A photo by Yasmin Yassin, one of 10 Black women photographers you should be following
Photo by Yasmin Yassin

When criticized for a lack of diversity in their creative departments, some media companies have erroneously claimed it is hard to find and hire Black artists. The Black Women Photographers collective was founded to combat this idea and “disrupt the notion that it is difficult to discover and commission Black creatives.”

In collaboration with BWP, we’ve compiled a list of 10 Black women photographers you should be following in 2022. The creatives featured below are all active on Instagram, and following them is a small, easy way to show support for an up-and-coming artist.

With the objective of highlighting and amplifying Black women creatives that haven’t yet received widespread attention, we’ve deliberately selected artists with less than 10,000 followers. However, as the images below show, the photographers we’ve featured are incredibly talented, and destined for great things in 2022 and beyond.

Tiffany J Sutton

Tiffany J Sutton (@tiffanyjoy1955) is an award-winning photographer, artist, and art director based in St. Louis, Missouri. Earlier this year, she was announced as one of fourteen recipients of a grant distributed by Black Women Photographers and Nikon.

Sutton exclusively photographs Black women, and her abstract portraits explore themes of selfhood and dual perception. Shooting primarily with a Mamiya C330, Sutton uses multiple exposures to explore the complexity of her subjects and challenge the limitations and stereotypes placed on Black women.

Sutton plans to use the Black Women Photographers grant to expand the scope and trajectory of her work. In a recent profile by NPR, she discusses her plans to travel to Iceland to continue her projects, Black Landscape and Black Body Radiation.

Temi Lawson

 

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Art director and photographer Temi Lawson (@temilawson) picked up her first film camera – a 35mm Pentax ME Super with a 50mm f/2.8 lens – just two years ago. However, you wouldn’t know it by perusing the mesmerizing, vividly colored portraits that make up her feed. Her work has the caliber you’d expect from a professional film photographer with decades of experience. 

Lawson’s work has been featured in numerous publications including Vogue, Texas Monthly, Forbes, and WIRED. Despite her fast-growing profile, the Dallas-based photographer also works as an art director for ad agency, Leo Burnett, and recently started her own YouTube channel.

On YouTube, Lawson promises to transparently share her journey as a self-taught film photographer. She recently published a great video comparing different types of black and white film stock. Follow her on YouTube and/or Instagram and you’re guaranteed to pick up some helpful tips and tricks. 

Vicky Thompson

Sacramento-based photographer Vicky Thompson (@photos.by.vicky) has a wonderful eye. Her breathtaking landscapes of northern California will feel like a breath of fresh air in your Instagram feed. 

Thompson shoots with a Canon 5D Mark IV. Her favorite lenses include the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM. However, she also uses a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM to get out of her comfort zone.

Thompson is particularly skilled at long exposure photography. She uses this technique to craft captivating photos of silky-smooth water, dazzling night skies, and bright city light trails. If your Instagram feed is starting to feel a little claustrophobic, follow Thompson for an inspiring dose of the great outdoors. 

Lit Liv Fortson

 

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A post shared by Lit Liv 🔥 (@lit_liv_1)

Olivia “Lit Liv” Fortson (@lit_liv_1) is a creative force to be reckoned with. Her stylish and evocative portraits transport you to new and exciting worlds; some look familiar, some feel wholly unique.

Fortson shoots on a Pentax 67 or a Mamiya RB67, and develops the film herself from her Harlem, New York apartment. In recent years, her unique style has caught the eye of the music industry. Past collaborators and clients include Apple Music, T-Pain, Lesthegenius, and Rolling Loud music festival. Additionally, her work has been seen in publications such as Culture Icon, Vogue Singapore, and WE THE URBAN.

We’re particularly fond of Fortson at Focus. That’s because, when she’s not busy shooting, Lit Liv works as a creative project manager in our very own marketing department. The vitality of her work reflects the positivity and high energy she brings with her everywhere. You won’t regret following this Focus favorite. 

Ornelle Chimi

 

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Ornelle Chimi (@ornelle.c) is a fashion and portrait photographer from Douala, Cameroon. Now based in the Washington, D.C. area, she first became interested in photography six years ago. Since then, Chimi has worked with companies including Google and Topshop, and her work has been featured in publications including Vogue Italia, Nylon, and New York Magazine. She was also one of the recipients of the Black Women Photographers grant announced earlier this year.

Chimi shoots with a Nikon D750, typically pairing it with a high-quality prime lens. Her favorites include the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED, Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED, and the Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD.

