Nadine Ijewere is the photographer who reframes the exclusive notions of beauty


In an ocular world saturated with images, visibility is powerful and who can be seen and how they are represented is a very alive and powerful problem. Everything is propaganda. In the words of curator and art critic Aindrea Emelife, “What we see is political. Taking up space is resistance.

As the first woman of color to spin a blanket for Vogue, Nadine Ijewere’s work amplifies the presence of her community. The London-born fashion photographer draws from her roots in Nigeria and Jamaica to create images that expand the narrow cultural repertoire of how society as a whole perceives beauty, reclaiming the power that comes with beauty and beauty. visibility.

Nadine Ijewere: Our own personalities, published by Prestel, is the new book showcasing the work of a photographer who constantly strives to raise collective consciousness. Deconstructing and dismantling persistent stereotypes of the fashion industry and reframe notions of beauty are concepts that run through all aspects of Ijewere’s creative process. The British photographer often uses non-models, distinctive personalities of the street casting beyond the industry’s exclusivity conventions.

Determined to take control of the narrative, Ijewere eschewed the idea of ​​climbing the ladder as an assistant photographer – the traditional trajectory – and instead decided that she didn’t want her focus to be misplaced or her style to intrude. on an established influence of the photographer. Instead, she chose to hone her skills in her spare time, taking photos of friends and gradually building up a portfolio of stunning portraits from which she began to be offered commercial work. This uncompromising approach resonates throughout her work. With an essay by Dazed Executive Editorial Director Lynette Nylander, Ourselves is a dazzling monograph celebrating diversity, nonconformity and multiplicity.

Take a look at the gallery above for a preview of some of the images from Ourselves. Below, we chat with Nadine Ijewere about exploring new angles on beauty, the power of photography, and the explosion of rigid stereotypes in the fashion industry.

Can you tell us about some of the dominant themes in your work?

Nadine Ijewere: My work celebrates my community and communities that are not often represented. I would like to say that my style is quite fluid, I always work by hand to be able to move freely with my subjects. I often try to capture natural movement and real emotion, I try to capture the personality of the subject. I love group shots the most because when the subjects bond and forget they’re filming, you can really capture the love and energy.

You’ve explored the genre very well, especially in projects like 9-ja_17 with Dazed editor-in-chief Ibrahim Kamara. In what ways have you observed changing attitudes towards gender in different parts of the world? And what are your hopes for the future of the genre?

Nadine Ijewere: Being a woman of color in any industry comes with challenges. We live in a world dominated by men, it is also a world dominated by white people. Navigating this world as a black woman is not easy. That said, women – women of color in particular – continue to grow. Even if you have to work five times harder, keep pushing. You can, but don’t be put off by disappointments along the way. The more of us who push through the better. Once through the door, one can only hope that it will eventually stay open.

It’s just as problematic and important in other genres. There are countless examples where women strive for the same recognition and reward as their male counterparts. There are countless examples where women of color struggle to achieve the same recognition and reward as their white counterparts. Hopes for the future … a level playing field, as I have said time and time again.

It is important to be able to dictate the story. This is another reason I hope more people of color embrace photography and film. For many years, imagery has been used to spread hatred and negativity, primarily against people of color. It is important for us to tell our own stories the way we want them to be told.

Capturing the true beauty of these people is important to me. If I am documenting people outside of my immediate community, it is important for me to have people from that community involved in the process. When I photograph people of color, I make sure they are captured in the best possible way. It is fundamental that I work with hair and makeup teams who understand and know how to work with dark hair and skin. There are still so many hairdressers and makeup artists who only know how to work with European features. The lighting has to be correct, there is a lot to consider. Most importantly, the message.

“It is important for us to tell our own stories the way we want them to be told” – Nadine Ijewere

Your images upset and dismantle so many harmful stereotypes. What fashion imagery in particular did you find the right way to express your ideas?

Nadine Ijewere: Photography is a powerful tool. For many years, imagery has been used to spread hatred and negativity, primarily against people of color. Capturing the true beauty of these people is important to me. Celebrate these people for who they are and invite the world to see the real us. When I think of young girls who see themselves in my work and feel happy, that’s why.

I find your images to be incredibly cheerful and convey optimism. Do you agree? And what brings you joy and hope?

Nadine Ijewere: I would like to believe that they are happy. Finding different ways to capture a person’s beauty is very appealing to me. I’m not too keen on close-ups, I like approaching my subjects from different angles all the time paying attention to how they look from those distorted perspectives. It’s a search for many different beautiful moments.

Nadine Ijewere: Our Own Shelves is published in a hardback edition by Prestel and is available now

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