arts and design

Black Women Photographers on the theme of ‘home’ – in pictures


Black Women Photographers was launched in July 2020 by Polly Irungu, coming out of a Covid-19 relief fund – (#BWPReliefFund) – which raised more than £10,000 to provide financial support to Black women and non-binary photographers during the pandemic.

Established to develop, encourage and promote inclusive hiring practices in the industry, the database – and website – highlights all Black women who elect to be submitted. Working through social conversations and workshops, the platform is empowering Black women to make the industry more diverse.

Black Women Photographers is a space where Black women can receive wider recognition for their work and, most importantly, get commissioned.

Esther’s niece: ‘I chose these portraits of my mum, nan and niece as a representation of what home means to me.’

Esther Sweeney

Home is where I can be naked both psychically and emotionally; it’s where I can strip bare to my innermost core. Home is a place of love and comfort that always welcomes me with open arms. Home for me means total acceptance. I don’t see home as a physical structure – home for me is where I am loved and accepted for who I am. It’s where I don’t have to put up any walls or barriers; it’s where I can be free. I have found home in my nuclear family. It doesn’t matter where we are, as long as we are together, it’s home for us.

Home is where I can be naked both psychically and emotionally; it’s where I can strip bare to my innermost core. Home is a place of love and comfort that always welcomes me with open arms. Home for me means total acceptance I don’t see home as a physical structure home for me is where I am loved and accepted for who I am, it’s where I don’t have to put up any walls or barriers, its where I can be free. I have found home in my nuclear family. It doesn’t matter where we are as long as we are together its home for us. I chose these portraits of my mum, Nan and niece as a representation of what home means to me because they are my safety, their hugs, love and total acceptance of who I am as a person is what makes me feel at home wherever we are.
I chose these portraits of my mum, Nan and niece as a representation of what home means to me

I chose these portraits of my mum, nan and niece as a representation of what home means to me because they are my safety: their hugs, love and total acceptance of who I am as a person is what makes me feel at home wherever we are.

A self-portrait of husband and wife at home. Before our daughter was born, we spent many days talking about how we would navigate the phase of being new parents.

Dola Posh

Before our daughter was born, we spent many days talking about how we would navigate the phase of being new parents. My husband said we have to remain kind to ourselves, regardless of what that journey might look like or be. We have to stay kind and give ourselves the grace to grow and learn being parents.

Our home dynamic has changed. We prioritise love and family above everything else; we also lean on each other every step of the way. We are teaching our daughter about life, our culture, and are seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

Parenthood is home; being a mother is home. We make the home. And it is a blessing we carry from day to day.

A self-portrait of the photographer making her daughter’s hair during lockdown.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we spent a lot of days indoors. We have not gotten the opportunity to visit family or welcome them. Finding balance, making memories and holding on to our Nigerian tradition feels like home and has been healing. Our mornings consist of bathing her, keeping her moisturised, making her hair and telling her old Nigerian tales. It is a joy to watch her react to those funny sounds and seeing her eyes light up. That is what home represents for us.

A self-portrait of a black mother breastfeeding her child, Monioluwa and Dola, during the lockdown in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.

Breastfeeding is one of the most challenging things for a mother. You are deprived of sleep and exhausted, but it is a joy to watch our daughter grow. Motherhood is the core of the home and celebrating her birth and the different stages of life/growth is what makes it all worth it.

Park Day. A young girl runs to her family during a park outing. At Joppa Preserve, they gather to barbecue.

Adriane McCray

My series is focused on Black life and freedom in Texas – a state that ended slavery two years after the rest of its country and one that today holds the greatest incarceration rates of Blacks – despite their small population. In the bedrock of what could be considered Trump’s America, The Lone Stars focuses on its most marginalised group: Black Americans.

Beautillion Practice. Several young men perfect their dance routines for the Beautillion Ball, a longstanding Texas tradition. Hosted by African-American community organization, Jack and Jill of America, these balls are celebrations of young men and women. Historically, they have been an esteemed introduction to society.

This series targets home life, adolescents at play and community. In various cities, I surveyed neglected neighbourhoods and recreational centres I frequented in my youth. Guided by my own recollections, I attended high-school athletic games and monitored after-school leisure for youths. I explored these spaces with a retrospective lens that built on my own understanding of life in communities where voices often are unheard and needs are unmet – as we saw with the statewide blackout following February’s snowstorm.

