Time Magazine Shines the Spotlight on 12 African-American Photographers You Should Follow Right Now

Time Magazine Shines the Spotlight on 12 African-American Photographers You Should Follow Right Now

In honor of Black History Month, Time Magazine has decided to honor 12 up-and-coming African-American artists. Hailing from across the country and across the creative spectrum, these artists put the word "diversity" into focus.

Getting noticed for an artist, any artist, is difficult. Building a career, any career, when you come from a minority group can present unique challenges. Put those two obstacles together? Well, you get the picture.

But as a former boss of mine at IBM used to say, they aren’t “problems,” they are “opportunities.” Opportunities to strive for success. Opportunities to develop unique skill sets. Opportunities to speak with an authentic voice and speak to an experience not shared by many of those around you.

Time Magazine has convened a panel of experts from major artists such as Carrie Mae Weems to curators such as Azu Nwagbogu and educators like John Edwin Mason, and offered them the opportunity to shed a light on 12 up-and-coming photographers of color who they feel should be on all of our radars.

Spanning everything from fine art to fashion, these artist may share skin color, but the stories they have to tell are as diverse as the worlds they inhabit.

Shamayim (opening photograph) is a New York City-based fashion photographer who presents the world and his bevy of diverse high fashion models oftentimes in stark black and white from dynamic angles.

Joshua Rashaad McFadden’s portraits explore the concept of identity. His images challenge us not to look beneath the surface to understand the deeper story behind the face.

"From Come to Selfhood" of Jamel Jones, left, and his father, James Jones. Courtesy of Joshua Rashaad McFadden.

Michael McCoy, a combat veteran, first picked up a camera as a way to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. His documentary images aid in forming a bridge of communication between his community and the world at large.

Gerald Cyrus, a Los Angeles native, made his name on the opposite coasts, portraying the vibrant nightlife of the New York City jazz scene.

"Lovers and Others, St. Nick's Pub, Harlem, 1995." Courtesy of Gerald Cyrus.

Endia Beal, a North Carolina-based portrait artist, deal with matters of identity. A number of her projects including "Can I Touch It?" and "Am I What You're Looking For?" deal with the transition of both black and female identity within the corporate environment.

David Alekhuogie is a Chicago-based photographer capturing fine art images of his immediate environment in new and unique ways.

For a complete list of the featured artist, check out the Time Magazine article.

Do you know any other artists who would make your own list? If so, add them in the comment section below and tell us a bit about what makes their work special.

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29 Comments

Leigh Miller's picture

LMAO...oh sweet Jesus.

Didn't we have something on here about this a couple of months back. I asked everyone to name a bunch of BLACK photographers who represented major photo "whatever" brands publicly...I think we came up with less than a handful. This was a nice article though...

Garrett Reid's picture

Why can't these photographers be honored just for the great work they do? Why does race have to play a role in whether they/their work has more or less value? They didn't have control over what race they were born but they did have control over their decisions that put them in this position to be recognized. That should be the story.

Chris Charles's picture

...says the white guy lol. I suppose there should be no Black History Month either based on your logic then, right? Maybe articles like this are important because some young photographer of color might need to see people who look like him doing phenomenal work perhaps?

No, there should be no black history month, just as there is no such thing as white history month!

Why would a young black photographer ****who isn't racist**** "need to see people who look like him" to be inspired?

These kinds of politically correct articles unknowingly encourage and perpetuate racism since they are obviously inherently racist. Just replace black and African-American with white and you'll see how obvious it is.

Chris Charles's picture

Perhaps in a perfect world, one day there would be no need for black history month or any other day of the year to recognize anyone other than white people in there respective disciplines and talents but that is not the case unfortunately. As someone of color who was once a very young artist of color, it was absolutely important for me and others like me to see people who actually looked like us represented in the discilplines we desired to go into. That's human nature. It motivates and inspires someone who might be discouraged. It comes from a history of being told we could not do things, go places or be who we wanted to be strictly based on race. Until you have lived that experience and have been systematically under represented I imagine it would be difficult to see things from this perspective. And for the record, by definition it is virtually impossible for a young black photographer to be racist, particularly in an industry that historically doesn't have a very large black photographer population. Sure I don't have the numbers to substantiate that but my eyes see what they see on a daily basis.

