Reuben “Dubscience” Greene may seem like an overnight success to some. It may seem like yesterday when Reuben and his camera were a staple at Judah’s Juke Joint and other events around town, and today he is preparing for his first exhibition, Looking From The Outside In, taking place at The Living Well at 2443 North Charles Street this Saturday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. – click here for more information about the event and how to get tickets. But this was a journey for him. From his photojournalism, which has quickly become a vital part of the documentation of this city’s underground arts scene, to his skillful eye for capturing portraits to his compositions that make even his most commercial shooting something unique and special, Reuben’s talent is undeniable. And when you add his personal charisma, his easy smile, his ability to make people feel comfortable and his always-present professionalism, you have a photographer who will go far in the field. Find out more about Mr. Greene, including the origin of the “Dubscience” moniker, and learn more about how a man with a dream and a camera came to be such a creative force.
Dubscience: I was born in Flatbush but attended high school in Hempstead Long Island. After college my wife and I decided to relocate to Baltimore, starting a new chapter in our lives. The added plus is that the cost of living was cheaper for us, having decent jobs and still making the same money we were in New York.
Speakerbox: Tell me a bit about your background in general.
Dubscience: I learned how to walk in a photography studio. My mother was a makeup artist and mystepfather was a photographer. So, it was always something I was around but my heart wasn’t initially invested. I’ve held several jobs in the past, from lighting gigs to doing litigation collections for law firms. While living in New York I would work wedding photography gigs for my dad. His customers were so impressed with my work it made it hard for them to tell the difference between us. I’ve been an entrepreneur since the age of 8. It started with me selling stale penny candy out of the mail slot of our apartment. When my mother noticed I sold the entire bucket, she immediately took me to a wholesale store to acquire more. From there I moved on to making jewelry, baking, digital graphics & carpentry.Speakerbox: Where does the name “Dubscience” come from?
Dubscience: The name “Dubscience” started out as a pen name. I focused on writing poetry for a few years but as soon as I bought my first camera, I lost interest. Since I already had an online following, I carried the name over to the photography business and people followed.
Speakerbox: Why photography? Were there other artistic/creative things you enjoyed or that you were good at that you thought about pursuing instead of photography? Why did you pick photography instead of something else?
Dubscience: Photography is my stress reliever. Behind the lens is the only place I tend to lose myself. Before photography my artistic interest was focused on theatrical lighting. I studied the craft throughout high school and in college at SUNY Purchase. After leaving school I took on a lot of off Broadway work. Unfortunately, I found out that it was a lot harder for African-Americans to get into the Theater Unions in regards to the trade. Although I didn’t by my first camera until later on in life, when I did make the investment it was clear the this was something I could do and possibly profit from.Speakerbox: Most people first became aware of you as an event photographer showing up to chronicle this city’s underground performance arts scene and its local celebrities. How did that happen?
Dubscience: It started with me sending out a photo shoot proposal and receiving a response back from Civ Jones. She then referred me to B-Fly Denai. B told me about NowChild and the Judah’s Juke Joint event that OOH aka Derrick Jones had going on. From that moment on I was adopted by everyone I encountered. It was great experience because I lived here for a few years but didn’t know anybody. Definitely much props to those three for helping me start my photography career.
Speakerbox: Over time you’ve broadened your scope from event photography to portraits, fashion photo journalism, and even videography/short filmmaking – you’ve shot music videos and done some documentary-style stuff. How did that evolution take place?
Dubscience: Initially all I wanted to do was fashion and portraits but I had no network of models to start with. The only way to get my brand out there was to just show up at local free shows and pull out the camera. I was also introduced to Safiyatou and her #BaltimoreGirls Project in 2013. Working with her is always a great experience and always on the fly. Considering my past experience in the wedding photo business the photojournalistic style of my photography and film came naturally. It’s always, been about the story of my subjects from beginning to end. The first camera I bought did not the the capability to shoot video so I had to reinvest. The demand for it was there, I just had to take that leap of faith in my ability to produce. I still continue to improve the quality though…gotta keep people guessing.Speakerbox: I know in the last year you started pursuing photography full time and let go of your nine to five. How difficult was that decision? Do you regret it? How did you make that transition?
Dubscience: It was a very difficult decision. Luckily my wife loves me very much and see’s the potential in owning a commercial photography business. My family really supports me and I love them so much for that. Do I regret it??? Yes! Sometimes more often than I’d like too but, its a part of the game. When I worked full time, all I could think about was photography. It was very upsetting when I thought about making others thousands of dollars on a monthly basis while I scraped pennies together to feed my family. Why make someone else rich? My boss is diving an antique Porsche and her I come in a Hyundia. For the stress, travel time and aggravation, when I did the math… It just made more sense for take a year and prove to myself that I could do this.
Speakerbox: What is a typical day like for you? Or is there one?
Dubscience: A typical day consists of taking care of the family in the morning. Then returning home to focus on the business — admin duties, editing, researching techniques, phone calls, marketing on social media and brainstorming ideas to change the game. If I’m lucky I’ll also have a shoot or two thrown in there. Then it’s back to family time in the evening and late nights in the laboratory. I’ve also taken up photo walking with my photography partner Dominic Nell of Nellaware Photography…its allowed us both to draw from a new community of local businesses and customers by printing our work and selling it.
Speakerbox: Photography seems to have become one of those things a lot of people have decided to take up in a professional or a semi-professional capacity…they get fairly decent equipment, design a watermark and next thing you know they’re charging to shoot. Do you feel that takes away from what you do?
Dubscience: To each there own. As far as I know there’s only one Dubscience. People book me because not only will they receive a quality product but they’ll also a receive an experience. I’ve got the know how and the drive to accomplish what they’ve envisioned. It feels good knowing that others trust your judgment by seeing your previous work alone.
Speakerbox: Tell me about the exhibition – what is it, and why now?
Dubscience: Looking From The Outside In is a multi-media event depicting the people I’ve come in to contact with throughout Baltimore. I’ve covered so many events in the past, It’s my way of saying thank you for their continued support. I’ve got some great work to display, both photo and video, most of which is unseen. Awesome live entertainment by the #BaltimoreGirls, Eze Jackson, Terrance Smalls & CreA-She. DJ Lone will be in the house spinning trip-hop and some slick house music. Light fare and all work will be on sale. There will also be a photo dedication to the late Big Brother Derrick Jones and a silent auction in which the proceeds will be donated back to his family.
Dubscience: Even as a small business you always want to look at expanding. I’ve partnered up with Dominic Nell and Safiyatou to form #TeamGenius, in which we offer our services as a tag team effort regarding photo shoots, events, corporate work and vending. Dominic and I are also planning a few workshop events, exhibitions and pop up shops in the very near future.