Happy Black History Month! The rich history of black photographers around the world is a lineage that is carried by each of these talented visual artists. According to Data USA, in the United States, the second most common ethnicity of photographers is black, accounting for 8% of the industry, while white photographers account for 79%.

There are many reasons why it is important for black photographers to continue to do the work they do. Black representation in the media by black artists assists in the work that needs to be done to end painful stereotypes and portrayals of black people around the world. While big strides have been made in the past decade by black creators, there is still a long way to go. Last year, internationally renowned and legendary model Naomi Campbell reported that Campbell Addy was the first black photographer to shoot her in her thirty-plus year career. Tyler Mitchell made history in 2018 as the first black photographer to shoot the cover of American Vogue with Beyonce gracing the front.

We see black creators passed over and not considered for big commercial opportunities far too often. So, to celebrate Black History Month at 500px, we are featuring some incredible black photographers on our platform.

From beginners to experts who have been working in the field for many years, here are the stories of twelve amazing black photographers.

Adeolu Osibodu

Why did you become a photographer?

Being a photographer felt like the safest route in self-expression. You can create whatever you’re obsessed with. I love to save things, and photography is like collecting. Holding on to times, emotions, thoughts, and places.

Apostrophe by Adeolu Osibodu on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

This photograph titled “Apostrophe” is a self-portrait. I love to think of time and how it creates versions of ourselves. I like to wonder what it would feel like to meet a present or past version of yourself. It’s hard to see the point in all of this, but maybe this is another hopeless attempt not to face the savagery of time. (Fun fact: if you turn this image upside down, you can see how it was created.)

What is the best part about being a photographer?

Everything about being a photographer is the best part. It’s like traveling with your home. I guess an interesting and primary part of the craft is that you get to purge your thoughts in the most tangible way. Without that, I can’t imagine how I would feel. I always feel like this is a gift, and I have to be grateful for it. Every minute I get to create something, I do it with a sense of thankfulness because, for that fragment of time, I believe, with no doubt, that I am happy.

Brianna R

Why did you become a photographer?

I initially started photography because I wanted to pursue a career in journalism. In the middle of getting my degree, I started doing street photography and thought, “Hey, this feels right. This is clicking”. As an introvert, I’ve always wanted to connect with people but didn’t have the means to, which led me to take portraits. I feel like being a photographer allows me to have my voice heard through imagery.

 by Brianna R on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

This is a photo of Just John, a rapper from the city. Since this was for his album/EP, I wanted to go for something that was natural, but still reflected his style and personality. Playful, but grungy.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

Honestly, I would say being able to connect and meet so many amazing people, and being able to connect with my Caribbean heritage in new ways through my photography.

Chaz Langley

Why did you become a photographer?

I became a photographer to make an impact visually through storytelling. My background is in music, as a singer-songwriter, but the music industry lost its heart along the way. That’s when my heart fell in love with photography almost 10 years ago.

Saying Goodbye by Chaz Langley on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

The story behind this photo is a deep one due to how I know this gentleman, David. He lost his wife a couple of years ago and now wants to find his purpose. We were invited to a vintage subway event in NYC. When we arrived, there were people dressed in authentic vintage clothing, dancing to a live swing band. It was like the Roaring ‘20s. There was a vintage, and working, subway that people were taking photos of. I had an idea to photograph him with a woman who had an amazing look. Suddenly a rush of nostalgia came over me to create a scene with them where he was saying goodbye to her. The deeper meaning was him saying goodbye to his wife.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

The best part of being a photographer is the ability to make someone happy with the click of my shutter. I also love the idea of creating art on-the-go with my street photography by capturing never-to-be-seen-again moments.

Desiree Thomas

Why did you become a photographer?

Photography was definitely something that chose me. Ever since I was young, I’ve always been obsessed with taking photos and capturing the moments associated with each one. It was almost as though I feared forgetting a moment in the future, and that was my way of remembering it. Choosing to become a photographer was almost a given regardless of how many times I tried to ignore it.

Parallels - Desiree Thomas by Desiree Thomas on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

This photo was a collaboration between very strong creatives. We wanted to create an image that was minimalistic yet bold and powerful. We wanted to showcase the beauty of her skin and strong features without the image being clustered. We wanted to captivate the viewers but only give them enough so they would want to know so much more.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

Taking someone’s thoughts and ideas and bringing them to life. To be able to see the expressions of your muses once the final images are complete and capturing moments that would otherwise just be a slight memory.