"It comes from a history of being told we could not do things, go places or be who we wanted to be strictly based on race"

This is the year 2017, not the pre-60s!!

"Until you have lived that experience and have been systematically under represented I imagine it would be difficult to see things from this perspective"

What perspective would that be? The perspective of someone that is racist and feels they should be represented because of skin color? You're right, it is difficult for me to see things that way.

Sorry to break it to you but for the most part the racism that black Americans like to complain about doesn't exist, despite what the race baiters, like Michelle Obama, her husband, and other racist black people like the so-called reverend Sharpton would have you believe. In fact, by far most of the racism I see in America today comes from black Americans directed at whites. Heck, Eddie Murphy noted that back in in the early 80s in his Delirious comedy routine.

Once again, this is the year 2017! We have had black people in the highest positions of public office and who have achieved the greatest business, scientific and creative success and yet black people like you still want to play the race card. Why?!

All that said, you are always going to have some people that are racist. One thing is for sure, you can't morally complain about and address racism while endorsing and practicing yourself.

I'm sure you're not going to want to hear this, but you black people are actually your worst enemy. By far!

Chris Jones's picture

Old comment but 100% this, in fact you Chris Charles are that to me, I saw your work on the 22slides front page and I've been following since then, seeing a black man who is not only doing what I want to do, but working with artist like Phonte shows a path that's available.

Hans Rosemond's picture

The problem with trying to draw a direct correlation between a "black history month" and a " white history month" is that it's apples and oranges. It's easy for there to be a "Scottish-American Month" or "Italian-American Month," or a "Polish-American Month." The problem with being black in America is that we cannot trace our roots past the mid-1800s. For most African-Americans there can be no "Kenyan-American Month" or "Congolese-American Month" because we simply do not know where we came from in Africa with any specificity.

Therefore, the only way we can have any pride in our own ethnicity is to grab on to the one thing that we know: Race. Race, although largely a construct of humanity and largely confused with ethnicity, is the one thing we have that binds us as far as a shared lineage.

So you can't compare "white history" to "black history" as they accomplish 2 different goals. One, black history, is to find commonality, solidarity, and a shared identity when it has been stripped away. The other is based purely on skin color, and has no roots in a shared background, culture, or ethnic group.

No, it is very easy and obvious to draw a correlation between a Black History month and a White History month since the only thing that matters for either is the color of a person's skin. Scottish-American Month" or "Italian-American Month, etc, are not based on skin color. Those are the nationalities of other countries.

Because some black people, for whatever strange reason, want to connect themselves to a culture or tribe in Africa so far removed from them and they can not is no excuse to resort to what are obviously racist labels.

Going back to things like Scottish-American Month" or "Italian-American Month, etc. Why would any American even do that?? As far as I know, no other nation across the world engages in that kind of silliness to the extent many Americans do. You'll hear some Americans say I'm Irish or Italian. No, you're not! You're American!

Your "shared identity" is American, and until black Americans start seeing themselves as simply American then they will continue to not only keep themselves down through self-segregation, but they will also continue to encourage and perpetuate racism whether they realize or not.

As I've said many times before, black people are their worst enemies, by far.

Hans Rosemond's picture

You seem determined to see this from an ethnocentric viewpoint, and that's fine. But the only way to bridge these gaps is to take a few steps towards empathy. If we sit on our own sides and cross our arms and refuse to take another world-view, then we can't make progress. That may sound hokey, but it's sound anthropological dogma. Your way of seeing is not shared with everyone in rest of the country, no matter how "right" or "logical" you may believe it to be. Race relations are not as simple as letting logic rule. Your conditioning is completely different from a lot of the population, but that doesn't make their world-view invalid.

Garrett Reid's picture

Yes, I am white. Not sure why that should matter or discredit my point. Wouldn't you rather your work be praised for its own merit than a part of you that you had no control over? I certainly don't like you seeking to discredit my comment based on my race. Race doesn't give moral superiority. Hey, if someone is inspired by these photographer's work that's awesome! Personally, I've never been MORE inspired by a white photographer's work than a black photographers work. Good work is good work no matter who it comes from.

