In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among other instances of police brutality, the national conversation around policing and incarceration in Black communities has undergone a profound shift. So too has it served as a moment of reckoning within the media and creative industries, as the lack of representation for Black voices and creators has been reiterated in stark terms.
It’s for both these reasons that a group of New York-based creative colleagues, variously spanning photo editors, art directors, agents, and producers, have come together to launch Reframing the Future, a print sale featuring the work of over 50 photographers fundraising to divest from the current system of police brutality and mass incarceration. Running until the 30th of June, prices begin at $25 for posters up to $100 for larger C-prints, with 100% of proceeds being split equally between National Bail Out and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. The former is a Black-led and Black-centered collective of organizers, lawyers, and activists working towards ending the current systems of pretrial detention and mass incarceration. The latter is a nonprofit supporting the Black trans community, formed in honor of Johnson’s work as an activist and her important role in the Stonewall uprising—a cause which carries an added significance given the concurrence of the protests with Pride month.
While the group behind the project has chosen to remain anonymous in order to place the focus on the causes and creatives featured, they specifically reached out to a diverse roster of photographers. From emerging talent to more established names, the sale places a particular emphasis on spotlighting the output of Black creatives working across the worlds of art, fashion, and film.
Here, three of the photographers who have contributed to the print sale talk to Vogue about the significance of the images they chose to support these important causes.Photo: Araba AnkumaAraba Ankuma, flight practice, 2018
“The photograph was taken in 2018, when I visiting Ghana, which is a second home for me. I had been to Cape Coast before and visited Elmina Castle, where there is a ‘door of no return’ for those taken from West Africa as part of the slave trade. This time, though, I was really interested in understanding the lifestyle of the people who still live there. There are a lot of waterways and canals there, and I found these boys having an amazing time just flipping off the sides of these boats, playing around, each trying to outdo the other.
“When I was invited to be a part of this initiative, they asked about specifically using this photograph. That felt really good, as this is an older piece of work, and not so many people have seen the stuff I was doing in Ghana. I definitely feel like the moment captured in the photograph fits the times, because I wanted to express a certain feeling of Black boy joy when I first took it. If there ever was a time for Black people needing to see something light or feel some levity, that time is right now. As a dark-skinned Black woman who has grown up in the States, this is less of a reveal, and more a reality that has been there the entire time. And it’s important to note that a lot of this Black talent and Black excellent has also been there the entire time. It’s another sort of reveal. Now, hopefully, it won’t be recognized just by Black people, but also the biggest names everywhere, which will then give opportunities to other incredibly talented artists who have not been offered them in the past.” — Araba AnkumaPhoto: Lelanie FosterLelanie Foster, Goddess, Queen & Slim, 2019
“This image was taken on the set of Queen & Slim—it’s an image of Indya Moore, who plays the role of Goddess. I was one of four black photographers invited by the filmmakers Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas to set to photograph the movie’s scenes and characters. It was their intention to uplift and elevate the voices of Black photographers and also to have the film's companion imagery created specifically through a Black lens. The access I was granted and the time spent with the cast photographing, and also not photographing, allowed for an invaluable amount of trust given to me by the actors.
“It was an opportunity to share and honor an empowering image of a Black trans woman, an image typically ignored, threatened and not celebrated—this made it the perfect choice. The image being from Queen & Slim, a film that deals with the issue of police, policing and law enforcement in general as a direct threat to black life, was also important. This fight requires longterm commitment and support … I hope that this print sale and all the others that are happening serve as entry points for members of our creative community and those buying the artwork to become more involved and committed to a lifetime of struggle (in many forms) for the change we want to see, not just for now.” — Lelanie FosterPhoto: Adrienne RaquelAdrienne Raquel, Sunset Drive, 2017
“I captured Sunset Drive in the summer of 2017 while on a girl’s trip with one of my best friends. We rented a convertible Mustang and road tripped from LA to spend five days in Palm Springs, and this image was taken en route to Coachella Valley. For me, this image personifies the essence of joy, freedom, and wanderlust. It depicts such a timeless, carefree moment. Everything from the dreamy landscape to the warm pink hues makes this photo feel like the ultimate getaway. It feels like a fantasy and reassures a sense of hope, which I believe people will really resonate with during this time.” — Adrienne Raquel