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My Mother's Suit: Featuring Steven Onoja

My Mother's Suit


"What are those amazing suits?!?"

We were at Steven's home in Brooklyn, NY. It was Winter and we were about to head out into blisteringly cold weather for a shoot. As we rummaged through Steven's clothing, the suits sat there in the dark closet, yet even among Steven's impressive wardrobe, they commanded attention. Both of them shining with vibrant color and pattern, it was unlike anything I had ever seen.

S: "My Mother made them for me."

That must be a joke, I thought. This had to be from some huge label.

G: "You're joking."

S: "Not at all. I told her I needed new suits and this is what she created."

G: "Man, that is INCREDIBLE."

Steven's Mom lives back in Lokoja, Nigeria where Steven is from. She assembled all of the fabric and made the suit by hand-tailored exactly to her sons dimensions.

After 6 years of being separated, she was able to make the trip to New York City to see him. In her bag were the suits she had created.

Although she had to go back home a couple weeks later, the orange and blue colors stayed with him in Brooklyn-a reminder of home-and his Mothers love.

G: "You know we have to shoot these right?"

S: "Yes, but I'm waiting for the right time."

That time would be 6 months later, in May of 2017.

I was down in my hometown of Destin, Florida working on my Sons of the Sea project when Steven decided to make the trip down.

Over the next 4 days, we might have slept a total of 8 hours. It was non-stop. We were either shooting or editing, or eating Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits from Whataburger.

It was a blast. Everywhere we went, Steven would be breaking necks as people spun around, doing a 'double-take' as we walked by.

Women hung out of Range Rovers begging to take his photo.

Location after location, the creativity built and the shots got better and better.

By the time I took Steven to catch his ride home, we knew we had what he came for.

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