Can you remember the first time you held a camera?
I think I must have been about 14 or 15. I was very much into cameras and laptops in my teens so my dad bought me a Sony Cybershot point-and-shoot one Christmas. I spent the rest of the day reading the whole manual haha!
What is a childhood image burnt into your mind?
Watching a movie at a drive-in cinema after my 7th birthday party.
Can you tell me an iconic photographer whose work you got very fascinated by? — What did you feel when looking at their images?
Sally Mann. My first introduction to her work was Immediate Family. She manages to convey a lot of emotion and poetry in her work and the every day. She shoots large format wet plates, it's incredible! Her work moves me, it makes me feel raw, and vulnerable yet powerful.
Do you think the“male gaze" is a myth?
No. I think it's naive to think that it doesn’t exist. For those who doubt there is such a thing, a good starting point is to realise that we all have a gaze, a perspective, a lens.
What was your first beauty/fashion shoot?
Probably in my 2nd year in college. I’ve probably done something before that as well, but I didn’t think I was particularly good at it.
What do you love most about Beauty/ Fashion Photography?
The execution and storytelling. Bars for execution is really high and it’s interesting to see how creative people get.
What do you most hate about Beauty/ Fashion Photography?
It can get generic or formulaic. I tend to fall into the trap of how I think something “should look like”. So I think there’s a certain limitation there for when you, for example want to get published, make a living or make a name for yourself in the industry. It also needs a lot more racial diversity behind the lens. As a black female artist, my personal experience is that the 'formula for success’ limits your voice, perspective and toolbox. It’s slowly changing now though which is fun to see.
If you would start out now what would you be doing, how would you go about // who would you work with and where would you be aiming?
This is a really hard question. I think my work has always been about conveying my emotions and representing myself - I also shoot a lot of self portraiture. So I think I’d maybe dare a little bit more, try different styles and play more. Definitely aiming to showcase in galleries and exhibitions.
Statistics show that less than 1 in 10 of the big money jobs i.e. Womenswear-, Beauty- and Perfume Campaigns (aiming at women)are shot by women. For example, in the last 4 1/2 years (when FFC started researching) not a single cover of Vogue Paris was shot by a female photographer. The top 2 photography agencies in the world only represent 5 women out of 37 photographers represented. Is there just no qualified female image makers out there?
People like to work with their ‘friends’ and‘ long time collaborators’. So in that instance you end up drawing from the same pool because these are the only people you see shooting for these magazines.They get more jobs and publicity, build up a very reputable portfolio, while the rest end up falling out of that circle. Many exceptional female talents are out there, it’s more about the will to look and give others a chance.
What would need to change in your opinion to get more women shooting the big prestigious covers and the big money jobs?
Looking outside the box and one’s sphere of influence, daring and giving more chances to a range of people.
One says it takes 10’000 hours to become a master of a craft, how long in hours/days/years did it take you to make a living?
I still don’t make a living from photography. My method has been that of having a steady job to secure my basic needs and what Iearn from photography is a bonus. This means I can dedicate more time to jobs that I’m passionate about and also represent what I stand for.
Who is your female fashion image maker icon and who is your the one to watch?
Who is your female fashion designer icon and who is your the one to watch?
A good team dynamic is so important. When everyone is excited about working together and pushing each other forward.
How important is your team?
My team very is important because images are a result of everyone doing their part, contributing with their skills and providing feedback so we can all reach our goal.
What do you say about the charge that all fashion photography is predominantly sexist?
We always have to be aware of representation; racial and gendered, to include conversations about who we represent and put in front and behind our lenses and teams. Sometimes this is done subconsciously, and by women too. I’ve done it, not gonna lie. I think that it is very important to look at what exactly is inspiring us as photographers to take certain images and why those images are so prevalent. We need to constantly and actively ask ourselves three questions: “what am I consuming, what story am I telling and who am I inspiring?”
There is a big surge of feminism at the moment - do you think that will affect Fashion & Beauty Photography?
Yes. It’s important to include a multitude of voices and the full spectrum of creativity from all walks of life and backgrounds. As we become more inclusive our perspectives and lenses will shift too. But again what images are we consuming as part of our idea formation will have a lot to say of how drastic or subtle the change will be.
What is your favorite shoot in you portfolio?
FT Boutique EasyWear Lookbook from 2016. I shot it outdoors, full daylight and of course it was promoting Tanzanian fashion.
What was your relation to design/fashion/beauty prior to working in this industry? Has it changed?
I don’t think I’ve had a special relation to it, but it inspired me in the way I saw things. It still does, but I think it’s also made me look for ways at the pitfalls and be more critical behind the scenes.
What qualities do you value in an agent
I’ve never had an agent, so I don’t have a clue, to be honest. But integrity is something I generally value in people and wanting to represent an artist while keeping in mind what their values are and fearlessly representing that.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you were ever given and what advice would you have wished for earlier on in your career?
"If you’re not on the edge, you’re taking up too much space”. Challenge yourself but also remember the things that got you interested in the art you do. Keep that top of mind every time you create, so you don’t just create for the sake of creating. Leave a piece of yourself in every frame.
What is your next big project or goal for your career?
My goal is to open a gallery promoting artists and creatives of colour and those using art as a form of mental well-being.
Is there anything in particular you'd like to accomplish?
Yes. I want to learn and grow. I want to constantly assume that I don’t know enough.