Our second featured photographer in our ‘POC in the Industry’ series is UK fashion photographer Ronan McKenzie. She is most notably known for her features in i-D Magazine, Dazed and Confused and her ‘A Black Body’ exhibition, a collection of images aimed at changing negative stereotypes about black bodies. She’s shot with fashion designer Marques Almeida backstage for fashion week and their 2015 and 2016 campaigns.
In an interview for i-D, McKenzie’s talked about some of the inspiration behind her work for the ‘A Black Body’ exhibition saying, “I've always been interested in finding out more about my black culture and heritage. As I was getting more involved in fashion from a photographer's point of view, looking for models to shoot who are of ethnic minorities was becoming ridiculous. I found myself drafting emails to modelling agencies that said "I just want to shoot ethnic people" then not being sure if that's totally cool to say - knowing that if I said "I only want to shoot blonde, Scandi girls" - it would probably be fine. In my experience of looking for models, most London agencies have about 1-4 black girls, who either look white with brown skin or are the epitome of Africa - wide features, blacker than black skin and a shaved head - both of which are absolutely beautiful but there's just no in between. There are hardly any East African/Kenyan with Indian heritage girls, with natural hair.” McKenzie’s works uses everyday portraits of black people of varying genders, ages and stages in life to try to alter the ingrained stereotypes of black people.
Being the same age as this extraordinary photographer just goes to show that more black female photographers are making their voice heard about the issues we see in the industry. From lack of representation in modeling agencies to the lack of top women in the fashion photography game, this generation will be the one to change that. I’m ready to be a part of it.
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