I met Camiesha in an Uber pool in Manhattan. I got into the car and was immediately struck by her beauty. I told her so. “Are you a model?” I asked. She said, “No, but I want to be.” We exchanged numbers and two months later she agreed to meet me in Rockaway on the last perfect summer day in September. We met at Playland, and talked for maybe 15 minutes before walking to the beach. And we just started shooting. Cameisha knew exactly what to do, how to look, how to move, she’s so natural in front of the camera so that the shoot itself is like poetry. It just flows and the images are reflective of her love of modeling and my bliss behind the camera.
Growing up in Jamaica, Camiesha started modeling in competition and runway shows at 7 years old. Six years later, she came to New York City to attend school but was sent to meet some family, she is one of 15 siblings, in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Throughout high school, she could not quell her dream of modeling. Camiesha discovered that she had a grandmother living in New York, and she knew that to launch a modeling career, she needed to be there. “I always had the burning desire to live in NYC and to follow that dream,” she explained. “However, it was not a ‘safe’ profession, as people in my family would say.” After her 18th birthday, she left for New York without telling anyone where she was going.
“I read a lot of magazines and self help books as I had no mentors, or anyone who believed in a dream only I felt and only I could see. Meditation became a big part in my life after all the failures I’ve endured during my journey. Journaling is an escape for me; it spills my mind out on papers that I can read over to relearn myself.” – Camiesha Cassanova
I love Rockaway Beach and was elated when Camiesha agreed to meet me there. I was also elated when the weather decided to cooperate, since the forecast had predicted showers. There’s a joy when you’re collaborating with someone to make something beautiful, but it’s even more exciting when that person is a complete stranger. We saw a motorcycle, and we were like, Oh it would be so great if we could ask the owner if we could use his motorcycle in a couple of pics. And then that guy appeared. Cameisha would invite who ever she could into the photos. When we were by the swings, she summoned over these two little girls, “Can I push you on the swings?” “Don’t scratch me!” said one of the little girls. Bratty Irish! In front of Saint Rose of Lima, where my mom was baptized, she reached out to take photos with a nervous chihauhau. Princess was not accommodating. So we had this great playing going on, but as soon as the distraction was over, Camiesha popped right back into to glamour mode.
“When I first came to the USA, I was home sick, culture-shocked, and scared. I missed my little island, my comfort zone. That is where I felt I can do anything,” said Camiesha. “Coming here made me feel so small. I realize now at the age of 22 that fear and doubt is what prevented from being that fierce 7 year old that I once was. Now I’m evolving into something more, a wilder fire, to finally become the model I always was, and wanted to be.”
Follow Camiesha on Instagram @theresamoraltothestory.