faux furs. I’ve invested in so many furs that I can’t really wear in Los Angeles (lol).
But I’m finally being comfortable with showing my femininity more and that is important when you are a female entrepreneur. You don’t want to show too much skin but it’s important to remind people that you are a woman and you are in control of your image.
Since you work for a lot of apparel brands, I know you get a first peek at “what’s next.” But, what are some tried-and-true fashion items that you’ll never let go of?
Working at tradeshows, I always see what products are being released in the next seasons or even years. Some tried-and-true fashions I love are Vans because they are easy to pack, Herschel Fanny Packs because I can carry my lenses on my waist and a good colorful faux fur because they will always stand out in any room.
Now, let’s get to these killer golden-yellow braids and the shaved side you have! How long have you been rocking this style, and what inspired you to try it?
I’ve been rocking this style for almost a month now. I’ve always had shaved sides but I been wearing waist-length braids for two years and I finally decided to go blonde. I’ve always wanted to try it but I had bad experiences with blonde before. I told myself that I would only change my hair color to blonde if I start traveling lighter.
If I start traveling with less anger toward people from my past, fewer worries on my mind and less fear of what may happen outside of my control. I have been meditating more and it’s very important not to be stressed out when you dye your hair, it’s truly a hair journey and a soul journey. Stress can cause so much breakage so it’s key to enjoying life more and taking care of yourself more to maintain your hair. Maintaining this look is the hard part.
I looked back at some of your past interviews and saw you’ve been #teamcutlife for awhile. When did you do your first “big chop” and what was it like?
Yesssss I been #teamcutlife since I was 17 years old. I had my “big chop” by mistake and I decided to stick with it. I always felt that it complimented my face better. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I haven’t had a full head of hair in a decade!
What are some of your favorite hair and beauty products that you always keep on deck?
I always keep ORS Oil Sheen on deck for my hair and skin. It’s also great to spray on models at photo shoots. I always keep MAC Lipglass on me and even though it’s discontinued, I still go online to get it. I’m also a huge Aveeno fan, I’ve used Aveeno products since I was 17 as well and I’ve never had a pimple!
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring photographer that’s just getting started?
- Work hard for every opportunity and don’t look for handouts. Do good work and put out good energy.
- Learn new skills. Sign up for classes on Skillshare like my course from 2013 on Creating Fashion Lookbooks !
- Don’t compare yourself to other photographers. Know what you’re good at and play to your strengths. Evolve at your own pace and don’t let the internet rush you.
All photos are courtesy of Tasha Bleu, unless otherwise noted.