As LGBTQIA+ people, we deserve to be represented and affirmed in the media. When the media won’t represent us as we know we deserve, we must represent and affirm ourselves. As South African activist and artist Zanele Muholi said, “If I wait for someone else to validate my existence, it will mean that I’m shortchanging myself.”
Following queer media was a crucial step for me as I grew into my queerness and began to feel seen and affirmed. Especially as a photographer myself, seeing queer photographers excel at their craft has pushed me to work on my own. Here are 5 queer photographers you should be following.
1. Alexis Hunley
Alexis is a Black queer portrait photographer and visual storyteller based in Los Angeles. Most recently, she has been documenting Black Lives Matters protests, importantly speaking about the need for white folks to decenter themselves and follow Black leadership.
Another project “Lovers or Friends?” sheds light on our need for human touch and physical contact. She wrote, “As a queer Black woman, I have found that the LGBTQ+ community has consistently been a model for intimacy that extends beyond what our society has deemed as “normal.” Love is love – and we choose to love and support each other in spaces where others may be unable to love us as we are. We all need a reminder that our needs for touch and intimate connections are normal.”
2. Naima Green
Naima Green is an artist and educator who lives between Brooklyn, NY and Mexico City, Mexico. She holds an MFA in Photography from ICP–Bard, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA from Barnard College. Her works are featured nationally in galleries and museums.
Her most recent project, Pur·suit, is a deck of 54 playing cards featuring photographs of queer womxn, trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people.
3. Sami Lane
Links ⋒ @samilaneco
I know about Sami through her wife, Brit Barron, a Black queer pastor I follow who recently released a book. Sami documents their beautiful life and travels together through her Instagram – including their recent move to Austin, Texas.
4. Amber Montalvo
I know Amber from attending the same undergrad institution. She holds a B.A. in Educational Studies, and she is also the Founder of Love Me Natural, a project that advocates for the acceptance of and respect for Black hair culture.
Amber is one of my favorite digital storytellers. She perfectly blends visuals with important dialogue. She is currently abroad in Italy, and I am living through her photography.
5. Zanele Muholi
I first learned about South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi from her series “Faces and Phases” (2006-2016). She photographed black and white portraits of Black lesbian and transgender people from South Africa and beyond. More recently, she has been producing self-portraits.