However, I think I got us off topic with my original comment. I don't think there's anything wrong with Time only selecting black photographers here. It's just a way of selection. It's not like Time held a photo competition with both white and black photographers and then said that none of the whites could win because of their race. I guess I'm just disappointed that the distinction has to be made in the first place.

Chris Charles's picture

Indeed and my apology if I offended, however it becomes frustrating when time after time I see people have a problem with the recognition of an under represented population in any discpline. It becomes even more frustrating when the question of why this is even done in the first place is usually brought up by people who have not had to live the experience of not being represented as the majority in an industry. It's devisive and insulting and has nothing to do with moral superiority based on race, but more with simple recognition based on historical under representation. I agree, good work is good work, and good work comes out of all groups and shades, but yes, my personal experience and history are just as important as yours generally (as a white male) which is the majority in this indsutry. It is absolutely important to see artists whom I may not otherwise have heard of recognized to show that people of color, for those who exist (and they still do) who may not believe or think so, do important work as well. Human nature will always find a way to divide, and this very division is why things like black history month came into existance in a world that otherwise would not recognize talented people of color.

I understand your disappointment that the distinction has to be made, however imagine the disappointment of never seeing anyone look like you in an industry you would love to be a part of? That to me is more important in my opinion. Be well.

Anonymous's picture

Calling out black photographers, writers, scientists, etc.. is important but they should be accomplished first, aside from their race, and then highlighted for the reasons you suggest. Of course there's nothing wrong with encouraging advancement among any particular group but wait until they've "made it" to start handing out trophies.
Having said that, I'm not entirely sure that isn't what was done here.
Finally, Black History Month IS a good idea so long as the individuals who are called out really deserve it.

Is White History month a good idea?

Anonymous's picture

I think you're missing the point. Instead of comparing Black History month to a White History month, compare American History to World History. There's nothing wrong with taking pride in your nationality, religion, school or race.

Anonymous's picture

The trouble with this kind of communication is the absence of context. Writing something like, "Really?" doesn't help. Perhaps you could elaborate?

"I think you're missing the point. Instead of comparing Black History month to a White History month, compare American History to World History. There's nothing wrong with taking pride in your nationality, religion, school or race."

You're not making any sense. Why wouldn't I compare a White History month to a Black History month? They are exactly the same thing, a month praising a group of people based on race. You can not be for having one while dismissing the other. That is not logical.

Both American History and World History are obviously illogical comparisons since neither focus on race.

So, once again, are you also in favor of a White History month?

I know I'm not gonna not to get an answer yes or no from you because on the one hand you don't want to be seen as a white racist supremacist and on the other hand you think to denounce a Black History month would be insulting towards blacks. The first position is reasonable and logical, while the second is neither because it is based on political correctness. That second position is also encouraging and perpetuating racism since it is obviously and fundamentally racist.

Anonymous's picture

Actually, I don't give a rat's patootie about being seen as a racist. If people interpret my thoughts, words, and actions as racist, that's on them. And while I try not to insult anyone, I don't give anyone special consideration either.

The reason I was comparing it to US History vs World history is because US History is part of World history but a special subset relevant to, and a source of pride for, Americans. You could certainly have a "White History Month" but for all practical purposes, it would look the same as "History Month." A better comparison would be "Black History Month" vs "Italian History Month" or (my favorite) "Irish History Month."

"A better comparison would be "Black History Month" vs "Italian History Month" or (my favorite) "Irish History Month.""

That's a flawed comparison since skin color and nationality are two different things.

Anonymous's picture

I really hate to say this but, that makes absolutely no sense at all.

Are you kidding?? You can't distinguish the difference between skin color and nationality? Two obviously very different things.

Anonymous's picture

I don't see "Black History Month" as being about color. Clearly there's a visual difference but it's not necessarily color. I can just as easily see the difference between Italians and Irish or Japanese and Vietnamese.
The purpose is to give people a sense of pride in "their team." Again, it could be nationality, race, religion, well... anything!

Black is a color!

It is not racism to take pride in a nationality.

Anonymous's picture

How is taking pride in your race better or worse than taking pride in your nationality?

One is racism and the other is not.

Kolade Agunbiade's picture

Absolute BS!

Anonymous's picture

I really liked Shamayim and Joshua Rashaad McFaden's works.

Robin Browne's picture

This steps on diversity.