Houcine Ncib

Why did you become a photographer?

I became a photographer because this world is full of untold details, and I wanted to tell the great story behind every wonderful detail around us.

Web Man by Houcine Ncib on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

“Web Man” is one of my most favorite photos. It hides a deep story of a man suffering from inequality, but still laughing and fighting regardless of all those obstacles around him.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

The best part behind being a photographer is not only sharing artistic conceptions with others, but getting inspired and collaborating with other artists around the world to make this art well-known and more discovered.

Jason Hampden

Why did you become a photographer?

Losing my mom to cancer in 2014 was the catalyst for me becoming a photographer. I didn’t truly understand the value of time and fleeting moments with loved ones until she passed away. Having memories of my mom both in print and in my mind and heart keeps her memory alive forever. I was pursuing a technical degree at the time and wasn’t passionate about it at all, but you quickly realize that life is too short to pursue things that don’t bring you meaning or purpose. Whether I’m capturing true authentic connections in weddings through wedding photography, or more personal connections in commercial work through commercial photography, I’m grateful to be able to mesh storytelling and connections to life for others, to last a lifetime.

Diverse Couple Walking in the City by Jason Hampden on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

Even though building consistent clientele is a great thing, it can be very overwhelming when you’re not creating freely. I wanted to spend some time with friends who were so in love with one another, and not worry about the specific details. We found ourselves roaming the city and came across this location behind a local business. The elements were perfect that day. It was towards the end of summer, the sun was about to set and there was no care in the world except a young couple in love, which surpasses any “perfect condition” you could ever ask for. That’s what speaks in the image—truly understanding that love and life are gifts that we often take for granted. Not because we purposely do, but it’s so easy to lose sight of what’s real and what’s always in front of us.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

I can never answer that question with just one aspect to sum it up. It’s definitely a culmination of sorts. The exploration, wander, and wonder of telling a story and building a connection with who you’re photographing and the viewers is extremely important to me. Being true to yourself and others has always stood out to me, and I strongly believe in showing that in every available light.

Jodianne Beckford

Why did you become a photographer?

I became a photographer at a time where I was and felt lost as a person. I had no identity, and was struggling to find out what that was. I always say that photography found me, and I allowed myself to be open to the endless possibilities. Looking back, I don’t even recognize the person I was before photography. Photography changed my life in every aspect. I became a photographer to find my purpose, and instead, I found myself.

Up North Naturals Campaign for Target USA by Jodianne Beckford on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

This photo is so special to me. It is actually my most recent work, I had the opportunity to shoot a campaign for a black-owned Canadian natural hair company. When they reached out to me, I was so happy because I already use their products, and their branding aligns so much with what I already do. The two girls in the photo were not professional models, they are two young girls that are currently in high school. And it’s so special to see the connection they had, even with just meeting each other for the first time.

For this particular shot, I asked them to just chat with one another while, at the same time, fixing one another’s hair. That was so special because it’s something as black women we share so deeply with one another. It’s so personal and intimate, and a connection that is indescribable.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

I love that I have the privilege to meet so many amazing people from all walks of life. I feel blessed and humbled by everyone that allows me to capture them.

Junior Asiama

Why did you become a photographer?

I became a photographer because of my visual love for beauty, situations, and moments of nature. I love creating and capturing moments for art.

Grey fox by Junior Asiama on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

That picture is a young lawyer who is also a fashionista. That specific shot shows how she rocks fashion outside of chambers.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

The best part about being a photographer is realizing my content is reaching a large number of people who give a marvelous reaction as feedback, and getting paid well for my work.

Kevin Williams

Why did you become a photographer?

I became a photographer because I fell in love with taking photographs, mainly portraits of my people (black). I see such beauty in the raw lifestyles of black people that sometimes get ignored or stereotyped by others who are not familiar with the culture.

ProlificKid® by ProlificKid on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

There is really no story behind it. I thought of this pose for the model, and she executed it perfectly. We were just shooting around in a photo studio for a couple of hours, and this photo happened to draw the most attention.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

The best part about being a photographer is being able to freeze time and tell two stories at once, yours and the captured subject.