Date Day. A young couple treats themselves to baked sweets at one of few open stands at Red Bird Mall. The mall, located in South Dallas, is currently under renovation, after going through a series of name changes and closures.

It is common knowledge that there are government officials who fail to take responsibility for state healthcare, education, and housing systems that have largely failed these communities. However, the geographical design of Texas is heavily shaped by extreme sprawl. In a given moment, these folks do not physically confront their predicaments or face alternatives. They instead are confined to their own communities and forced to make do. What stands out most, then and now, is the ability for Black Texans to reckon with the present on the smallest scale.

Bandan Koro. Bandan Koro, an African drum and dance ensemble, teaches choreography to the community at Klyde Warren Park.

  • Bandan Koro, an African drum and dance ensemble, teaches choreography to the community at Klyde Warren Park.

In these moments captured, I found my subjects parallel to those previously captured by photographers I studied. (Martin, Butts, and Joseph – featured in the Texas African American Photography Archive. Wallace, Morse, and Hudnall Jr – featured in the Black Archives.) For these people, there’s a constant search for grounding and peace within the liberties they do have at their disposal. Where community exists, a zest for life can be found in abundance. Where there is open air or a stretch of grass, escapism becomes paradoxical. This series redefines the subjects as “The Lone Stars” in an effort to reclaim the token name of the state that neglects them. The images in this series shares their unique gift of mindfulness and illuminates the fleeting moments to be treasured.

A playful interlude between spoons of rice and stew

Mercy Haruna

A rare occurrence before the pandemic because of my husband’s tight schedule. No one loved having Daddy home more than my daughter because of moments of bonding like this.

A self-portrait of me styling my son’s hair. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are dedicated to preparing my children’s hair for the week.

Saturday and Sunday afternoons are dedicated to preparing my children’s hair for the week. I have many memories of my mother styling my hair like this. I wish I could see photos of those moments now, which is one of things that inspires me to document our lives and also make sure I get in the frame as much as possible.

These images are part of This is Home, an ongoing personal project documenting the daily life of my British-Nigerian family in and around our home in Kent since 2017.

Dr. Yvette Bonny

Karene Isabelle

I started a project back in 2018 wherein I was interviewing Haitian immigrants that had arrived in Canada in the 50s, 60s and 70s. I wanted to get a sense of how they dealt with identity issues and concepts around home with many having spent more time away than in their country of birth. Despite an attachment to their culture and a deep love for it, there is no doubt that these women consider themselves Canadian. This is where they came into their own, where they built their careers and raised children. Canada is home.

Dr. Yvette Bonny

Dr Yvette Bonny came to Canada from Haiti in 1962 to complete her medical studies where she had been the only woman in her class. She went on to become a paediatric haematologist and did the first-ever bone marrow transplant on a child in eastern Canada. She is also a recipient of the Order of Canada. One of the highest honours bestowed to a Canadian citizen.

Monique Argant

Monique Argant or Matante Momo came to Canada right before Papa Doc took over power in Haiti. She came to Quebec to study nursing. She stayed in a nunnery during her studies, made a wonderful Acadian friend, and never moved back. To this day, the friend she met during her studies is her best friend and they have in fact become family.

Monique Argant
Marlène Rateau

Marlène Rateau has been a teacher and a nurse. She studied nursing in Haiti and started working as a nurse once she settled in Canada. In 1983, when the Red Cross declared that haemophiliacs, homosexuals, heroin addicts and Haitians should not give blood as they were considered vectors of the newly discovered HIV virus, Marlène quickly began to organise in order to fight the stigmatisation of sick patients as well as provide them with support as best she could.

Marlène Rateau
Shadha, and her best friend, Cassandra

Ayesha Kazim

As someone who has spent most of my life moving around, settling in different countries for no more than a few months at a time, the concept of “home” has become less tied to the idea of a physical space or structure, and more to the people I am surrounded by.

Back in January, I captured these photographs of my sister, Shadha, and her best friend, Cassandra, in an attempt to visualise the way shifting notions of “home” can lead one to find comfort and refuge in other people. The bond shared between these two transcend any preconceived ideas of what it means to be family, as their chosen sisterhood and shared experiences have helped shape them into the intuitive, confident and caring individuals they are today.

