This is a study of character in the age of covid; an embrace of the radiantly defiant. The agreement of pain and beauty, faces and color. The Covid era has starkly revealed dangers oppressed communities face in a way that can no longer be ignored by the masses. As these communities come to the forefront, so do their vibrant cultures, voices, and intellect. My work is a defense against the reductive idea that these are the broken; rather, I see a gorgeous defiance of that tired narrative.
I am a commercial portrait photographer that became interested in reportage work after the Laquan McDonald shooting scandal of 2015. I wanted to use my abilities to subvert a misrepresented narrative, to show beauty where we were told there was a broad, benign, and bleak struggle for equity.
My goal is to represent my city in a compelling way. I want to make work that represents a full spectrum of emotion. The joy and the sorrow, the humility and the aggrandizement, the contempt, the fear, the exuberance.
I strive to make good work that doesn't redact from the message. The subjects, and the people that are attached to them deserve the attention, care and nuance of an artist and not a quick headline. I use my skill to elevate rather than oppress.
As I’ve covered police reform, I’ve begun to see how this affected everything from the school to prison pipeline, workers rights, gender, prison reform, free speech, media representation and systemic oppression.
Being a portrait photographer has impacted my journalism work, and being a journalist has informed my professional career. Identity can be an action of protest; there are subtler forms of protest alive in the joy and rage of life; I strive to show this subtle protest through embracing rather than minimizing the people I am honored enough to photograph.
Quotes in this piece are from:
'Black Folk Can't Get No Rest' By Tiffany Walden
'Who do we mean when we say "Black Lives Matter"' By Matt Havey