Aitina Fareed-Cooke’s beginnings may not have started off ideal. Losing her biological mother to drug abuse, dealing with low self-esteem and depression, left her feeling worthless as a child. However through the support of her adoptive mother, a few mentors, and youth programs during her teens, she was given the opportunity to strive.
She learned about the “magic” of photography and film and since has started her own photo and film business, Get Fokus’d Productions, specializing in children & family portrait photography and commercial video. “My camera is my weapon of mass creativity and as the artist behind the lens I am able to capture reality’s truth with the hope to influence thought in those around me.”
Aitina has served as a Say Yes Community Schools’ Navigator, Young Audiences WNY Education Coordinator and Teaching Artist, Youth Services Site Coordinator with the CAO N.U.R.T.U.R.E. Academy, Boys & Girls Club Youth Development Professional, Youth Skill Builder and Mentor with The Heart Foundation and Gateway Longview, and CEPA Gallery Photography Teaching Artist. She currently dedicates her time to her photo and film business, serving as a teaching artists for Young Audiences WNY and CEPA Gallery, and managing a youth program/movement, Young & Fokus’d, that she created in order to promote youth who display dedication, perseverance, and “fokus” in their academics, arts, and/or their community. She teaches youth how to use art as their weapon and voice through life’s challenges. Her desire is not only to compose compelling images and film that allow viewers to reflect on life, evoke ideas, and to construct their own stories, but also to teach and inspire the next generation with this tool of expression.
Read Aitina’s testimonial about CEPA and photography, “She says that photography saved her life: From “troubled teen” to award winning photographer,” on WKBW Buffalo.