This A1 Cast of Canon Creatives Share Their Tips For Success

A stellar group of Canon Creatives share their paths to success & advice before their appearance at ComplexCon 2022.

Canon Complex Con Header

Image via Canon

Canon Complex Con Header

If there’s one thing that Canon knows, it’s quality. For the better part of a century Canon has delivered A1 quality when it comes to their products, so it’s no surprise that they’d stand alongside a superstar cast of iconic photographers and filmmakers to bring out the true value and range of Canon Products as part of their Canon Influencer Program.

The program includes legendary skateboarder photographer Atiba Jefferson, timeless filmmakers Coodie & Chike, GRAMMY award-winning Ben Hagarty, thrill-seeker and MTV ‘Dare to Live’ host Rory Kramer, boundary-bending creative Sam Newton, and aerial photography expert Natalie Amrossi. While they all stand at the top of their profession through breathtaking visuals, incredible artistic direction, and consistent dedication to their craft – they’ve also all had incredibly different journeys and philosophies that got them to where they are now.

This weekend at ComplexCon, this unreal cast of creatives will be on-hand to share their stories, extend their wisdom, and revisit some of their greatest work of their career through a series of conversations hosted by Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg. 

But before we step foot in Long Beach for what’s sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we checked in with the cast of Canon’s Creative Partners to get a taste of what’s to come during the big show as they shared the best advice they’ve received, the lessons they’ve learned pursuing their path, their go-to Canon products, and more.



Canon Complex Con Atiba Jefferson

Atiba Jefferson, a Canon Explorer of Light, is truly living his best life. Imagine getting to work in a profession that combines your passions for skateboarding and photography with the opportunity to hang out with and photograph your friends. Well that’s the life Jefferson leads. Not only has he shot for top skate magazine Thrasher, he’s also photographed athletes and cultural icons like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Tyler, the Creator, Chadwick Boseman and Virgil Abloh are calling for that Atiba Jefferson. That’s the result of hard work and dedication. Atiba was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado and now resides in Los Angeles with a career that has taken him from the halfpipes to half court and everywhere in-between. 

He has over 25 years of photography experience and his career shows us the heights you can go when you love what you do and people love how you do it. When asked what gets you furthest in this line of work, he simply states, “Being nice to people.” That’s amazing.

On Capturing Pro Athletes Vs. Shooting Skaters:

“There are lots of differences and similarities in shooting skateboarding. When shooting skateboarders, we usually are getting kicked out of places. Shooting athletes are usually a commercial shoot in studio and craft services. Both are fun. I use a different part of my brain.”

Wisdom From Working with Major Cultural Icons:

“Michael Jordan told me the more you do what the photographer wants, the quicker you get home.”

How He Describes His Photography Style:

“I would say clean and composed.”

Best Creative Advice He Ever Got:

“Learn the rules then break them.”

Atiba’s Go-to Canon Product:

“The Canon EOS R5. I love that camera so much.”



Canon Complex Con Coodie and Chike

It’s not where you start, it’s where you end up. In 2022 the duo of  Coodie & Chike continue to prove the value of consistency and authenticity when it comes to making films. This year marks twenty years since the creative duo initially crossed paths, and just now it feels like they’re truly stepping into their moment – especially with the success of their controversial Netflix documentary, jeen-yuhs.

They’ve spent two decades telling stories powered by their own production company CreativeControl.TV, covering a wide range of projects through film, television, digital and tech but maintaining a soulful, authentic thread throughout. They’ve delivered powerful documentaries like Benji, Muhammad Ali: The Peoples Champ, and have been on-hand to capture the soul of music artists like Erkyah Badu, Wale, Mos Def, Gil Scott-Heron, and more, with one mission in mind – telling stories from the heart. 

Coodie & Chike are visionaries, in every sense of the word.

Coodie & Chike on Working As a Duo:

Coodie: “You always have someone to talk to. Yes, we are business partners but, we are friends first. You know you always have someone to share memories with. What may feel like work to most feels like a vacation for us. We are working and we are kickin it enjoying each other’s company. In addition, two heads are always better than one.”

