b;lack joy by Jade Rodgers March 1, 2022
Photographer Lisa Brown is a Black woman making work that feels and looks like film stills. Her work covers the African diaspora in an honest and beautiful way. The powerful images encapsulate the Black joy and are at times moments of reflection.
This Women’s History Month I want to recognize the powerful voices of Black women in photography. The emergence of black women in photography is not at all a new concept.
We know historically women and people of color have been left out of the major canon in this field. We can trace back time and again where BIPOC voices have been suppressed throughout multiple mediums.
There are many notable names that come to mind like Deborah Willis, Carrie Mae Weems, Zanele Muholi, Deana Lawson, and Polly Irungu.
Lisa Brown and her works have been recognized by the Pittsburgh Art Society, Black Is Magazine, and The National Museum of Women in the Arts.
She began her photographic journey taking classes at the National Children’s Museum in Washington, DC. Brown completed college and got an AS in African American film at CCBC, and a degree in the Arts from Prince Georges College.
After Brown graduated she dove into Africana Studies and the inspiration of these studies shows throughout her work. She is a bicoastal creative from Compton California, and Washington DC, a Getty Contributor, and a part of The Black Women Photographers collective.
Collectives like Black Women Photographers show us the importance of building a community amongst our fellow photographers.
Currently, the photographer Lisa Brown is someone I admire. Her willingness to take a chance on her dreams and is creating works is inspirational, to say the least.
These images speak to the experiences of Black women. Her work promotes the representation of Black people from the black perspective. She uses a careful and caring eye throughout her photographic work.
Her project titled Shadow Work shows images of a woman in a white dress in a field. These images are striking in the way that Brown has captured movement and the individual’s essence.
She talks about Shadow work and the importance of recognizing the subconscious work that must be done to better oneself.
Jade Rodgers: How did you get your start in photography?
Lisa Brown: My grandfather put me in a photography class in 1st grade. By 3rd grade, I learned to process film alone and did enlargements in the darkroom.
JR: You’ve been photographing on ﬁlm for some time. Can you talk about your relationship with ﬁlm?
“Film has this timeless presence and you can always go back to this tangible item.”Photographer Lisa Brown
LB: Subsequently, it has the ability to take you back in time. This reminds me of Sankofa. Which is a staple principle in my journey.
JR: You mentioned to me in a previous conversation that you’re a Getty contributor, how did that begin and what sorts of jobs do you have to do for them?
LB: I randomly applied to BWP and got accepted. As a result, I was offered an opportunity to be critiqued by a director there. Who fell in love quickly with my work and taught me how to pitch a story deck. I think if you want to see the change it has to start with yourself.
JR: Your work centers Blackness in a really beautiful way. Can you talk about your process and how you bring projects to life?
LB: While I learned some time ago from a professor at Towson, named Dr.Wright. Wright said to me“put your Black glasses on because you can’t take them off.” Being African from the diaspora is a beautiful movie. I thought, “Why not shoot a still?”
“I pray my images will make you want to see more of the emotions we go through daily.”– Photographer Lisa Brown
JR: Have you thought about entering into the NFT space? If so can you talk about some interest you might have or what you’d like to mint in the future?
LB: Yes, I’m in the production of my Polaroid book and there’re at least 5 shots that will be minted as NFTs through the platform Nifty Gateway soon.
JR: You grew up bicoastal. Can you talk about that experience and some of your influences growing up that played a role in your creative process?
LB: I grew up strangely loving Compton in my heart. My sister is Samoan and their culture is very different from my experiences living in the east. From their food to music it’s all very different.
I’ve had those hot fire hydrant days in DC and snowboarding on cardboard at Howard’s campus hills as a child. I was also able to have many muscle beach days and fly to the bay. It’s a polar life I’ve lived.
JR: How did you get involved with Black Women Photographers? How has that space helped you grow as a creative?
LB: Big shout out to Polly Irungu, she critiqued me at Women Photojournalists Of Washington (WPOW) and stayed in contact with me like no other.
I was in Nigeria sending her emails and she encouraged me to scout this and that. Honestly, endless thank you’s to the space she created to grow fruitful relationships.
“Even in my little film corner, I didn’t feel alone anymore.”– Photographer Lisa Brown
JR: It’s a new year so I’d love to talk about any upcoming shows or works you have and some goals you might have set for yourself moving into the new year?
LB: I have 9 shows this year, not including a solo in dc, a residency in Cali, and a show in Lagos Nigeria. My goal for 2022 is to hire a publicist and start working with an editor for my book. Honor an elder and accustom a professional mentor for my career. I’m very thankful for my photographer mentor Q in ATL.
LB: My project Shadow Work is a series about a close friend transiting in her life, a dark time but this too shall pass. The importance is to be present and perform your rituals and do the work on yourself.
This includes dancing, self-care of this body, sister circles, and devotion to your higher authority.
LB: The Big Pin Up is a series on owning your sex. To show vulnerability and the muse shows you what you’re allowed to see that is attractive.
“Brown women have not been seen or allowed to control their sex in these countries and not at all like other women of noncolor.”– Photographer Lisa Brown
Check out all of Lisa Brown’s work at Heal Her Photography here.