Dante Nicholas Q&A
We often hear about the issue of “the White gaze” and so I think of Black gaze as the answer to that. Just this year, we’ve started to see Black photographers like Kennedi Carter and AB+DM Studio shoot major magazine covers. This year. We’re JUST now seeing these firsts at Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ.
And we’re bodying these shoots every single time, delivering cultural moments that these publications weren’t getting before, because they didn’t truly understand our culture. We know how Black skin tones should be photographed, styled, etc. That’s why the Black gaze matters so much.
How does this relate to your photography practice?
I shoot a lot of music photography (festivals, etc.) and it’s always so interesting to see Black musicians and Hip Hop culture dominate the festival space, but the photographers and videographers documenting these moments are typically white males. I want to be a part of the change in that sense.
What do you want to say or address with your photography?
Beyond being a part of the shift in the industry, I want to put our culture on display in ways that it hasn’t before. Beats by Dre recently released a powerful commercial where the dialogue starts off by saying “You love Black culture, but do you love me?” I want to build on that message in my work. It’s simple, but powerful all at once.
What influences and inspires you? How is this reflected in your work?
I’m inspired by so many people that I would consider my peers; Greg Noire, Ravie B, Mark Clennon, Blair Caldwell. Our generation is so extremely talented, and social media has given us a platform for our talent to be deemed worthy of being celebrated in ways previous generations never had access to.
Who are your favourite Black photographers from the past? Why?
Lately, I’ve been watching and reading a ton about Jamel Shabazz. He’s a street photographer from Brooklyn, NY and his style of photography personifies everything I spoke about before. And of course I have to mention the absolute legend that is Gordon Parks.
Please describe the highs and lows of your experience as a Black photographer?
A lot of times, as a young Black photographer (and really in any industry), you get looked over just because of those two descriptors alone. But that’s starting to change as we see young Black talent starting to receive shine and decision-making power in all aspects of the corporate world.
My biggest two photo gigs (working with Netflix and ESSENCE) have come from knowing young Black talent on the corporate side.
What work are you producing and what more would you like to do?
My goal for 2020 was to shoot with more models in order to develop my fashion photography sense. Coronavirus kind of put that on hold, but that’s still the goal moving forward. I’m also concepting a personal project entitled ‘Black and Blessed’ that I hope to release in February.
About Dante Nicholas
Dante Nicholas is a multi-talented creative strategist who rocks social media plans and, music and lifestyle photography. Based in New Orleans, Dante has created photography for and been showcased by Netflix, Paper Magazine, Essence Magazine, VSCO, Later.com and more.
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