Spotlight On: 6 Photographers Share What Black Lives Matter Means to Them
By EyeEm Team - 4 min read
We round-up our recent #EyeEmSpotlight series. Set up to provide a platform for incredible talent to share what the Black Lives Matter movement means to them, we share the work and commentaries of outstanding creatives from around the globe.
Our #EyeEmSpotlight series is about providing a platform for photographers to share their work and personal commentary. Set up by our team to encouraged creativity of the diverse community of our creators using our platform, for today’s Spotlight On feature six different photographers discuss the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Our team is committed to sharing more work by black photographers across our channels through our #EyeEmSpotlight series. If you’re a professional photographer or you know other creatives that have a projects then send us and overview to firstname.lastname@example.org
Julian Anim Aboagye
There have been a couple of times on set when I felt like expressing my innermost self. When I shoot on such days I create an awareness of who I am and where I come from. I’m human before my ethnicity or race - titles don’t define me.
I’m human and that’s not a title. Black, white, yellow, brown are titles and I’m not a title - I’m a human like you. Stop labelling me so I can breathe too.
As I’ve grown older and my understanding of the world, either good or bad has impacted me, photography has been a very strong pillar of certainty to which I hold on to. With it, I feel enabled to express my thoughts and emotions very candidly.
This craft has also without a doubt forced me to see a more profound perspective on the world and how we the people in it have evolved. If I’ve learned anything over the course of this journey, It’s that we as humans need each other and that basic act of dependency forms the very core of what it means being to be a human being.
Even photographs can’t be attained without the presence of multiple colours. The most basic form of imagery is “black and white”. Shadows are good but they mean nothing without highlights and vice versa. All we ever need is written right before our very eyes but still here we are. Look what we’ve done to ourselves.
Each colour and race has its beautiful identity and potential but a whole other level of prosperity is unlocked when they come together with respect, unity and the simple act of being nothing else but human.
It’s not beyond us to do better, be better. We’ve done it before - this world is evidence of that. Everything that is happening is proof that people actually believe in better, trust that if they say something, do something - then better will come. We aren’t as cynical as we seem - just tired.
It’s crazy that we’re still having this conversation, that there are people who still don’t understand. How can you look at the inequality of this world and think,”yep, this is appropriate - this is how it’s supposed to be.”
This is why storytelling is so important and why who tells the story matters. For the longest time, the people that wrote the history books, brought about the industrial revolution, and who ‘upgraded society’ are the same people whose channels were tuned into. But inclusion, diversity, and representation are not just words or boxes that need to be ticked.
My work is about awakening, about seeing myself, seeing my community, and seeing the God in my community. I want to replace the stories of lack, hate, weakness with ones of love, resilience, complexity, wonder, whimsicality, healing, wholeness, abundance…the stories I could’ve seen more of growing up. It’s my way of saying, ‘I see it, I see the magic in us - and not this doesn’t take away from anyone else.’ It’s acknowledging out loud that we’re allowed to love being black, we’re allowed to dream, and we’re supposed to feel proud of skin…
History happens in the present, we can’t change history - we can change our now.
As a black photographer, I truly focus on creating images that inspires other individuals, especially black individuals, to feel confident in themselves. Just letting them know that they’re beautiful in a blissful way. My talent is a gift and I want to give it back every chance I get.
As an African European, and like so many other children of immigrant parents, I am culturally mixed whether I like it or not. We have what our parents leave us; traditional values, customs, and our history of our mother land. On the other hand, our adopted country gives us a new perception of what we are and what we can be in a new world.
We don’t live out what our parents or our grandparents have experienced, we have many more opportunities and a broader vision. Today we have something that we did not have - the internet.
It’s a small power that everyone can have in their hand and a greater power when we are all connected together. It gives us the power to be informed, to defend ideas, values, and recognize the diversity within our society.
It also exposes things that we couldn’t see few years ago. We are all human depsite the moral differences within our society, but when we can all connect - this is art. Whether it be in music, in paintings, in photography, in dance, or even in a debate, in these precise moments we feel connected.
Whether it is consciously or unconsciously, the possibilities for exchange are endless.
When we go to a concert we come together, we dance, we sing, we laugh. When we go to an art exhibition we like to exchange ideas on what we see or what we might feel, we connect with new communities. We all know that art is a precious factor in the history of our society. Without it we would not be where we are.
When I take photos, I am very different from what I am in everyday life. With art I escape and find real moments when I can allow myself to say that I am flourishing. I have never done it out of interest or obligation, I do it because I like it and what it brings me and no matter where it leads me.
I think that any artist who creates knows that feeling of joy or a certain accomplishment when they see his work come to life. This freedom of expression gave me another form of maturity and it made me sensitive towards new causes and values aswell as taught me to be curious about people who are different from me. In 2020, the little bit of power that we have from the internet, allows us to export to all borders in real-time. It’s through this that we realize that we have much more in common than we thought despite living thousands of miles apart.
Whether it’s a one shot or a long-term career, I’m glad to see that all artists in this world have the chance to express themselves. For my part, it took me a long time to really realize what was my place in this society and that is why I would never stop expression myself artistically. I know what I am and who I want to be - me.
William Kane Olwit
Familiar Faces and Strangers in Masks
This project is called Masks and it’s about exploring the narratives and the masks that we wear in our lives to try and get by. It’s more so relevant in light of current events. Black people have for so long had to adapt masks to conform to a society that’s often unwelcoming.
At work, social interactions, school, the hospital, with your friends, with parents and family; you have this completely different persona or narrative that these people know about you that helps you cope and adapt. Sometimes we get lost in that narrative, becoming someone that you are not or someone you think you are because you have been telling yourself this for a long time.
It’s about the duality or the multiplicity of our life or lives that we are often forced to live.
Strangers in Paris:
This series was completed over the summer of 2019, during which I photographed a number of people of colour living in Paris. As a stranger myself, I was taking portraits of other strangers. Both of us there in Paris, perhaps by coerced or voluntary movements, away from home.
If you have images of the actions and initiatives taken place in your local neighbourhood in support of the Black Lives Matter movement then upload your photos with the tag #BlackLivesMatter now.