black and white portrait of anothony supreme, j coles photographer.
Photo: @mikecolew

Hey, You’re Cool! Anthony Supreme

J. Cole is a worldwide superstar. He and his Dreamville team have traveled the nation as well as other countries and put on shows for fans clamoring for their music. But every team of superstars has someone with them at all times documenting everything. For Cole and Dreamville, that person is Anthony Supreme. The young photographer and director has helped capture every moment on tour, lent a hand photographing J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only album cover and shot many scenes for Cole’s recent HBO documentary. We caught up with Anthony to discuss his photography and directing career as well as working alongside J. Cole and Dreamville.

J. Cole in green bathroom in orange prison jumpsuit during 4 Your Eyez Only tour
J. Cole. Photo: Anthony Supreme

What got you into photography?

It was pretty random really. Photography wasn’t like my dream or anything. It was all kind of a huge discovery for me really. I’ve always been into art, but at the time never knew what my medium was. One day I just kinda picked up a camera. I didn’t start with photography, I started making music videos in my hometown of Monroe, North Carolina and in Charlotte for money. Then once I moved to L.A. I started taking more photos as another source of income. I never went to school for anything, I just watched Youtube videos. I made so many mistakes, but I just kept learning and learning.

You’re also a director. How did you manage to start doing that?

Directing is where I began, really. I just would watch a lot of movies and then one day I made a video for free about 5 years ago for good friend of mines who was a rapper. A few weeks later, a group of guys reached out to me about doing a music video for them for $600 [laughs]. So after that, I was kinda hooked. It was more of a hustle for a very long time. Then I started understanding the art of it, which I learned from directors of photography and people I’d hire for projects. Once I moved to L.A., having access to more people and gear really allowed me to grow.

How’d you start working with J. Cole and Dreamville?

It was through my good friend Scott Lazer. I met him about a year before moving to L.A. We’re both from North Carolina. He had a project for Cole coming up and was like, “Do you wanna come out and do photos for the J.Cole album.” It was something I always wanted to do. What’s also weird is that a week before, I was in a record store with my girlfriend talking about wanting to do an album cover. So it was kind of amazing getting a text from Scott a week later about doing it.

Portrait on Sabrina Claudio looking into mirror in robe
Sabrina Claudio. Photo: Anthony Supreme
What direction were you going with the 4 Your Eyez Only album cover?

Cole’s creative directors lead most of the album design. I wasn’t there for the process behind that. But to be honest most of the album photography wasn’t planned, it was all just randomly going out and shooting content. I shot well over 10,000 photos during that time frame, which may or may not be seen anytime soon. [laughs]

What’s the typical day in the life of the photographer for Cole and Dreamville?

Cole is a pretty private person. Unless it’s something that’s actually planned out. Cole isn’t on his IG at all and if he is, then it’s very short. Cole himself doesn’t really need photos unless they’re going to be used for something special. So most of the time it’s pretty simple [laughs].

You guys are currently on the 4 Your Eyez Only tour. How’s tour life been so far?

It’s great! I’ve done a few tours before with Cole. Before this one. it’s always been a heavy struggle. Sleeping and living on tour was horrible. But this tour is super amazing, really! It’s great people and great artists at Dreamville.

What’s coming next for you?

Directing-wise I’m working on a pilot for a miniseries with a few good friends to hopefully end up on Netflix or a cool streaming platform. More music videos with cool up and coming artists. And Dreamville content. I’ve started slowly working with clothing and commercial brands, too. Recently did a MASS APPEAL “Contact High” piece. Just hustling and grinding. Still living in a car and saving money [laughs].

J. Cole sitting on a porch in hockey jersey
J. Cole. Photo: Anthony Supreme

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