Lamarr Golding

Why did you become a photographer?

Photography started off for me as a fun hobby, capturing photos of weekends out doing parkour with my friends in London, as well as spontaneous moments that would grab my attention along the way. The more I brought out my camera, it gradually turned into a way of expressing my vision and love for films, which heavily inspired the way I composed some of my photos. I love how cinematography is used to tell a story, and I wanted to explore ways of incorporating that aspect into my photography. This was another huge drive for me to carry on.

Photography keeps me sharp and ready, and it’s also opened my eyes to my surroundings and things going on around me, which is essential for capturing spontaneous moments while keeping them as well-timed as I can—it’s a fun challenge for me!

For me, it’s a passion for purely capturing moments that end up having crazy backstories from my adventures from either doing parkour and urban exploration in many different places with my friends to the amazing talents and celebrities I come across through freelancing.

Marie Mouroum | ADIDAS X MARVEL by LAMARR GOLDING on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

This shot was taken with Marie Mouroum, a stuntwoman from Germany who I met at The North Face Mountain Festival a couple of years back. She’s known for previously being featured in the films Black Panther and Avengers Endgame for her role as one of the Wakandan guards, as well as stunt doubling in many other films.

She was in the UK for some time to work on-set for a film at the time and asked me to shoot a brand deal that she had with Adidas in collaboration with Marvel.

This was taken outside of an office block on a balcony near London Bridge, which not only had a lot to work with like the reflections from windows for lighting and the different shadows based on the changing daylight, but also for modern architecture, which was great for providing the kind of minimal backdrop we were aiming for. The shoes were bright red, and I really wanted a background that subtly added to the action and highlighted my subject.

We explored the area looking for architecture that could not only show off the shoes, but also compliment her martial-art-inspired movements. I love shooting movement, as it’s always a fun challenge for me to focus in the right place, and thought it would be great to feature a move that can sum up her ability in one photo. Needless to say, the results were awesome after a few takes and variations of striking acrobatic poses.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

It’s hard to narrow it down to just one! The best part has got to be the people you come across through photography—from amazing artists and incredible photographers to music artists and leading global brands that aim to raise the bar and be daring.

Through collaborations with others in the photography community throughout the years, I’ve collectively learned nifty techniques, gained new perspectives of my surroundings, and learned to focus more on the details, especially in architecture, which has been highly essential to my work and lifestyle as a photographer today. It’s amazing what things you can create when you’re bouncing ideas off of each other.

Another thing is how broadly creative you can get with photography, there are so many things to experiment and play around with, which will help communicate and manifest ideas or concepts, however crazy it may be!

Segun-Kabir Sani

Why did you become a photographer?

I really can’t tell you why I chose to be a photographer other than the fact that I think it chose me. While growing up, I had a lot of friends who were into one creative thing or the other—drawing, music, painting, etc.—I’m guessing that’s what inspired my creative pursuit at that time.

I initially started out as a music producer, but that didn’t work out. It wasn’t until my third year of university, when I had saved up some money from my last summer job, and I was looking for a hobby to invest in that I decided to buy my first camera and began practicing my craft.

I practiced all through school and enrolled in a photography masterclass afterward, which sparked my quest to grow, learn, impact, and evolve into the Visual Artist I wanted to become.

TAE by Segun-Kabir Sani on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

For a while now, photography has become a medium for me to express myself, depending on how I feel. I took that picture at a particular time when I was trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

For me, it is being able to travel and see the world differently—see different places, experience different cultures, and meet different people. The world is too big to sit in one place, having the opportunity to travel and document these experiences is gold to me. Who are we without our memories?

Tope Adenola

Why did you become a photographer?

My love for photography emerged when I was working as a graphic designer eight years ago. I fell in love with the colors of nature and the process of working to bring all of this together as a whole.

Confidence by Tope Adenola on 500px.com

What is the story behind this photo?

It is a photograph that depicts confidence in who you are on the inside, and how it radiates outwardly—regardless of what you and others see on the epidermis.

What is the best part about being a photographer?

The ability to form a sentence with each frame (and watching it all come together).

Not on 500px yet? Sign up here to explore more impactful photography.

The post 500px celebrates 12 photographers for Black History Month appeared first on 500px.