Shawn Theodore, better known on Instagram as XST (pronounced "Exist"), is currently an on-the-rise Philadelphia creative – as if he wasn't already.
His street portraits have garnered much attention due to their unique, high-contrast composition of subject and color. "Scattered moments and observations as seen across a vanishing landscape of African American neighborhoods," reads his Instagram profile.
As part of a portrait video series by renowned Cali-based photographer Morgan Maassen, Theodore is the subject of a beautiful profile piece. "I flew across the country and was received by one of the kindest, warmest humans I've ever met," Maassen says.
"This is a city that's sort of accented by gun violence," Theodore says in the video. "The thing about that, though, is that when I'm out and I'm trying to shoot, I'm looking for brighter moments."
And that's extremely apparent in his photographs.
The full-time creative director is always on the hunt for wild colors and beautiful humans when he's on the prowl. What's wonderful about Theodore is his willingness to connect with the people he's photographing.
"It is a scary thing to do, to walk up to a stranger, and just say, 'I wanna take your picture.' You have to disarm them with love. You have to let them know that you love what you do," he says. "And the only reason you're approaching this person is because there is a love for them."