Chike: “We also benefit from taking advantage of each other’s strengths which limits the exposure of our weaker areas. Where one of us has a weakness has a strength. We have to really rely on learning and respecting one another’s strengths as well as being honest with ourselves when it comes to areas that we may not be as strong in.” 

Coodie & Chike On Their Filmmaking Philosophies:

Chike: “Forcing nothing. Everything has to be pure, organic, and should come naturally. My process starts off as an observer. I observe everything and subconsciously allow my mind to siphon through and take notes on my observations. I took a lot of time to build up what I consider my style. I’ve done a lot of mental cataloging over the years. During the early parts of my career I would identify the things I love. I’d tear things out of magazines and books repeatedly. I would create journals of things that I liked to determine what my style was. I also get inspired by art, photography, and drawings. I can imagine an entire story around a still moment.” 

Coodie: “My primary philosophy is let go and let God. Sometimes ideas don’t come the way you think they would come. Although it’s not what you want, when the idea appears, God creates something greater than what you could have imagined so if you let go, listen, and pay attention to the real creator, which is God, then you can make great work.” 

On The Importance of Showcasing Black Stories in Their Work:

Chike: “Very important! It’s a priority to showcase the nuances of black culture. If we utilize these stories as tools, we create empathy. If you don’t know about something you’re going to dismiss it. People dislike other cultures because they are not informed. We utilize our work to inform. The more you know about me and the nuances of my culture, the more you’re going to care and want less harm done to my culture. Engaging in these cultural conversations creates vulnerable space and fosters growth. Nurturing this vulnerability with one another means you’re less likely to want to hurt that opposing person which creates empathy.”  

Coodie: “And, I mean, it’s important because it’s the only thing I can relate to because I’m black (laughs) In Hollywood, a lot of the writer’s don’t live our culture. It’s important for us to tell our stories because we relate on a whole other level.” 

Best Filmmaking Advice They’ve Received:

Chike: “Show and prove on a small scale that you can create what you’re trying to create on a large scale. Hearing that allowed us to start to tackle things on a small scale and built the confidence to tackle more ambitious projects on a large scale.” 

Coodie: “Mine was from Napoleon Hill. ‘If you can conceive and believe you can achieve.’” 

Coodie & Chike’s Go-To Canon Product:

Coodie: “It’s all in stages. My first one was the GL1 & 2, GL1 and the XL1 was my go to. After that it was the Canon EOS 5D.”

Chike: “The product that impacted us the most was the EOS 5D Mark II. The versatility, price point, and accessibility, allowed us to get our vision out and our message out in a way that we can control. It didn’t tie us up. We didn’t have to wait on a budget or resources.” 



Canon Complex Con Ben Hagarty

Ben Hagarty, a Canon CO-LAB ambassador, has been on the grind long enough to know the importance of paying it forward. He powered himself through The University of Northern Iowa, and put it all on the line to move to Los Angeles with a dream to “make it.” Along the way, Hagarty took every gig he could, all in the name of his dreams. Four years later he’s on-stage in front of thousands of people, panning in and panning out for the headlining act at Coachella, Beyoncé. Yes, Beyoncé!

And now after months of sleeping on the floor at his friends’ house, he’s finally made it. Yes, one could define making it by winning a GRAMMY alongside one of the most iconic figures in modern music. But once could also define it as now being in the position to give back. Alongside awe-inspiring filmmaking, Ben Hagarty founded a brand called Black With No Cream in 2017 to provide better education, access, and networking for creatives. He’s giving back and building a community, and it’s one of the most satisfying parts of his position.

Biggest Lesson Learned On His Come-Up:

“Honestly, it really just comes down to two things… Saying ‘yes’ and being a good person. I think my willingness to go above and beyond with every project (big or small) and do it with a smile on my face is what opened doors for me. It’s not easy being nice to a dick, but sometimes you just gotta kill ‘em with kindness and the people who matter will take notice.”

Ben’s Advice For Creatives:

“Stay focused. Don’t let social media or any outsiders distract you from the goal. It’s easy to focus on what others are doing and their success, but oftentimes – it’s a facade. Just focus on what makes you happy, do whatever it takes to learn how to be great, and show up every single day. It will come.”

