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.

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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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.

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.

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...???

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:

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.

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.

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?

Before you go off on a rant, answer this: Did I say it should be balanced? If you're not curious about whether the imbalance exists or, if it does, the reasons for it, I invite you to simply move on to the next article.

Rant ? You posed a question and i answered, you might not like the answer but that is beside the point.

You seem to forget you responded to my post and asked a question, if you can't muster the courage to engage in a civil discussion just say so, don't use excuses just because you did not like the answer.

You also seem incapable of answering my questions yet you pose new ones...

I told you precisely why I don't care about the color of people's skin, to this point you haven't told me jack other than to move on to the next article... which is all but contributing to the discussion.

Wow, lotsa hostility over...what, exactly? Seems some folks around here simply don't want the topic to be discussed or even noted.

Jacques Cornell Hostility? What exactly in my responses towards you do you find hostile? The fact I share my opinion and answered your question?

Our definition of hostility is obviously planets apart.

The fact is you are the one who does not want to engage and discuss the subject matter, the only thing you have said is that you're "curious" and find it "interesting", and then tell people to move on once we actually get to why some of us reason and think as we do.

Kind of childish behavior and certainly not in the spirit of discussing the topic.

So instead of the passive-aggressive attitude trying to tell rest that we do not want to discuss the topic, try to actually engage and answer some questions your self instead of posing new ones.

OK, I get it. You wish the whole subject of disproportionately low representation of women and minorities in the photography profession would just go away, and you resent anyone bringing it up, which is why you react with knee-jerk hostility to an article which does nothing more than observe that the phenomenon exists. I don't know why that might be. Nobody is threatening to stop you from being a photographer in an effort to impose statistical balance.

You're not even close to getting it, the fact that you can't come up with anything else than your strawman arguments and passive-aggressive attitude is proof of that.

But to spell it out once again for you. I do not care about people's skin color or race, not in my profession or any other profession period. Why?

Because I do not see the need for balance or representation as I do not put a value on skin color or race. Period. Unless you put a value on race/skin color representation is irrelevant.

That does not mean I wish it to go away, I could not care less as it's not a problem in my eyes, to begin with. What I do wish is that people who claim race/skin color should not matter would stop bringing it up all the time and demand balance and representation based on the very thing they say they are against. Judging people by their race/skin color.

So no you still haven't got it.

Paul, I note your complaints that I haven't responded to everything you've said. You've not yet responded to this first post of mine.

You mean the one where you use semantics and try to pass the ball to me yet again? Since you "never said it needed to be balanced".. right..

So let me answer this then and you can answer my questions, fair enough right?

No, you did not say it needs to be balanced, but you literally brought it up and unless you feel it needs to change why even bring it up?

Regardless if you said it or not, are you incapable of sharing your opinion on it?

So now I expect you to answer my questions, thank you.

If you think it is the models that choose photographers for their magazine assignments, you obviously have no clue how the industry works.

"... and black people historically aren't aquatics...". Arguments like this belong to the dumbest of their kind.

Is anybody here proposing shutting down photography due to profiling and racism?
The question of why representation in the profession is so unbalanced is a complex one, and I don't see that reducing it to a simplistic dichotomy between "Nothing to see here" and "Cut off the racists heads" is either useful or interesting.

Living in one of the most diverse places on earth is conducive to looking beyond simplistic "us vs. them" explanations for differences. Living in a tiny little bubble in a frothing sea of variety just isn't a comfortable way to live.

"Different people want to do different things."
And, sometimes people don't want to do things where opportunities are not made equally available to them. Not saying that's the case here, but the possibility is at least worth consideration.

Edited to keep the conversation on track

Well, I prefer white men who do not care about race or skin color, maybe you prefer white men who judge your person and performance based on your race/skin color ?

Please don't assume what I "prefer". I think some white men (like me) are not affected/concerned by the lack of diversity because we are the majority in the photo business, clients, agency folks, photographers, directors, crew, etc. so maybe we don't see it as a issue, it is just how it is... I noticed that the LA market is more of a diverse reflection of the community than the Detroit market was.

So who is the white guy you are referring to in your first post? Dennis Williams ? Regardless of who you are referring to aren't you making assumptions as well?

Not to anyone specifically but I guess I did assume, and I will edit previous my comment now.

So what? Who cares?

