For DC-based photographer Derrel Todd, traveling is a matter of personal and professional freedom.
He recalls his years as a young student, when he saw classmates take advantage of study abroad and other travel programs – things that were financially out of reach for his family at the time.
“I said, I’m going to go to all those place,” said Todd, founder of FootPrint Fotos, whose photography has since taken him around the world many times over, working as a photographer for celebrities including Janelle Monáe, Raphael Saadiq and Stevie Wonder.
Todd also leads travel excursions with other DC-area photographers and creatives in an effort to share his own passion for seeing the world through his camera lens.
The latest trip was to Cuba, where the tropical beaches, colorful classic cars and unique cityscapes of the Caribbean nation served as a backdrop for a fashion photoshoot featuring the latest collection from DC-area independent clothing designer Kim Elleen. Elleen joined Todd and fellow local photographers Lance Curry, Damon Fleming, Tony Brown and Marcus Green as well as models Natasha Boler, Monika Mitchell and Melissa Michelle Harris, who also worked behind the camera as the makeup artist.
Freedom was a running theme during the trip. The word “freedom” is even embedded in the print of a black and white frock in Elleen’s collection.
“It was not lost one me that this collection was being photographed in a place where freedom isn’t taken for granted,” Elleen said, noting that Americans have only recently been able to travel more freely to Cuba, and many Cubans cannot afford to make the reciprocal trip stateside in the time since the country’s travel ban was lifted a few years ago.
The scenery, from the colorful old and new buildings in Old Havana, to the wide skies and blue-green water of the Boca Ciega beaches, fit with the season big fashion trends of bright colors, bold shapes and earthy leather textures. And in a place where residents can be seen dancing in the streets in the evening, it was the perfect place for fabrics that move.
Entertainment, Lifestyle & Style Reporter: Maggy François
Contributing Editor & Writer: Kim Elleen
Photographer: Derrel Todd