On Winning A GRAMMY with Beyoncé:

“I know a Grammy.. like what the hell! My parents have my award hanging on their wall. It was unbelievable. Beyonce is one of the most talented individuals I have ever met and I will forever cherish working with her forever. That project was so monumental to me, I can’t even begin to describe it.

Importance on Creating ‘Black With No Cream’:

“While I was on tour with ScHoolboy Q making the web series and social content – I started to attract a lot of young videographers / photographers. I got so many DM’s with loads of questions about how to do what I do and coming from Iowa, I felt responsible to respond because I know what it’s like to come from a place with very little resources. 

Eventually, the questions grew by the thousands and I couldn’t maintain it so I decided to bring everyone together in a community platform to ask their questions with the hope that the community could come together and answer them. This was the birth of Black With No Cream. A community that brings creatives together to share their resources, ask questions, offer jobs, and build friendships. We’ve got thousands of members from all around the world. It’s sick.”

Ben’s Go-To Canon Product:

“I have been really liking my Canon EOS R3 lately. The camera is so light and feels great in the hand. The images produced from that camera are gorgeous.”



Canon Complex Con Natalie Amrossi

How far can your passion take you? Just ask Natalie “Misshattan” Amrossi, a Canon CO-LAB ambassador. In 2014 she made the life-changing decision to leave behind her finance career to follow her aspiration in life which is photography. Now eight years later she’s one of the most notable female photographers out there with a hefty social media following supporting her as each day she ticks off another goal on the bucket list.

She’s landed opportunities from Jaguar, Nike, and Adidas – while also has had her work featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vogue and other major publications. She’s shot awe-inspiring aerial shots, designed album covers, posted the first-ever authenticated NFT in Instagram, and has traveled the world from Vancouver to Thailand.

So how far can a dream take you? Pretty far if you’re willing to take that leap. Natalie Amrossi bet on herself and after all she’s accomplished, she doesn’t regret a thing.

Natalie on her Leap of Faith from Corporate Life to Photography:

“Leaving my corporate job was always fantasized but never planned. To be honest, I never thought I would have the courage to actually make the jump. One morning, after shooting for a luxury car brand all over NYC throughout the night, I felt a huge rush of anxiety when I got to the office, and realized I didn’t bring my camera into work. All I kept thinking about were the photos I took the night before, and how I wished I could just see them. It hit me, and I resigned then and there.”

Natalie on Self-Discovery Through Photography:

“This industry is not always as easy and glamorous as social media makes it out to be. There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears going into every piece of art created. Being a freelancer makes me realize how resilient I am. Surviving in this industry means you need to  have a hustler mentality and grind to reach newer heights. “

Natalie on the Struggles Navigating the Photography World As a Woman:

“It hasn’t been easy navigating this space as a woman. Unfortunately, we don’t get treated the same and the gender wage gap is significantly noticeable.  I constantly feel as if I need to work harder just to prove my value as an artist. With these disadvantages comes opportunity for change. I believe that this industry is moving in the right direction and doors are finally opening up for women.”

Advice for Women Pursuing Photography as a Career:

“The best advice I can give women hoping to pursue a career in photography is to stay laser focused. Any negativity is just noise that needs to be blocked out. If you stay focused on the art, everything else will fall into place. It’s up to us to be the change we want to see.”

Natalie’s Go-To Canon Product:

“My Canon EOS 1DX is a forever favorite, but the new EOS R system cameras are truly unbeatable. Shooting with the Canon EOS R5 and the RF28-70mm f/2 lens is game changing. I feel like I don’t need anything else when I rock that setup.”


Canon Complex Con Rory Kramer

Rory Kramer’s YouTube page would make any traveler jealous. The California native and Canon CO-LAB ambassador,  has spent the last number of years living and exploring – traveling to India, Vietnam, Malibu, and Hawaii, – while capturing it all from his aptly titled series ‘a Rory Kramer vision.’ One of the most mesmerizing videos features him skydiving from thousands of feet above with some of the most experienced skydivers on the planet, and somehow in the midst of free falling down to the earth – he captures it all with a smile on his face.

