The moon descends and reflects off the Magazine Street sign as photographer Trenity “Trent” Thomas walks on an October night. “Being raised in a city such as New Orleans exhales my work…you can just feel the life all around you, the lives that came before and the lives that surround us currently,” says the young artist, who originally started out as a painter.
At such an early stage of his career and without any formal training, he’s already accomplished a large portfolio. His work has previously been featured in OffBeat and he has worked with local artists such as Pell, Kr3wcial, $leazy Ez, and many others. A 2018 graduate of L.W. Higgins High School in Marrero, it was obvious to him from an early age that he loved photography. “I was always passionate about art and getting a camera from my mom for my birthday strengthens my love for what I do. Having a camera really set a bond between me and people.”
According to his CV, Trenity has also been in various juried exhibitions, which include Jonathan Ferrara Gallery’s 24th Annual No Dead Artists International Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Art and the Louisiana Contemporary juried exhibition presented by The Helis Foundation at the Ogden Museum of Southern Arta. His photographs have also received international attention when they were chosen for exhibition in “photovogue,” a prestigious collection of photographs curated by the photo editors of Vogue Italia.
He talks about the first time he realized he had something special.
“There was this picture I took downtown of this girl and this guy I had set up. I told myself I can really go far if I keep this going and stay consistent…that was the first shoot that I was really confident in.”
Thomas’s work shows a variation of horror-influenced shots and classic high-styled photography. Most recently, over this past Halloween season, he accomplished designing and creating a Hansel and Gretel-inspired shoot.
The way Thomas captures the eerie feeling of the Grimm German fairy tale gives off a sinister vibe—but with a New Orleans twist. “The city is so known for its many voodoo stories [and connotations] and its past ties into this photoshoot…it should feel as though this [European story] took place in this city [instead].” Whether it be from the sharp butcher’s knife or the vintage horror mask hanging off of the dresser, the pictures develop a cinematic feel and displays a terrifying jaw-dropping feel to it all when viewing.
“I love shaping my photos around horror elements because horror is a genre I really enjoy. When it comes to movies, I want to put that part of me into my work.” Citing Roger Deakins, the Academy Award-winning cinematographer, as his main inspiration, Thomas is committed to taking photos that capture fear and the ominous supernatural-esque, a trope that most photographers try to avoid. (Deakins has worked on everything from Sid and Nancy to The Big Lebowski and Blade Runner 2049 and elements of his style can be seen in Thomas’s work.) But horror remains a top priority.
“Horror makes you think and question how to deal with things and also feel towards something. During the Hansel and Gretel photoshoot I had my models really get into character and think about the story. The house where we shot in the Garden District had a spooky vibe to it which helped bring the photoshoot to life like I had hoped.”
Thomas is not just limited to horror shoots, though. Most recently he has been influenced by movies outside of the horror genre like Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together and music and visuals from artists such as Swedish singer-songwriter Snoh Aalegra. He also states that photographers Rafael Pavarotti and Gordon Parks are a huge influence on his career. Thomas has taken photos of various artists such as model and fellow photographer Andre’ Hubbard, designer Christopher Micheal and stylist Brandon Nguyen.
“In the long term I hope to take behind-the-scenes photos for movies and take cover shots for magazines,” says Thomas. “I just want to stay creative and persistent because art is what makes me feel most alive.”
Follow Trenity’s art and adventures on Instagram @504degrees. For more information and/or to order prints, visit 504degrees.com.