My youngest sister, Jadesola, during a family trip to Paternoster, a small fishing village located on the West Coast of South Africa.

  • My youngest sister, Jadesola, during a family trip to Paternoster, a small fishing village located on the west coast of South Africa.

Despite our large age gap of 12 years (I am 21 and Jadie is 9), Jadesola and I share a close bond. I see a lot of myself in her, not only in our strikingly similar physical appearances but also in her approach to life. Her unwavering positivity and ability to find the good in every moment continues to inspire me daily as I am reminded of how fortunate I am to lead the life that I do.

My father during an impromptu shoot in our backyard at our home in Constantia, Cape Town, August 2020.

  • My father during an impromptu shoot in our back yard at our home in Constantia, Cape Town, August 2020.

As I struggled to find ways to remain creative during the first few months of the pandemic, I turned to documenting my family through intimate portraits that challenged me to work within my immediate surroundings, while also allowing me to uncover deeper layers to our relationships.

Despite working in the spotlight, my father has often shied away from my camera’s view. Photographing him in our home setting in a low-pressure environment was an attempt to put his mind at ease and what I think ultimately led to me creating some of my favourite portraits of him that truly capture who he is in his most real, natural state.

Self-portrait

Nelly Ating

In October 2020 I left my job, life, family and resemblance of stability to [move to] the UK. In a switch, I went from a citizen status to an immigrant. I was told my English was different. For the first time of my life, I recognised my place as a black woman. It will go down in history that I did not only survive a pandemic, I challenged my identity as a black, single immigrant.

While corporate world was over, my house became an office.

While the corporate world was over, my house became an office. A small table by my side, pillows as cushion and generator set to power my house. Social media became my escapism. I felt things deeply that weren’t even happening in Nigeria. Black Lives Matter crushed me. I badly need to detox but social media was also my office.

My life in one picture, there is a difference when you have lots of room and living in one room alone while the governement announces a lockdown.

You are fully aware of what you own and the sound of the walls you live in. You wake up very sure of where things and no voices but yours. It sets you on a path of solitude yet bordering sadness. This was my life in one picture, the beginning of an end to my corporate world and a shift to remote worker. I watched my clothes gather dust and had literally no where to go. The most important part of my identity to the corporate world stripped to bare hangers.

Eyitayo surfing the internet, laughing at a comedy skit, 15 July 2020, Ilorin, Nigeria.

Taiwo Ana

  • Eyitayo surfing the internet, laughing at a comedy skit, 15 July 2020, Ilorin, Nigeria.

Under one’s wings is a visual exploration of the importance of having a safe place in our everyday life. A safe place is where a person feels secured and so comfortable, an abode one can behave in any manner without feeling shy or embarrassed.

Eyitayo playing guitar in his room. July 14, 2020. Ilorin, Nigeria.

Humans today, especially youths go about working all day trying to make ends meet, socialise and participate in many other activities. In this project, I photographed Eyitayo, who happens to be a close friend of mine, showing his daily activities in his room and his environment. Eyitayo is a guitarist; he explores his creative ideas in his personal space. He feels so relaxed and connects more to himself in his space.

Eyitayo missing a loved one in his room. July 14, 2020. Ilorin, Nigeria.

This project was inspired by the curiosity to identify how youths cope with their psychological and medical health. Also, to know how youths cope when they are alone in their personal space. The importance of a personal space for a youth is so underrated. This project aims to make youths see the importance of having and utilising a personal space.

This photo was shot on medium format in October 2020 in Brooklyn, NY. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, recipes boomed online.

Eliana Carter

During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, recipes boomed online. People shared their sourdough, banana bread and more on social media. Food became a refuge from the uncertainty and fear that seemed ever-present. In the kitchen, I had focus and control. Whether it was baking bread, chopping garlic for an immune boost or sharing a meal with my roommates, the kitchen stood at the heart of the home, bringing us a sense of comfort and camaraderie.

October 2020, Brooklyn, NY

Shot on 35mm in October 2020 in Brooklyn, New York, this photo is a respite into the most banal moments of our home lives during one of the most tumultuous periods many of us have ever lived through. During this time, my focus turned inward, and the small things became big things as I attempted to cultivate a home life I could be content with. The glass is on the table. An X formation is created by a dark shadow. Around the table is more darkness. In elevating this moment, I view it as worthy of being seen, felt, and remembered.



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