Sorry, nothing in cart.
Amber Asaly, Myesha Evon Gardner and Sasha Samsonova on exploring womanhood through portrait-making.
Photography is a powerful art form that can allow one to express a plethora of emotions, themes and messages in one single frame. Producing portraits that capture people’s attention and make an impact, especially in the age of social media when we consume an overwhelming amount of visual content daily, is not an easy task. When an image is able to move someone, however, it becomes all the more rewarding for the photographer.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the work of three photographers — Amber Asaly, Myesha Evon Gardner and Sasha Samsonova — who use their camera to portray confident, empowered women. By conveying the unique stories of different individuals through their lens, these creatives are exploring and celebrating the complexities of modern womanhood, motherhood and much more.
Get to know Asaly, Gardner and Samsonova, who talk about their creative process, how they establish trust with their subjects and more below.
Based in Los Angeles, Amber Asaly is known for photographing her subjects mainly on film. With her highly saturated color aesthetic and wide-angle shots, Asaly has been able to create her own signature style, making her images distinctive. The creative has worked with the likes of Hailey Bieber, Winnie Harlow and Emily Ratajkowski, and has lensed campaigns for brands such as PUMA and Frankies Bikinis.
What got you into photography in the first place?
I took a film photography class in high school. We were all asked to show up to class with a 35mm camera. I always had a camera on me but never a film one, because the aspect of it was foreign to me. I knew nothing about it. My best friend’s dad conveniently collected film cameras. He let us go into this magical room full of cameras and let us pick one out for us to use for class. Little did I know that camera I chose opened the door to the beginning of my career. I was in love with every aspect of film — the viewfinder, the texture, the development process and even the smell of the developing process. I literally loved everything about it. It truly became my third eye.
View this post on Instagram
How do you establish trust with your models and create a safe space for everyone involved in a shoot?
Good energy on set is the most important aspect of a shoot — more than lighting, cameras, lenses and all that technical jazz. Making sure everyone feels comfortable on set is key — not just the model but the whole team. Energy can be felt through the results of my work.
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers out there?
If you want something, you can get it. You just have to be willing to put in the work. Nothing that lasts long-term happens overnight. Long-lasting success is built over time. So with that being said, be okay with being broke for a minute because you need to trust that the outcome will be a success. You have to crawl before you ball. If I can do it, I swear you can too.
View this post on Instagram
On social media, numerous models have recently shared harrowing accounts of alleged sexual harassment or abuse at the hands of photographers they worked with. What do you think needs to change within the industry to stop these situations from happening?
Keep bringing awareness and keep calling them out. F*ck these people in power that think they can take advantage. Stop using art as an outlet to be a creep. It’s 2021, Diet Prada is one DM away from exposing anyone and anything corrupt.
Myesha Evon Gardner
Brooklyn-based art director and photographer Myesha Evon Gardner attained her BFA in graphic design and photography at Parsons School of Design. Since then, Gardner has dedicated her work to highlighting the cultural, social and personal experiences of the Black community through exploring the themes of legacy, love and labor. Most of her visuals arrive in the form of photographic and figurative portraiture, photo documentation, as well as editorial conception.
Who are some of your creative inspirations? How have they influenced the way you see the world through your lens?
My creative inspirations range from legendary photographers like Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Carrie Mae Weems, Dana Lixenberg, Herb Ritts and Lois Greenfield, to the very mundane. The things that I see in day-to-day life truly inspire how I view the world, because I love to capture stillness in everyday beauty that is often overlooked. This practice is applied to the types of subjects I seek to capture.
Parks is a huge influence for me because his work ranges from sociopolitical — documenting poverty and civil rights — to capturing fashion for Vogue. He was one of my earliest examples to show that there is no one category to lend your eye as a photographer. Beauty is not found, it just is, and I believe that every person, place or thing has a beautiful story that is worth being told. Someone just needs to see that and therein is the true gift of being a photographer.
View this post on Instagram
What kind of stories did you want to tell when you first started out photography?
I was raised in a home with a large family, so naturally, I was drawn to documenting them. I was so enamored with their natural beauty and wanted to showcase what I saw to the world. I spent a lot of my early years capturing portraits of my sisters, Mecca and Myonna. Most of my early work was featured in books that my classmates and I designed, and in group exhibitions where I sold prints. I began receiving awards for my work and being recognized by artist organizations such as Scholastic Art and Writing. By getting that kind of recognition at 16 and 17 years old, it was then that I knew how important it was for me to capture Black women and women of color.