deborah willis

Inspiration: Deborah Willis

I own a copy of photographer Deborah WillisReflections in Black that chronicles black photographers and photography of black life from 1840 to the present. 

Even before I knew of her own photography achievements, I knew that her work in this project was special and something that I had to own.  I tracked down a hard copy at a fabulous black owned bookstore in Harlem called Sisters Uptown Bookstore  and began my journey into a comprehensive history of black photography.  I stumbled upon a Vice article about her and it quietly relit the flame under my own journey as a black woman carving out a space for herself in this white male dominated industry.  As a 30+ year old digital photography student, it comes as no shock that most of the studied “greats” of this field look nothing like me and do not capture work that reflects my existence.  Representation matters and Deborah Willis’ continued effort to share stories of our existence inspires storytellers like myself to soldier on and continue sharing our perspective.  Check out the Vice article featuring Deborah Willis here and Reflections in Black can be purchased here.