As Taj Stansberry‘s biography proclaims, an artistic genius is virtually indefinable. Privileged with the esteem gift of turning a calculated visual into an interpersonal connection bridging opposing worlds, the East Oakland native has emerged as one of the music industry’s most sought-after video directors in recent memory. Without a formal education in photography, the aspiring filmmaker had an innate eye for framing and composition that was only heightened through the teachings of his mentor, acclaimed music video director Anthony Mandler. Along the road Stansberry hit a few dry spells, but understanding the importance of exposure he eventually landed on the roster at Boxfresh Pictures – a film agency looking to help distraught, yet promising careers. Never looking back, Stansberry has worked with everyone from Jill Scott to Young Jeezy and LG to Nike. Forever humbled by a difficult upbringing in an area that saw the emergence of both the Black Panther and hippie movements, his work consistently exemplifies the beautiful contradictions of the Bay Area and its foundations in poverty, violence, liberalism and artistic ingenuity. In our latest Essentials installment, the West Coasting visionary offers a look at some of the tools of his trade, his daily keepings, and favorite possessions. Camera in tote on road to an enriched life, Stansberry lacks the words however to accurately define what an artistic genius truly embodies, choosing rather to let his films do the talking.
Photography: Brandon Shigeta/HYPEBEAST