Fotografiska Empowers Black Photographers: 4 Keys For The New Gen
We partnered with Photodom to celebrate Black photographers at 281 Park Avenue, at Fotografiska. What is Fotografiska? It is a museum destination to discover world-class photography, eclectic programming, elevated dining, and surprising new perspectives.
They Did It First paid homage to Black photographers who are pioneering the industry.
We brought out the best of the best. Old and new school Black photographers share their knowledge with other aspiring photographers. This panel was moderated by Polaroid PV from In The Neighborhood.
Old School Black photographers, T. Eric Monroe, and Keith Major pass on their wisdom and experiences in the industry. The pictures they showcased took you back in time not too long ago, using techniques still used today.
These great creatives made a name for themselves, pushing through obstacles and adapting to the changing environment.
Our panel of Black photographers at Fotografiska inspired every photographers
New school Black photographers Kreshnonna Keane, Wulf Bradley, and Flo Ngala shared how photography hit the ground running. In an ever-growing environment, these creatives from the new school set themselves apart in their unique way.
Flo Ngala for Finally Focused
Here are four essential lessons we can take away from our panel of photographers.
1. Getting to Fotografiska and finding your style…
Black Photographers, or just about anyone who creates visual art, walks a fine line between reality and imagination.
Our new school Black photographers added a few personalities to their shots, creating a customized style. Creative photographers add their twist to let the world know that the image they take is there. The panel discussion at Fotografiska showed that anyone can take a picture, but to create art is different.
In the panel, new school Black photographer Kreshonna Keane introduces her photo series Project Princess, setting the tone for all her works ahead. For this photo series, she created a juxtaposition between her subjects and environment.
Her subject, a breathtaking princess, interacts in a basketball court environment. This simple and yet compelling contrast is precisely what makes Keane’s art unique.
2. Value your art as a Black photographer
Many photographers, especially Black photographers, struggle with putting value in their work. It’s crucial to establish and understand your importance as a creative early as possible. This was a topic of discussion during the Fotografiska panel.
Old school Black photographer T. Eric Monroe mentions his value growth. As he started out shooting skateboarders, he received more requests. He taught us how your value as a creative will grow with each shoot you do.
To fully value your work, Keane said it takes confidence. This is important with many Black photographers who experience a sense of doubt in their work. Imposter syndrome plagues many creatives to make them think they’re not good enough. However, in this case, the takeaway is the first step in valuing your art is to stand behind it.
As an artist, you have to know your value, and you have to stand on it, say it with your chest. If you don’t believe it, no one else will– Kreshonna Keane, They Did It First at Fotografiska
3. Black photographers keep it genuine
I saw something in her that was a reflection of me, and I took the shot– Wulf Bradley, They Did It First at Fotografiska
Our panel of great Black Photographers is to keep their work genuine. What makes a genuine photograph is when the photographer puts a bit of themselves into the picture. Photographers tell stories without words. Similar to Keane’s, Project Princess. Bradley Wulf shares a bit of his perspective with his model.
There’s a story to tell behind every image.
Before photography, Wulf Bradley worked an office job that he felt was not serving him. Last year Bradley photographed Zazie Olivia Beetz for SoHo House.
In this shoot, Zazie is shown walking across a conference table against Bradley’s former corporate job.
“This photo was probably after I said something really stupid, and she smiled, and as the smile was going away, I took the shot,” said Bradley.
“It seemed natural; it didn’t seem like a forced thing.”– Wulf Bradley, They Did It First at Fotografiska
4. The real world impacts Black photographers
Our Fotografiska panelist’s heaviest lesson was that Black photographers document Black history every day.
Every photo taken by a Black photographer is documentation of Black History. The murder of George Floyd impacted Black photographers. As protests and rallies were being held all over the U.S, many Black photographers felt a call to document what was going on.
This allowed many to navigate their emotions to what was going on.
As a creative of color, as a woman, it was really important to speak to how I felt in these moments– Flo Ngala, They Did It First Panel at Fotografiska
To be a photographer is to be in the moment. However, photography can be used to escape a moment. For many, a traumatic incident such as George Floyd’s murder can push you forward or back.
A month after September 11, pioneer photographer Keith Major photographed Lauryn Hill. Many new photographers, were not around or couldn’t fully grasp the impact of 9/11.
Every loud noise that we used to ignore became important right after 9/11– Keith Major, They Did It First Panel at Fotografiska
Major boarded a plane to Miami despite the trauma and photographed Lauryn Hill. Keith displayed the ability to surpass the trauma that many felt to document Black history.
History is being made every day.
Thank you to all the photographers that came through Flo Ngala, Keith Major, Wulf Bradley, Polaroid PV, Kreshonna Keane, and T. Dot Eric.