What happens when passion meets motivation? Ask Uniontown, Pennsylvania native Xavier Thomas. It wasn’t too long ago that Thomas was finding his way while honing his craft. Now he’s turning his craft into cheese.
A few years ago Thomas launched his own photography brand called ArtLikeUs. The prolific photographer quickly made a name for himself in the Pittsburgh region, shooting Hip Hop heavyweights such as Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Young Jeezy and more.
With building a foundation for his brand, it was now time for Thomas to build. And it wasn’t long before he began to do just that. ArtLikeUs received a major boost after a photo taken by Thomas, of rap veteran Fabolous, was shared by the emcee and mainstream outlets like XXL and The Source.
“I was with Heemi and he had a show in New Castle. He was opening for Fabolous and Red Cafe and we went out there and he did his performance. When Fab came out…at that point he was still the legendary Fab. Like I couldn’t believe I was looking at that nigga. I was in the crowd in low-key awe. At that time that was the biggest celebrity I had ran into.”
Thomas took the opportunity and was able to secure a – pun intended – fabulous shot of the Brooklyn emcee. “I swear it seemed like he walked up to the front of the stage and was looking at me, and I took a picture. It felt like he was almost posing.”
That night’s photo (shown above) went viral and a new relationship was soon created.
Thomas continued to work with Fabolous and has taken photos of him all across the country. “Fab is real laid back,” Thomas said. “He’s real chill and funny. He’s just a real nigga, but famous as fuck.”
Most recently Thomas worked with Fab in Philadelphia at the Live Nation produced Made In America festival. Thomas said his experience working the music event was highlighted with an unexpected encounter.
Thomas recalled his time during the event at the D’usse Lounge. “It was heavy…and then they said no more pictures and started locking the shit down. I’m at Made In America, I knew what that meant,” Thomas said. “But I didn’t want to stop shooting pictures because if I didn’t shoot it, it didn’t happen.”
“So then I see headlights, and I’m like someone is really violating, that’s wild,” he said. “And then (Jay Z) steps out. And then Beyoncé and Blue get out. So I’m mind-blown right now. And then these niggas come up the steps, and in my head I’m going crazy. But in that situation I couldn’t let it show.”
While definitely a milestone for the young photographer, Thomas said his most memorable moments range from his time at DJ Khaled ‘s house to spending time with Fabolous to having full access at a Wiz Khalifa concert in Pittsburgh.
“That was like the ‘I made it moment,’” Thomas said about working the Wiz show. “I’m shooting the reason I started shooting. Like the reason I picked up a camera is right in front of me on this stage, in front of thousands of people. And my duty right now is to take pictures…man that shit meant so much.”
Similar to his relationship with Fabolous, his time with Wiz has also taken him around the country to places like Atlantic Records in New York, Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, and even to Wiz’s mother’s house.
So what’s next for the photographer? The sky is the limit. Right now you can catch him on the road less traveled, striving to reach the next limit, while taking photos of your favorite emcee’s favorite emcees.
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