We know many amazing portrait photographers. And a number of you reading this may wonder why only a roundup of the best black portrait photographers are being done. Aside from our year-long commitment to showcasing work from photographers in minority communities, it is Black History Month. So it’s only fair to showcase the work of some groundbreakers weve spoken to from the black community. Here are some of the Best Black Portrait Photographers we’ve interviewed over the years.
Creating emotion by taking the mundane and transforming it to surreal portraits is what Obafemi Matti specializes in. He’s become an expert in creating unique portraits in everyday spaces of the streets and alleys of Philadelphia.
Better known in the Instagram community as Underground_nyc NY based Aaron Pegg uses the city’s subways to create his portraits. He began doing portraits to find cool ways of showcasing the personalities of new people he met.
One of the recent entries into Adobe’s Rising Stars program, Kreshonna Keane focuses her camera on people marginalized due to their appearance. She says her photography style has been heavily influenced by fashion/editorial photography and portraiture. Diversity and inclusion are common themes in her portraits.
Chemistry and great direction help people to feel more confident!Kreshonna Keane
Some photographers might feel intimated while photographing celebrity portraits. Courtney Coles however, treats them like old friends. “By doing so, it helps me relax and enter a space of knowing what I have to do in order to get the photographs I want. If I walked into the room panicking, that x-musician is So! Famous! it will throw me off,” she explains.
Portrait photography involves a lot of love, according to former US Army Sergeant and California based photographer Lester Cannon. He professes to fall “in love with every person that looks back at me in the viewfinder” while taking portraits.
There’s often a single, eye-catching beam of light in the portraits by Adeolu Osibodu. I found myself closely observing this image during our interview, trying to understand the thought porcess behind it. Putting thoughts into images without words is exactly why he got into photography.
It was important for Jamiya to connect with his subjects while working on his 100 Faces project. But also key was to not dillydally and take too long to capture a portrait. He explains why in his interview with us.
A bonafide legend in the American photography community, Jamel Shabazz has spent close to five decades as a professional photographer. Read about how the pandemic made him more active in photography in our recent interview with him. But also read our earlier interviews with him for fascinating stories of his career.
The idea of taking self portraits came to Chinelle as a way of boosting her self esteem. But it also turned into a way for her to learn posing and lighting. Check out her series of portraits where she wears plant-based foods, paying homage to her family’s plant-based lifestyle.
The ambition to evolve and expand burns brightly within Barbara. Despite being a professional portrait photographer for over two decades, she still desires to learn new things. See the work that won her a regional Fujifilm GFX Challenge Grant not so long ago.
We are all born storytellers whether we actively recognize it or not.Barbara Minishi
When I recently interviewed Jaimie, I was profoundly impressed by the way in which she attempts to learn more about her subjects before taking their portraits. That approach allows her to connect with them and bring out their soul in resulting images. She spent over a decade taking portraits of everyday black men and has released the book, The Gifted Project.
All images are used with permission and are copyrighted by the respective photographers. The lead image is by Adeolu Osibodu.