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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122 Comments

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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.

Dieter B's picture

In the real world people from all ages, backgrounds and interests have fallen in love with photography. This says more about the shallow and stuffy fashion cliques which Naomi has long been a part of.

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Genocide

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Indian_Wars

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_removal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Native_American_genocide

" 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".

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!

Jacques Cornell's picture

Don't you find the gender & race imbalance in the profession at all interesting? I do. Not pointing fingers anywhere, just interested. I suppose the first step in addressing the question would be to find out whether participation is, in fact, tilted. My impression, based on two decades of working with scores of pros in the NYC area, is that there are more women pros than you'd think from viewing online media, but that there really are very few African-American photographers in the industry.

Mike Yamin's picture

It's neither interesting nor surprising, because black people only make up 13% of the US population. So, putting everything else aside, there isn't even a mathematical reason to see more black photographers than you do. By the way, I get hired probably 95% of the time by women, so there goes the whole gender thing.

Jacques Cornell's picture

You're assuming that 13% of pro photographers are black. My experience is that the figure is much lower. As for "the whole gender thing", your point is...???

Mike Yamin's picture

I'm saying no more than 13% and your experience is purely anecdotal. There's no reason to assume that equal amounts of people from every race would choose, and therefore be represented, in any profession. This site says 9.7% of US photographers are black: https://datausa.io/profile/soc/photographers

My broader point about gender is that no one is keeping anyone "out" of this profession. It shouldn't be a surprise that things aren't perfectly equal, because men and women *generally* gravitate to different things in life.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Mike,
First, thanks for the link to statistical data. Very interesting and informative.
I haven't read every post here, but I don't think ANYONE here is suggesting that some people are keeping others out of this profession. Underrepresentation is not always a matter of active discrimination or hard structural barriers. Even if the differential is a result of "individual choice", choices are affected by opportunities and environmental conditions, and if people of a certain group feel that a particular professional environment or culture is unwelcoming, their choices may be reflective of outside forces and not simply the appeal of a particular activity. There's certainly lots of evidence that women "choose" not to enter certain professions because they are made to feel unwelcome and marginalized, and where efforts are made to rectify these issues, women choose to participate in greater numbers.
Also, 9.7% participation of African-Americans in the industry signifies a 25% underrepresentation compared to their 13% composition of the population. Women are underrepresented by 10% (i.e. with just 45% of photographers being women, there are 10% fewer women photographers than there would be if they were proportional to their share of the general population), so a 25% underrepresentation of African-Americans is quite a large gap. I also note that women photographers' wages are only 56% of men's. Further, it seems pretty obvious that women are disproportionately underrepresented in related media. Here I'll cite public reaction to a recent manufacturer's ad campaign which highlighted a panel of photographers who were ALL men.
I'm not making any judgement that these facts need to be changed. As you say, it may just be that, for whatever reasons, African-Americans or women aren't as interested in photography. But, their disproportionately low level of participation gives cause to wonder what influences are at play.

Paul Lindqvist's picture

Imbalance? So it needs to be balanced? For everything or just certain professions?

Should it be balanced regardless of the fact its a lot less colored people than white people to begin with in the states?

But you are correct I do not find the race/ethnic imbalance interesting at all.
Simply because I do not interact with other humans based on race or skin color, why?

Because I can't expect anyone else to treat me based on my merits as a human if I go around and think everything happens to me based on the color of my skin. I simply refuse to universally see white people as racist or people of color as my default brethren.

How many white people work in Indian restaurants in Europe?

How many Indian NHL players do you have? Or even players of color? Should the NHL draft based on color just to be balanced?

To what goal and at what cost should the workplace strive for “color balance” ?

Let me take an example. This is a true story.

A production company here in Sweden was looking to hire a new film editor, a person that had previous experience and was confident in their role as a film editor. They put up a post on their facebook page and got several replies.

One of them stood out though.

It was from an Afro-Swedish woman, who had no previous experience in film editing or even in the business. Her argument why they should hire her was simply to diversify the color of their staff. This was no joke but a serious argument as to why they should hire her. In fact, she put in such wording that they needed to hire her since they had no person of color on staff.

Should they hire her?

Do they owe her something just because of the color of her skin?

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