It’s the thrill that excites Rory, which is probably why he was chosen to host his own MTV series Dare to Live. It’s probably why he’s been in the trenches capturing images and video for acts like Avicii, The Chainsmokers, Steve Aoki, Rae Sremmurd, Drake, Justin Bieber and more. Rory actively uses his own platforms to encourage others to chase their dreams, live outside of their comfort zone, and live life to the fullest – and he tells that story through his art.

Rory’s Start in Filmography:

“My mom, Susan aka Savage Susie.  She had one of those VHS shoulder cameras, as well as a Canon point-and-shoot.  My friends and I would take the camera all throughout high school capturing the lives we were living.”

What He’s Learned From Shooting with Justin Bieber for ‘JUSTICE’ Album:

“To take time for yourself.  We were towards the end of shooting the first location of three, when Justin said to me, ‘Make sure to take a moment for yourself today.’  He knew this was my first album shoot and it being a special moment for me, that he wanted me to have a little something for myself to remember.  Typically on shoots, I am so locked in that all I sometimes remember is what’s on the memory card at the end of the day, so this was nice to pull back and slow down and make a point of making a few memories off camera that I can have to draw inspiration from in the future.”

Rory on The Most Important Thing to Execute an Artist’s Vision:

“Listen and drop your own ego.”

Best Advice He’s Received From a Peer:

“The best creative advice was from Rob Dyrdek when I was filming my TV show.  He said to let the small things go and focus on the big things.  The more I could put my name on the show the better. That advice let me focus on getting my name to appear along with the title of the show.”

Rory’s Go-To Canon Product:

“Right now I am rocking the Canon EOS R5.”



Canon Complex Con Sam Newton

Turtlenecks. Turtlenecks everywhere. Sam Newton’s style of filmmaking is original, exceptional, versatile and without a doubt features an impeccable fashion sense – all at the same time.  Being a travel videographer and as a Canon CO-LAB ambassador, he’s traveled around the world to over 30 countries, capturing picturesque landscapes, clean visuals, and creating awe-inspiring videos, but even just saying that feels like we’re short changing him. Especially when you look at his Instagram and he’s making comedic music videos with his friends.

Sam never wants to be put in a box because there’s so much to explore and so much to conquer. He absolutely loves the freedom that comes with creating passion projects inspired by whatever he’s feeling at the time. It all comes back to storytelling with his art, and conveying the best story – whether it’s from the alps of Iceland or creating a viral-hit like “Camera Man’’ (“open up your heart, and I’m gonna open up my apeture”). Sam Newton shows the true range of a creator when nothing’s off-limits.

Sam on Getting Started in Filmmaking:

“I picked up a camera my freshman year of college and started making short videos for clubs on campus. When I graduated I bought a ticket to Europe and brought my camera and left on a 3 year journey around the world living out of a backpack going from hostel to hostel making money by doing small travel commercials for companies for $300-$500 each to make enough money to buy a plane ticket to the next country.”

How Traveling Has Affected His Life & Craft:

“I owe everything to traveling. I didn’t get to travel much as a kid, and once I was able to get out and explore it opened my eyes to the uniqueness of the world. The people- the cultures- the stories were all vastly different and that keeps me so inspired as an artist. It allowed me to put into perspective the impermanence of life and the beauty of living it on your terms.”

Describing The Sam Newton Style of Photography:

“Different. I pride myself on making big ideas come to life that don’t fall into any category.  Whether is a travel film or stupid song in a turtleneck I think my films reflect the weird person I am and I’m proud that in a world of trends and algorithms that I keep creating films and videos that are true to me and when I die people can look back at what I made and say “that Sam guy sure made some crazy ideas come to life.”

Sam’s Favorite Part of Making YouTube Content:

“Freedom. Making films that I want to make and bringing them to life. Youtube allows true creative agency. I can think of an idea that I want to make and don’t have to consult with a boss or client to make it happen, I just have to get a team together that believes in my vision and go make it happen.”

Sam’s Go-To Canon Product:

“I shoot with the Canon EOS R5 C. It has everything I need as a filmmaker. 8k raw for my travel films, amazing autofocus for my YouTube or vlogging – I take this camera everywhere.”

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