Chimi’s stylish portraits ooze prestige, so it’s no surprise she’s quickly garnering traction as a high-end fashion photographer. Following her on Instagram will inspire you to lift your photography game… And maybe dress a little nicer. 

Amanda J. Cain

 

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Amanda J. Cain (@amandajcain) is an immensely talented photographer and avid sports fan. As the team photographer for the San Jose Sharks, she regularly shares impressive action shots captured on location at the SAP Center, a.k.a. “The Shark Tank.”

However, Cain’s skills aren’t limited to shooting sports photography. She regularly shares stunning landscapes, intimate portraits, and in recent years, has delved into photojournalism. Shooting during the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter protests over the last few years, Cain developed a passion for “recording history as it happens.” 

Cain uses the Nikon Z6, D6, and D5 camera bodies when shooting for the Sharks. For personal projects, she tends to use the Canon R6, and is also looking forward to trying the new Sony flagship, the A1, later this year.

Yasmin Yassin

 

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Yasmin Yassin (@yazziz) is a Minneapolis-based photographer originally from Canada. She first became interested in photography while working as a researcher in Indigenous reservations along the west coast. Her background in research has helped her become an incredibly intuitive photographer. The work she shares on Instagram centers people of color, and provides an insightful and authentic depiction of life in the Midwest. 

Yassin is a big fan of Fujifilm, and typically shoots with an X-T4 or X100F. While she uses multiple lenses with the X-T4, her favorite is the Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR.  She’s worked with clients including Apple and Adobe, and her work has been featured in National Geographic, Minneapolis Monthly, and The Wall Street Journal.

With the eye of a documentarian, Yassin is a true visual storyteller. Combined with her masterful command of light and color, Yassin’s work is remarkably beautiful and evocative. Follow her on Instagram and you will fall in love with every image she shares.

Toni Shaw

Toni Shaw (@theshawphotographygroup) is a photographer and visual artist based in Greensboro, North Carolina. Through her company, Shaw Photography Group, she has developed a reputation for her outstanding portrait, dance, wedding, and maternity photography. Shaw’s talents were recently recognized when she was named as one of the recipients of the Black Women Photographers grant earlier this year. 

Shaw’s camera of choice is a Nikon D4. She prefers to pair it with either the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens or the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. Shaw is also a SpiderHolster ambassador, and strong advocate for their camera holster products. Additionally, she recommends the Godox AD200 Pro Pocket Flash for lighting on location. 

While running her own photography business, Shaw also takes the time to educate and inspire other photographers. She regularly teaches workshops and provides informative resources on her website and other channels. Follow Shaw on Instagram if you’re interested in learning from one of the best.

Kaci Merriwether-Hawkins

Kaci Merriwether-Hawkins (@kacimerriwetherhawkins) is a photographer and director from Columbia, South Carolina. She first fell in love with photography while studying at Tuskegee University, where she created “My Lens is Black” –  a collection of visuals “intended to champion and highlight the Black, southern experience.”

Merriwether-Hawkins shoots with a Sony a7 III, which she likes to pair with the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art lens. On her website, she describes her work as the images she wished she could have seen growing up, citing the persistent lack of representation for people of color in the media. She aims to transfer the confidence that exudes from her work to Black children around the world who are looking to see themselves reflected in the media they consume. 

Having worked with clients including Nordstrom and Beats by Dre, and featured in publications such as The Washington Post, Merriwether-Hawkins’ talent is undeniable; her mission, noble. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this incredible photographer.

Akilah Townsend

 

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Chicago-based photographer, director, and art director Akilah Townsend (@killls) is killing it. With a client list that includes Nike, Pepsi, and The New York Times, she is on her way to the top and showing no signs of slowing.

Last year, Townsend worked with the payment platform, Square, on “The Future is Built…” a global campaign to amply Black-owned businesses in cities including Chicago and Atlanta. Her characteristically warm portraits of three Black business owners in Chicago were a slam dunk. Plastered on billboards across the windy city, the photos looked incredible.

You’ll find plenty more visually stunning images on Townsend’s Instagram feed. She regularly shares the latest work she’s produced, from compelling album art for high profile musicians, to intimate, personal projects that are equally as powerful.

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The photographers featured above are incredibly talented, and we can’t wait to see what they achieve in 2022. Follow them – and @blackwomenphotographers – on Instagram to witness their inevitable ascension first-hand.

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