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I was asked to photograph @castersemenya800m for @outmagazine on a Thursday. A day and a half later I flew into Seattle with only an hour and a half to get from the airport to our location, scout the location, figure out my setups...and I only had an hour to shoot with her - for a cover story. Some shoots you’ll have a ton of preparation for - others you’ll only have a few hours. Some shoots will be 12 hours. Some will be one - or less. You have to be able to still yield results regardless of the amount of time you’re given. Part of that means accelerating your process of connecting with your subject and giving them clear direction that they can add their own creativity to. For a shoot like this, with a lot of moving parts and very little time - having a strong team is also essential. I notice that a lot of photographers don’t tag their teams or tap tag but don’t add credits. To me, that’s a bit disingenuous. I remember when I first started out, I thought some of my favorite photographers were making all these beautiful images on their own (mainly test images, but also some editorial),until I realized that they had full teams working on their shoots - but they were only tagging the model. I appreciate all of the work that my teams *especially my photo team* puts in so that I only have to focus on making the best work that I possibly can. Special thanks to @jdthecombo and @isanstudio for all of their consistent hard work with me over this wild year. // Editor in Chief: @pfpicardi 1st Assistant: @jdthecombo Digital Tech: @isanstudio Assistant: @eleanorpetry Stylist: @yashuasimmons Post Production: @hunnyretouch #outmagazine #castersemenya #danascruggs
Jonty Coco & Sister Margaret Caire standing in front of former slave quarters by Me for @nytimes. Last week I traveled to Grand Coteau, Louisiana on assignment for the @nytimes to photograph a Black man descended from slaves...and a nun who’s order owned his ancestors. Yes, nuns owned slaves. Yes, nuns bought slaves for their free labor. Yes, nuns accepted slaves as payment for tuition at the schools that they ran. Yes, nuns lied and said that they were teaching slaves to read and write when in actuality they were breaking up and selling off entire families in order to pay off their debts and/or keep their properties from going into foreclosure. This lie has been taken as truth for the past two centuries and helped perpetuate the idolization of white saviors in the abolitionist movement. Yes, nuns were also willing to take buyers to court if they didn’t receive payment for slaves that they’d sold. As the article by #RachelSwarns states, by 1820 ALL of the convents in America owned or had owned slaves AND the Jesuits were among the largest slaveholders in the country. I grew up with a lot of religion in my life. My Mother would take me to an evangelical church upwards of three times per week. Both of my grandparents are Catholic and I attended Catholic school from K-8th grade. As I’ve become more educated on the history of how Christianity was used as a tool for white slave masters to control my ancestors, to strip them of their identity and deeply rooted belief systems, and of course to beat colonialism and white supremacy into everyone who’s not white - I wish that more Black Christians would decide to question the origins of why they believe what they believe. No, I’m not an atheist and I still consider myself to be a quasi-Christian/Agnostic. There’s just so much rigidity, misogyny, homophobia, and anti-blackness within Black culture b/c we’ve leaned so heavily on Christianity - even though it’s the religion of the people who used to steal, beat, rape, and kill our ancestors and who used the Bible to justify our ancestors enslavement - yet Black people leaned even harder into the same belief system of our oppressor post-Emancipation. (continued in comments)
It was such a privilege and an honor to photograph @castersemenya800m for the cover of @outmagazine. It was one of the most inspiring moments that I’ve experienced in my life and I will always be grateful to @pfpicardi for the opportunity. The reality of Black women being denigrated for simply existing in white spaces, having medical procedures forced upon us, being experimented on, and our femininity questioned and denied when we’re winning at sports and in other professional fields where white women aren’t used to losing cannot be dismissed or spoken of in any way to protect white fragility or white feminism. What is happening to Caster Semenya is wrong...but, it also shows that nothing’s really changed. White supremacy and colonialism still reign - and Black women are still the ones bearing the brunt of it. 1st Assistant: @jdthecombo Digital Tech: @isanstudio Assistant: @eleanorpetry Stylist: @yashuasimmons Post Production: @hunnyretouch #outmagazine #castersemenya #danascruggs
I will be speaking @hudsonrivermuseum on a panel discussing Black Power in Art. THIS SUNDAY 7.14. Admission is $7. $5 for students. 2PM. See you there! @nyadhuor creating Art while being Black and Powerful...photographed & styled by Me. #mamiyarb67 #portra400 #ﬁlmisnotdead #nyadhourdeng #danascruggs
It was so nice to shoot with a model one-on-one again. Yeah, it can be nice to have a team, but for most of my career it was just me and the model creating work together. No hair/mua/stylists/editors/assistants/producers. There’s something special about creating work free of anyone else’s input or energy except yours and your subject. I miss that. @nyadhuor styled and photographed by Me. Also, shoutout to @chromat for letting us use your rooftop! #mamiyarb67 #fujifilm400 #ﬁlmisnotdead #nyadhourdeng #danascruggs
When one of your muses comes to town and you both spend 20 minutes taping seamless paper to a rooftop wall, only for it to immediately fall down...but you make it work. Super Talented @nyadhuor styled and photographed by Me. #mamiyarb67 #fujifilm400 #ﬁlmisnotdead #nyadhourdeng #danascruggs
I’m excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at Essence Fest in New Orleans on Friday! I’ll be a part of the panel “Image Makers: Black Female Photographers on the Rise”. I’m looking forward to bringing my experiences and perspective to this discussion and I’m grateful to @essence & @moanaluu for giving me the opportunity. Hope to see you there! Pictured is an outtake from my first assignment for Essence. The wonderful and inspiring Michaela Coel by Me. Photo Director: @traceysees Stylist: @meccajw Hair: @suhailahwali Makeup: @jessicasmalls Manicurist: @pipbuzzz 1st Assistant: @jdthecombo Digi Tech: @isanstudio Assistant: @itssetti #essencemagazine #essencefestival2019 #michaelacoel #danascruggs
Depending on the project, I’ll shoot a roll with my Mamiya and then re-shoot the same or similar shots with my digital camera for safety. Sometimes the film is stronger. Sometimes the digital is stronger. In this case, film won. P.S. I’m really proud at how level that horizon line is ✊🏾. @madisinrian shot on @cinestillfilm by Me. Assistants: @soft_when_ripe @breannanichelle Stylist: @meccajw Producer: @sarahkjelleren Art Director: @beckyabrown Style Assistant: @ryancgale Makeup: @tiffanyleighpatton Manicure: @nails_byely #mamiyarb67 #mediumformat #filmisnotdead #cinestill50d #madisinrian #danascruggs
I’ve been named one of @adweek’s Creative 100 - a list of 100 people who are making waves in their respective creative fields. It’s an honor to be included among a group of such talented people! I’m happy that I’m getting more recognition for my work, but I also want to use my platform to elevate other Black female photographers so that they get more opportunities, so that more Black women are getting recognition for their work, and so that more Black women are making it onto these lists. I want my followers to comment below and tag their favorite Black female photographer or tag yourself (including Trans, Queer, Gender Non-Conforming) and I want all the photo directors, creative directors, photo editors, and people in a position to hire that follow me (and those that don’t) to look through this list. If someone’s work and talent speaks to you - please reach out to them, ask them to come in for a portfolio review, give them an opportunity to move their career forward. It would mean a lot to me and to them! Thank you! Photo by: @erik_carter #danascruggs