Ayesha Kazim Q&A
Ayesha Kazim talks photography with TheBlkGaze.
The Black gaze means taking ownership of the narrative and establishing a space for Black creatives to create and disseminate their own stories in anyway they so choose.
How does this relate to your photography practice?
As a Black female photographer, my experience and navigation of the Black gaze is coupled with my experiences as a woman working in the industry.
The stories I create aim to provide a source of inspiration and reflection not only for fellow Black artists, but also for women of colour who seek guidance and often lack representation within the photography world.
What do you want to say or address with your photography?
My creative practice has been cultivated by my international background, having grown up between South Africa and the United States, and living in various countries across the globe during my formative years.
As a result, past experiences inform my desire to depict multi-layered narratives within my art. Through image-making, I aim to portray people of colour in positions of strength and power, while also evoking a sense of vulnerability.
What influences and inspires you? How is this reflected in your work?
What influences and inspires you? How is this reflected in your work? I draw a lot of inspiration from cinema, art exhibitions, and my environment.
Most of the time when I begin a project, I start by scouting out the location and will then build the styling, makeup, and subjects based on this, as it sets the stage for the atmosphere or mood I am trying to convey.
Who are your favourite Black photographers from the past? Why?
I really admire the work of Zanele Muholi and Malick Sidibé. I constantly find myself trying to emulate their styles within my portraiture.
For the past year or so, I have been interning with an archival organization called PCPP where I have had the opportunity to work first-hand with the photography of the Kamoinge Workshop. In combing through the archive of Shawn Walker, my understanding and appreciation of documentary photography has greatly evolved.
Please describe the highs and lows of your experience as a Black photographer?
Right now, I am at a place in my career where I am about to graduate from art school and enter the world of freelancing full time. The lows for me at the moment revolve mainly around being uncertain of the future and how I am going to navigate the photography industry moving forward.
I consider myself to be a pretty optimistic person, and with that I think there are many highs. I am in a space mentally where I am proud of the work I am creating and feel confident in my ability to turn this passion into a career.
What work are you producing and what more would you like to do?
I am currently working on finalizing my documentary project for my Senior Thesis. Titled, “This Home of Ours,” this series highlights the experiences of individuals from the Bo Kaap community in Cape Town, South Africa.
I am also working on building up my fashion/editorial portfolio so that I can begin reaching out to more publications oriented towards this style.
About Ayesha Kazim
Ayesha Kazim is a freelance photographer working between New York City and Cape Town, South Africa. Her photographic practice involves producing clean, refined portraits that bring a fresh, lively energy to her subjects through colourful, yet coordinated settings and styling.
Ayesha has worked with a wide range of clients and publications including MarketWatch, PHMuseum, Analog Forever Magazine, Vogue Italia, Kaltblut Magazine, Diversify Photo, Girlgaze, Everyday Africa, CRWNMAG, Humble Arts Foundation, and Art and Type Magazine.
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The Q&A is an ongoing discussion open to Black photographers of all ages, genders and genres.