V IS FOR VISUAL

staged, styled, and shot by Baseme Osuamkpe

We’re introducing our “V is for” campaign, an interview series shining a light on trailblazing medical professionals in our community. The campaign explores topics in healthcare that conveniently begin with our namesake letter V.

V IS FOR | JULY 28, 2021

About Baseme

Jack of all trades. Master of none tons. Baseme is a student dentist, model, visual designer, and all-around creative pushing boundaries in her personal and professional life. Take a peek through her editorial lens as she walks us through her process. 

Photographs by Baseme (@simply.baz)

"My self-portraits emerge out of protest, claiming that I am worthy of all the spaces I inhabit personally, physically, and intellectually."

how did you get started in modeling?

I started modeling a couple of months after graduating college in 2016. It was something I had always wanted to do, but my parents strongly emphasized education and wouldn't tolerate me spending a large amount of time in the fashion industry. I had always been a curvy woman, but by the time I was 23, I wasn't even close to sample size (0-4). Despite my proportions, I told myself that I had always been photogenic, and that God wouldn't have blessed me with these longs legs and facial bone structure if I wasn't supposed to use them in some fashion. So I began shooting with local photographers who shared my vision. Eventually, through networking and photoshoots, I was able to book paid runway shows and other gigs while being a freelance model.

what informs your work?

My dreams inform my work. I got into self-portraits during lockdown this summer out of anger at being type-casted. The shoots I was being considered for tended to merely highlight my blackness or emphasized maturity through regality. Although I am Black and I do hold myself to high standards, I'm also quirky, playful, alternative, and masculine. In the fashion world, that kind of spread tends to be reserved for thinner individuals of lighter complexions. My self-portraits emerge out of protest, claiming that I am worthy of all the spaces I inhabit personally, physically, and intellectually. I mirror editorials from magazines while using my dreams and aspirations as a muse with the intention of seeing myself represented as I deserve to be.

Baseme wears the Bandage Scissors Ear Piece, Pavé Cross Ear Cuff, and Pavé Ear Cuff.

"I have never been one to be boxed into an image, and I don't plan on doing so with my career."

what's involved in the process of a self-shoot?

My self-portraits come together in four parts: inspiration, design, shooting, and editing. Inspiration is probably the most fun part of the process. Here I take a concept — whether it be a journal entry, a song, or a statement — and literally dream of ways to represent such in physical form.

Next is design. In this phase, I research editorials, campaigns, and photographers to establish the mood of the shoot in terms of location, lighting, makeup, and wardrobe. I try to be as specific as possible to ensure quality in the potential event of having to scale down.

Shooting is the easiest phase. I practice frames with my phone camera and then mimick the desired frames on my DSLR. I have two Bluetooth remotes that I use, one for my Google Pixel phone and the other for my Canon SL3. Once in focus, I alternate posing for my phone and my camera for diversity in shots, only pausing when I need to change the frame. It's a relatively quick process if I have the previous steps executed properly as I can shoot a minimum of 10 shots in a minute.

The last phase is editing. Depending on the destination of my photo, I'll either use my phone apps or computer apps to edit. Having an SD converter makes the process easy to transer regardless. Here I lean on my initial inspiration, as well as photos from photographers and campaigns to narrow down images to those that most match the concept. I then move on to mirroring editing styles to convey the story. It's a pretty dynamic process, and I love being able to materialize my dreams into reality.

how did you decide on dentistry? why dentistry and not solely creative work?

I stumbled upon dentistry at 16 years of age in a high school elective course. Before I had planned on being an artist or a performer of some sort, but my parents thought otherwise. Dentistry first seemed attractive to me while pouring a dental cast of a pediatric mold. The entire process of mixing and pouring stone was very therapeutic to me, and it was at that point that I knew that dentistry was something that could possibly interest me for the rest of my life.

When I initially entered the working world, I started in retail. As the years passed, I realized that I had a knack for connecting with people. This skill was only strengthened with my undergraduate psychology degree along with my budding interests in community organization and social justice. By graduation, it became clear to me that I needed a career that allowed me to express myself artistically while also interacting with different people daily and influencing a greater change.

Like most artists, I'm sensitive about my work, and I don't think I have the heart to let my creations out into the world knowing that the interpretations of others may be vastly different than mine. When you release art into the world it's no longer yours to manipulate. Personally, I don't think I could let go on a large scale as a full-time artist.

what's your vision for your professional career?

I honestly see myself doing it all! The dream was to have a dental practice that is deeply involved in community and artistic efforts of the location it inhabits, with intentions of inspiring people to harness their innate, divine-given gifts — while simultaneously designing for an apparel company. However, that dream is evolving as I am realizing the realities of certain intersections between business, dentistry, and my personal health. I still want to do it all, but I am mitigating my expectations by getting my feet wet now. I am currently a second-year student dentist who's learning social media marketing while starting up her own dental fashion business. I have never been one to be boxed into an image and I don't plan on doing so with my career. I have no idea where this journey will take me, but I do know that it will incorporate my personal ABCs: artistry, beauty, and community. 

follow Baseme at @simply.baz

SHOP BASEME'S FAVORITES

EKG Ear Cuff - Sterling Silver
EKG Ear Cuff - Sterling Silver
EKG Ear Cuff - Sterling Silver
EKG Ear Cuff - Sterling Silver

EKG Ear Cuff - Sterling Silver

Pavé Ear Cuff - Sterling Silver
Pavé Ear Cuff - Sterling Silver
Pavé Ear Cuff - Sterling Silver
Pavé Ear Cuff - Sterling Silver

Pavé Ear Cuff - Sterling Silver

Endodontic Rotary File Ear Piece
Endodontic Rotary File Ear Piece
Endodontic Rotary File Ear Piece
Endodontic Rotary File Ear Piece
Endodontic Rotary File Ear Piece

Endodontic Rotary File Ear Piece

Wearing is Caring Mask w/ Chains - V Coterie
Wearing is Caring Mask w/ Chains - V Coterie
Wearing is Caring Mask w/ Chains - V Coterie

Wearing is Caring Mask w/ Chains

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