Diallo French

Photo by Angie Jennings – 2017

A little about Diallo from his website:

Javonne Films & Photography is the work of filmmaker/photographer Diallo Javonne French. For over ten years Diallo has built relationships with local and national musicians. His work captures pure and honest musical moments.

Born in Kansas City, Diallo Javonne French started as a musician. He began his filmmaking career when he bought an 8mm camera from a pawn shop. Diallo taught himself production by shooting super 8mm and 16mm short films.

Diallo attended Clark Atlanta University, majoring in Mass Communications, Radio/T.V./Film. While in school he worked as a production assistant on music videos for TLC, Outkast, Xscape, Goodie Mob, and with director Hype Williams. He is an award winning filmmaker and photographer with a BET (Black Entertainment Television) film to his credit entitled May This Be Love. His photographs have been used on Hallmark Cards, and in music magazines. His work has been exhibited in the American Jazz Museum, The Box Gallery, Keyhole Art Gallery, Vine Street Studio, Arts KC Gallery, and the Buttonwood Art Space.

How long have you been a photographic artist?

About 15 years.

What drew you to photography as a form of expression?

I started as a filmmaker. I became interested in jazz and music photography after working at The American Jazz Museum. I was spending a lot of time in the Blue Room getting to know all the local musicians. I felt compelled to photograph and document the culture.

Are there any artists or art styles that help inspire your work?

Herman Leonard is my favorite photographer. He was one of the earliest to photograph the jazz culture. Gordon Parks is another artist I’ve admired. I’ve always preferred the black and white image over color. Black and white captures the essence of the subject.

Has your work seen any transitions or transformations from when you first began in this medium? If so, in what way?

When I first started shooting it was just a little hobby. The great jazz musician Bobby Watson was the one that told me I wasn’t just taking photos, but I was documenting Kansas City’s current jazz scene. I began to take it more seriously after that. What I’m doing has a lot of meaning to me, and hopefully to others. I hope that my images will be around long after I’m gone to celebrate this great culture.

With the quarantine in place, how are you using your photography to deal with being in isolation?

Before the quarantine I began production on a music documentary. The film will use a lot of my photographs. I’ve basically been going through my archives and picking photographs to put in the documentary. It’s been a fun process going through all my work. The production of the film is on hold until things open up again.

What else would you like us to know about you and your work?

My motto about film and photograph is this: “There is something very magical about the marriage between music and film.” Music is my first love, and will always be at the center of my work. When people see my images I hope they can almost hear the music. I also hope it will inspire others to support not only jazz, but all forms of music. I pray we get back to a climate where people feel comfortable going out to support and listen to live music.

To learn more about Diallo visit his website and follow him on Instagram.


Instagram: diallo_javonne

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