MRKingJD: In Front Of The Lens
The man often behind the camera, but on the front line of the growing creative culture in Columbus, Ohio; James Drakeford, better known as JD (MrKingJD). A remarkable photographer across the nation, with a vintage style and a knack for curating events; has a story definitely worth telling.
Upon my arrival at the aged warehouse , I was greeted by JD who joked about me creating my own directions to get to his studio. We walked to his personal studio space which was a perfect representation of the work he had done, would soon release and the creative control the space allowed him. The walls covered by a previous exhibition that focused on African American youth in black and white contrast, personal paintings by none other than JD, and a table of foam board photos for his upcoming exhibition titled California Love, a true look at Los Angeles neighborhoods. As I got comfortable, he began to prep for his exhibition that would be held at the studio on May 18th.
As he settled into his element, I was able to really get to know the man behind the lens. JD an alumni of THE Ohio State University with a Bachelor in Physical Education, who found his way to photography and fashion through a part time job at local retail store in the Short North, Sole Classics. JD worked at the store as a sales associate and transitioned to the store manager after the owner Dionte Johnson began to trust the ideas and opinions of JD. While photography peaked his interest in 2011 when he purchased his first camera for fun, he found his way to Tumblr, but unlike most users he treated it more as blog and rarely reposted other users. The blog still lingers around for his occasional updates, but as he delved further into photography he created a website of his own that he could treat as a portfolio. He recalls some of his first jobs being capturing photos at local clubs and hitting up his friends to shoot.
“I love photos because I can see stuff that I forgot about.”
For JD, his life wasn’t always what he has worked hard to make it. Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, a small city with big city feels. He recalls growing up on the west side, a more urban side of town and attending a private school, which gave him a very different dynamic in terms of the people he would encounter. He attributes his neighborhood where he spent much of his time outside or playing video games and his predominantly white school to his ability to adapt wherever he goes.
“It was like the best and worst of both worlds.”
Soon after college JD sought out jobs that aligned with his collegiate career and eventually landed in the Behavioral Health field. It was at Quest for Independence where he worked with behaviorally and mentally challenged youth. The company shut down, after a disconnect between business operations, social workers and kids not necessarily being set up to succeed. In his bout to find employment in Physical Education, JD’s fashion roots were not lost. He had always been into shoes and fashion, while he remained lowkey during his time at Ohio State he made sure he was fashionable everyday. In 2011, with much recognition he launched “The Idea of Being Somebody” a concept and lifestyle movement based on three principles: self determination, self-education, and self-initiative. He began to do social events and sell t-shirts and realized he could use his following to make a profit. While he was never interested in doing parties, he always enjoyed social parties and events. With the former Two Truth Wednesdays, rebranded as The Wednesday Function JD has once again created a social movement that draws a crowd each and every week.
Photo: James Drakeford
“Fashion is like an icebreaker tool. Someone could be lame and a terrible person, but people will speak if they’re wearing something cool.”
Everydays A Lookbook, a movement also birthed from the following JD carried. He recalls always wanting to get dressed for class and his friends laughing and making jokes when he would hashtag his photos “#EverydaysALookbook”. He began to notice other people using the hashtag, which for him was something personal at the time, so he thought to create a movement. To him it doesn’t matter if it’s Monday or Saturday he’s going to treat them the same when he gets dressed for the day.
As his career has progressed, JD has been the lead photographer on projects such as The Columbus Book Project, a two part coffee table book of all things Columbus, teamed up with Sole Classics to hold The Streetwear Flea; an event that allows people to clear out their closets while making money and for brands to promote and sell merchandise and Culture Talk; discussions led by JD, community leaders and influencers. During his promising career, JD has transitioned into curating his own fashion line, which he never seen happening. With Honors, a unique and simple brand that encourages everyone who wears it that no matter what they do in life they should do it like they deserve a honor; walk with honor and live with honor.
After sitting with JD in his studio that spewed nothing but creative energy, I learned that he didn’t quite have a plan or an end goal. He’s never really done anything in life with the hopes of getting to a next, but solely because he has enjoyed perfecting his craft and being social. Something we don’t do too often, live in the now.
To keep up with JD be sure to follow him on social media: