Naomi Campbell's Recent Cover Is Shockingly Her First Ever Mainstream Fashion Shoot With Black Photographer

Naomi Campbell's Recent Cover Is Shockingly Her First Ever Mainstream Fashion Shoot With Black Photographer

Thirty three and a half years as one of the most successful models on the planet and Naomi Campbell has only just completed a mainstream fashion shoot with a black photographer for the first time.

Few names come to mind quicker than Naomi Campbell's when you think of supermodels. Both Campbell and Kate Moss have been titans in the industry for decades and remain relevant and important today. With such an expansive career, you can't imagine there's much Campbell hasn't seen in the fashion world, least of all a shoot with a black photographer. However, Campbell's recent shoot for British publication The Guardian in their "Weekend" magazine was just that, teaming up with photographer Campbell Addy.

Campbell writes "It’s my first time in thirty three and a half years, shooting with a black photographer in mainstream fashion." I had to double take reading that the first time. I'm aware of imbalances in professional photography and here on Fstoppers it has been discussed many times, but I don't think I quite appreciate the disparity in representation of different ethnicities. Fashion as an industry has been called out on this regularly this century, with a lack of diversity in almost all facets of the profession. I just hadn't considered how prevalent that imbalance might be in photography too. Upon sharing the image, Addy wrote:

It’s a very surreal moment after the longest flight of my life and to see this be shared with you all. Firstly to have shot the icon that’s Ms Naomi and two for her to reveal that it’s the first time in over THREE decades that she’s been photographed by another black person in mainstrean[sic] fashion... let that sink in people... I am very blessed to be alive and working today, so thank you to everyone that’s made my existence possible. Here’s to many more shoots together 

Is the lack of diversity in photography something you have noticed? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Lead image by Christopher Macsurak via Wikimedia used under Creative Commons.

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Tony Clark's picture

About damn time.

LA M's picture

Incredibly insensitive and uninformed comment.

g coll's picture

An extremely naive comment.

g coll's picture

This: "it's up to each individual to promote themselves and their interests"

How can you possibly argue that those from the minority group haven't equally promoted themselves and their interests? It's highly unlikely. Come on.

Also one doesn't need to conspire to be racist or sexist, etc.

g coll's picture

I see what you're saying and am well aware you do have to bust your butt a heck of a lot more than the privileged white man (me). I am all for working damn hard to get ahead but cant we all at least have the chance to run from the start line and not 50 feet back?

In my view it should be called out when given the chance. In this example with Naomi Campbell it's just one way to draw attention which can only be a good thing. So I agree with the headline - it is a shocking.

Alex Herbert's picture

You can't and that is in no way the point

Motti Bembaron's picture

Well said!

tyler h's picture

my first question is what is and isn't "mainstream fashion shoot". when I think "mainstream fashion" I think of Vogue, harper's Bazaar and the like, a very small nitch. then, I could say, yes, I can believe it.

Matt Williams's picture

"Is the lack of diversity in photography something you have noticed?"

Well, hell yes. Particularly when it comes to racial diversity, but certainly gender too. Both are problems.

Travis Pinney's picture

Why? You cant force certain genders or races into a creative industry if they don't like it or want to do it.

Hypothetically Lets say the creative makeup is 95% males to 5% females, 80% Caucasian to 20% everyone else. What do you think the odds will be that there will be an African American Female at a professional level. (I know it's a Male in the article)

The same can be said for any industry, the demographic with the higher interest group is going to have the highest percentage of professionals in the field.

I'm not speaking on discrimination because I know it's rampant still to this day but OVERALL the percentages are always going to shift in favor of the group that engages in it the most.

Matt Williams's picture

Are you seriously saying that an incredibly famous model encountering ONE black photographer in three decades of a career is simply due to odds and math? Your assumption is based on the false premise that very few black people want to be photographers. There's literally no evidence to that whatsoever.

There is, however, staggering evidence of discrimination and racism in every corner of this country.

Travis Pinney's picture

Yes that is exactly what I'm saying. The talent pool is WAY less likely to have a black photographer in it just out of sheer numbers. I also did state the discrimination is still rampant in this country in a lot of ways but, the powers that be, that select the photographers for a shoot have a much higher likelihood of using a white photographer than a black one.

My assumption is based on the fact that Black people still make up a minority of people in this country, that you're more likely to encounter a white photographer than a black one just based on demographics. 1 in 9 people is likely to be black, that gap increases exponentially when you start to throw in lifestyle choices and career path.

An incredibly famous model like her, with the success she's had, if she really gave a shit, could have chosen a black photographer at any moment later in her career.

Alex Herbert's picture

It's about more than the end opportunity which is presented. What about all the 'breaks' and opportunities which more 'privileged' people get throughout their lives? You can't say things like 'Well, no black people applied for this neurosurgery role, I guess no black people are interested in neurosurgery'. What about the lack of encouragement, and hard and soft barriers which have been present throughout every step of their entire life?

Travis Pinney's picture

Look man I get it, minority groups have a much harder time achieving "greatness" because there are large numbers of people in this world that still believe in holding people back. Animalistic tendencies to segregate and ostracize groups of people that don't look like them or think like them are ridiculous, especially in the modern world, though in a lot of ways it's human nature and we are sophisticated animals at the end of the day (no I'm not justifying horrible behavior).

There are many facets to the argument of privilege, a few people should not dictate the outcome of everyone. Born rich? Born poor? Have family support? Foster? Adopted? It'll continue to be a never ending argument. As a whole we have a lot of growing up to do but if WE continue to let certain people drive the narrative and divide us we'll continue to look at each-other with disdain, because "that person is more successful than I and hasn't gone through the same struggles as I and it's much harder for me to achieve success."

With everything together, looking at just sheer numbers alone, the challenge grows for minorities, and yes it is much harder to stand out because they're overshadowed by the larger group involved. There will always be in imbalance, unless a larger portion of that minority group becomes the majority.

Noah Stephens's picture

You are willfully naive.

David Pavlich's picture

The whole 'diversity for diversity's sake' is wearing thin. I shot an engineering group event the other evening and one of the speakers main topics was to get more women involved in their group. First you have to ask, why aren't there more women in the group? If it's because they haven't been allowed, it's very, very bad.

However, an educated guess tells me that there's a LOT less women pursuing a career as engineers.

How about the NFL? There's a LOT more black running backs than there are white and why is that? It's very simple...there are way more black athletes that make good running backs than there are white. So, what do the NFL teams do? They do their best to get the best at the position to allow their team to achieve the best outcome. That's what makes sense to me.

When choosing to fill a position, you choose the best that you can find and afford if you want the best outcome.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Very true. Women are also underrepresented in deep sea crab fishing and brick laying. I’m seriously tired of seeing white men doing it.

Mark Wyatt's picture

I guess it's not the 1940s any more- when men were men and and women photographers.

Matt Williams's picture

I don't know the context of this photo (can't find it online), but it is absolutely true that women struggled to be taken seriously as photographers until about the 60s. There are, of course, a few exceptions.

Most commercial female photographers during and before that period of time were married to successful male photographers. It was considered very strange if a single woman tried to start a photography business or work commercially.

You can deny it all you like, but there have literally been books written about this very subject.

Mark Wyatt's picture

This is a Fremont High School Photography Vocational program in the 1940s run by C.A. Bach. My dad attended the course. If you see the overall class, there were certainly more men, but there were a reasonable number of women also. This program produced some Life and Sports Illustrated photographers over the years (I think 1920s-1950s timeframe).

If you want to bring ethnicity into it, it was largely Caucasian, with possibly some Hispanics (hard to tell from B&W pictures).

Matt Williams's picture

So your photo to show that many women were photographers in the olden days is.... a picture.... of a high school class...

What's actually amusing about this is it really speaks to something else: that high school was (most likely) roughly 50/50 male/female. And you say, in the overall class, there were more men but a lot of women.

So a lot of high school girls were interested in photography.

Yet hardly any women of that time period became photographers.

Does that not... say something to you?

P.S. you really shouldn't present a photo of a class of high schoolers without noting that these are not professional photographers. The girls in this photo are not "photographers" in the sense we are discussing. They are students of a photography class.

Mark Wyatt's picture

I have another which shows a whole group (not sure if the current year with the girls, or the whole program), but it is 10 girls to 27 total (and in those days there were two genders, so I don't need to do any more math). They were photographers. True they were learning, but they were sent out into the streets and onto sports fields, around school, around town and captured images. I have a portfolio from my dad and he has some amazing photographs of and around Los Angeles in the 1940s, all shot on 4x5 sheet film or 120 (2 1/4 x 3 1/4) roll film on his Speed Graphic. There is no requirement that you need to earn money with photography to be called a photographer.

The girls could have gotten married early and started a family. We don't know how many may have opened up or worked in studios, shot weddings, did freelance work, etc. Probably few if any of them went off to Europe to shoot battles, covered professional sports, or worked for Life magazine. But this was a vocational program, not a photography class, so the intent was a career in photography. My dad went into the Airforce during the Korean war, but stayed stateside and was a camera repairman working with aerial cameras. He got the GI bill, went to college and became a high school teacher, eventually starting and running photography programs, the yearbook and school newspaper.

Matt Williams's picture

Yes, you do need to earn money with photography to be a *professional* photographer.

The point is - the topic was women in the PROFESSION of photography during that time. You posted a photo of a group of high school students taking a class.

That's like posting a photo of a chemistry class and saying "look how many women were chemists!"

And yes, we don't know how many married early and became housewives or went on to be professional photographers. That's exactly my point as to why that photo is an example of absolutely nothing - other than that women existed at the time.

Mark Wyatt's picture

I would only point out the fact that this was a "vocational" program does invalidate your point ("that photo is an example of absolutely nothing"). It does show that women were interested in photography, trained vocationally to be photographers (implying intended to make money with photography), and actually owned photographic equipment of professional caliber (the program required the students to purchase equipment to participate- my dad had to come up with around $1000 for a Speed Graphic outfit) at least in the 1940s. I do agree that being called a professional photographer implies you need to make money. That is not what you said initially regardless of context. Please keep cool. This is a friendly conversation, not an argument. I thought the photograph was relevant to the overall comments.

Benoit .'s picture

Considering that almost all fashion publications have female editors, this is a very good question.

Matt Williams's picture

Yup. The only genres where I see a decent amount of female photographers are weddings, boudoir, and portraits. I feel like that's because men find it much more acceptable and "proper" for a woman to do that type of photography because that stuff, especially weddings, are more "feminine" anyway.

But commercial fashion? Photojournalism? Women are not often behind the camera there.

Matt Williams's picture

No, I'm saying they are coerced into not doing other genres. "Coerced" carrying the weight of many words there - shunned, not encouraged, harassed, etc.

John Dawson's picture

Pardon me, but why does it matter how much melanin is in the photographer's skin?

David Apeji's picture

Nothing to do with melanin. Everything to do with representation. But then you have the luxury of not knowing or caring about things that don't impact you directly.

John Dawson's picture

I also consider things beyond emotion like:

- What is the percentage of black professional fashion photographers generally?
- Of those, how many have attempted to work on projects with which she's involved?
- Of those, how many declined the work?
- How much control does the model have over selecting the photographer(s)?

Myron Edwards's picture

Preach Brother Preach

Paul Lindqvist's picture

It doesn't, well at least it shouldn't. For any person to be recognized for their skin color rather than their work should be considered an insult.

Robert Nurse's picture

That's a very good question! Why does it matter how much melanin is in anyone skin? That's a question that 400 years (400th anniversary this year) of American history still hasn't answered.

Matt Williams's picture

"I would argue, and successfully so, the reasons for African slaves in early America had NOTHING to do with the color of their skin."

You and I have super different definitions of "successfully."

Please, tell me about the history of genocide and enslavement of white people in America. I'll wait.

Matt Williams's picture

We didn't enslave Native Americans because we fucking murdered them. That's the genocide I'm talking about. If you think European diseases are what decimated Native Americans, well, I'll point you to numerous wars and massacres, the Trail of Tears, etc. Not to mention, those European diseases were used by settlers as biological warfare.

Matt Williams's picture

" For Lemkin, genocide was broadly defined and included all attempts to destroy a specific ethnic group, whether strictly physical through mass killings, or cultural or psychological through oppression and destruction of indigenous ways of life."

Robert Nurse's picture

Really??? So, what you're saying is that race played no role in their status as slaves? None whatsoever? I think you should go back and dust off that history book and take another look

"Please, tell me about the history of genocide and enslavement of white people in America. I'll wait."

You mean, you don't know? Enslavement? Yes. But, their circumstances as slaves was far and away different to that of their African counterparts and it changed when they began siding with Africans in the same situation. The elite land owners then began throwing crumbs their way and the status of "Whiteness" was born. The rest, as they say, was history. Genocide of white people in the colonies is something I've never heard of and if it occurred who would have been doing the killing? Aboriginals? Africans? I'll wait.

Robert Nurse's picture

I'll end my involvement in this debate here. Whether Ms Campbell's not working with photographers of color was an explicit bias on her part or on the part of her handlers, I don't know. I would want to doubt it as it would make absolutely no sense artistically or economically. But, race bias doesn't make sense on its face. Yet, it exists nonetheless and seems to matters a great deal to someone and it always has in America. The original question: Why should melanin matter?

Matt Williams's picture

Hey man, think there was a misunderstanding. Of course race played a role. I was quoting Travis.

And I said 'Please tell me about the genocide and enslavement of white people in America" because... it never happened. That was my point - that those things happened specifically because of their race.

Matt Williams's picture

So you actually see nothing wrong with the fact that this is the FIRST BLACK PHOTOGRAPHER IN THIRTY DAMN YEARS that she's worked with? That doesn't strike you as... odd? Like maybe they are... underrepresented?

I guaran-goddamn-tee if the situation were reversed and someone said "this is the first white photographer I've worked with in three decades" y'all would lose your shit and talk about how white people are being oppressed.

Rick Nash's picture

Thirty years as a successful mainstream fashion model is a long time. Don't fashion models have any say in who their photographer is for their own portfolios?

Travis Pinney's picture

Why hasn't she said anything before? Like "hey wait, where are all the black photographers? This is so odd that its all white dudes!"

I guaran-goddamn-tee if it were her first white photographer, the vast majority of people would go, "oh cool" and move the fuck on.

We continue to let the minority be the loudest voice, "OPPRESSION!!!!" when the majority of people do not give one flying fuck about this and look at the content of the person rather than the color of their skin, honestly.

Matt Williams's picture

Yep. The majority of people don't care. I agree with you about that.

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

It may sound counterintuitive but I think those who notice these sort of things are actually trying to divide people. Maybe unwillingly but still. Why would that matter? We’re all people, why notice color, gender, sexual orientation, religion. It would never stop. Now it’s the first black fashion photographer, later it’s gonna be the first gay fashion photographer, then the first transgender, the first black transgender, the first Muslim, the first Muslim transgender. We could go on and on trying to notice how someone is different. Why?

Jacques Cornell's picture

I think representation in the industry really is unbalanced, and making that observation is not necessarily "trying to divide people".

Denys Polishchuk's picture


Paul Lindqvist's picture

So what!? I couldn't care less what skin color the photographer has, nor should anyone else.

David Apeji's picture

The arrogance to suggest that you could tell anyone else what they should care about.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Yeah, I mean the paradox of people who claim to be antiracist but then go on and obsess over skin color. But if you want to judge people by their color of their skin, be my guest, your not the first or the last. Cheerios!

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