Image 1 by Yanissa X

Yanissa X Q&A

Yanissa X talks photography with The Black Gaze.

The Black gaze is relatable, humanistic, empathetic, authentic, truthful, inclusive, defiant.

It is important that we shape our identity and see ourselves beyond the outsiders’ limited beliefs. False beliefs stemming from a bleak history. The Black gaze allows us to see each other in an understanding and dignifying light, claim our image back and reinvent ourselves.

How does this relate to your photography practice?

I’ve always been fascinated by visual arts. I’ve grown up surrounded by diverse forms of Black art and very curious about how we are represented and why. I often felt perplexed by the way we were portrayed in visual arts and media in general. This was a time before social media’s inception.

The narrow and sometimes downright devaluing way we were shown inspired me to find different mediums to counter distorted and damaging images. I want to document Black life with an honest, respectful and honourable approach. Doing so has also been very therapeutic.

What do you want to say or address with your photography?

Although specific causes are dear to me, I seek to document people of colour, Black life in differing angles than most might be used to. Beyond the status quo. I want to encourage people to question their biases, perception, etc. I also just want all of us to simply enjoy how beautiful and diverse we are.

Image 2 by Yanissa X

What influences and inspires you? How is this reflected in your work?

I find inspiration in everyday life, my upbringing, my roots, the many different cultures within the worldwide Black community, everything.

Who are your favourite Black photographers from the past? Why?

Chi Modu and Jamel Shabazz: I have a deep appreciation for their raw documentation of Hip-Hop culture and Black American life in general.

Carrie Mae Weems: The messages she shares through her photography are so vital. Especially as a Black woman photographer. You might not recognise her name but you’ll definitely recognise her photographs.

Image 3 by Yanissa X

Please describe the highs and lows of your experience as a Black photographer?

I’d describe collaborations with fellow Black creatives as a high. Nothing makes me happier than us being able to come together to make dreams tangible. I also appreciate the love and support found within the Black photography community, helping and uplifting one another.

A low would be the tokenism I sometimes experience. My presence has come across as unexpected or shocking in certain spaces. Glad to be the disruptor!

Image 4 by Yanissa X

What work are you producing and what more would you like to do?

I’ve got some exciting things coming up, stay on the lookout! I’m currently working on creative personal projects I can’t wait to share.

I just want to keep creating powerful and wholesome imagery for us.

About Yanissa X

Yanissa X is a portrait, concert and events photographer. Yanissa brings a warm human approach to capturing the beauty and uniqueness of the simplest moments.

The models featured in Yanissa’s images are Anaïs Joly Damphousse (Image 1), Kayla Kasl Vision (image 2) and Kamissa (images 3 and 4).

You can find more of Yanissa’s work on her website, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Take part in The Q&A

The Q&A is an ongoing discussion open to Black photographers of all ages, genders and genres.