If you're a part of the minority group then you do care. If you're not, you should also care but ignorance is bliss right?

I'm part of a minority group in my country, I couldn't care less what the color of your skin are. I do not treat people differently based on their skin color, nor do I expect people to treat me based on it either.

Good for you but it is about representation.

Good for me... yeah, I guess it's good not play the victim and use the color of my skin as an excuse for everything.

As for representation, representation of what? Color/race?

Either. Each. Both. We are talking about under representation of those in minority groups. I get what you're saying, Paul and that is fine but it is beside the point of the article.

So if you do not judge people by color/race why do you need colored people to be represented to the same extent as white people?

Should white people be represented equally in other professions that are mainly inhabited by people of color?

Unless you attach a value on the color/race it really doesn't matter.

What matters is the person and their work nothing else. If you can't live by that standard you can't expect anyone else to live by it.

The point of the article? The article ended with a question so not sure what the point was rather than to put the article out there for people to discuss and reflect on.

Spot on, Paul.
Not enough white people in basketball and football. No Muslims in the White House, no gays in carpenting, no women in crab fishing, no transgenders in schools. I can go on and on. Why people still bring up the differences is beyond my understanding but yeah let’s keep it up.

I think in her industry, she had the power of helping promote who ever she wants to for a loooong time.

The fact that is something to talk about is scary.

I've long wondered why the vast majority of professional photographers in the U.S. are white males. I mean, I know it appeals to certain personality types, and, like certain sports, it requires access to resources that aren't publicly available. Still, it strikes me as odd. That said, many of the high school students in my "pre-college" photography classes have been girls and non-whites. So, maybe things are changing. I wonder if those kids will go on to become pros in numbers that will help balance the profession.

Why are most engineers male? People are constantly promoting engineering to women, and yes, it is having some effect (one of my daughters is studying engineering for instance), but still engineering is male dominated. In terms of ethnicity, a lot of engineering is probably over represented by those of Indian and Asian descent (many not yet or becoming US citizens).

Yeah, why? It's interesting, and I doubt anyone around here actually knows the answer. Some folks sure don't want to find out, though, and would prefer that nobody even notice.

Has she not worked with Matthew Jordan Smith?

I don't think they've actually worked together before which is interesting. I guess he wouldn't be considered mainstream fashion, but more so in beauty/makeup anyhow.

Him and all the photographers over those years shooting for black publications like Ebony and Essence.

Let's make an issue where clearly there isn't one. Typical of our times.

Could it be that many times she was not actually in charge of hiring the photographer? Probably.

Or maybe it's because she developed a relationship with certain individuals and felt comfortable working with them REGARDLESS OF THEIR SKIN COLOR, ETHNICITY, RELIGION AND SUCH?


But hey, that would not make a story with waves of tweeter let's make a big deal out of nothing.

I cannot express just how much I value the strongly held views of privileged white men...

Given that you do not know me you may be forgiven for not realising I do not care one bit about what is "appropriate".

That the best you have?

Let's see, the US was founded upon slavery. After slavery was abolished we had segragation; instituional racisim with regards to housing via the instrument of lending instititions; African-Americans are still grotesquely under represented in your government and in business; they are still incarcerated at disproportionately high levels, etc.

Then there's the part where your President was elected on an openly racist platform.

You are utterly delusional.

You're the one declaring you are deeply knowledgebase about the rest of tge world whilst being demonstrably ignorant about your own nation.

"Let's see, the US was founded upon slavery. After slavery was abolished we had segragation; instituional racisim with regards to housing via the instrument of lending instititions; African-Americans are still grotesquely under represented in your government and in business; they are still incarcerated at disproportionately high levels, etc.

Then there's the part where your Presisent was elected on an openly racist platform."

Wow, you should be on CNN!

Your rebuttal is as non-existent as the other guy.


“Privileged white male“ when you know nothing about the author or anyone posting here. By that context that automatically makes you a privileged white male, it must hurt to be that stupid. Sure, you use big words to try and showcase your intellect, but all you are is a whiny beta, stick to your island and don’t concern yourself with what America does.

Keep listening to that mindless brainwashing you’re receiving, it just shows how weak willed and easily manipulated you are.

I am a priviledged white male.

Interestingly, I write technical reports for a living; I don't need to "try".

Your comment says more about you than me.

Try again, try harder.

Well I’m glad that you admit it, that you’re content with self loathing.

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