Brian Shumway is a Brooklyn-based photographer who studied anthropology and philosophy at the University of Utah. Brian’s clients include Time, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Parade, People, TV Guide, and others. His work has been exhibited widely, including at Asya Geisberg Gallery, 3rd Ward, Griffin Museum, Camera Club of New York, Soho Photo, Fraser Gallery, and the Manege in St Petersburg, Russia. His work has appeared in Communication Arts, American Photography, and the Photo Review. Brian was included in Magenta Foundation’s Emerging 30 Photographers twice (2006 and 2008) and made their Top 100 list in 2014.
Black Girl is a portrait series about real, ordinary women who dream of being models. Countless women aspire to be models, due in part to the ubiquity and appeal of reality television shows like “America’s Next Top Model” on contemporary American culture. Fashion for decades has struggled with racial inclusion. Black women’s unique beauty and style are especially seen as a curse and, consequently, they are severely under-represented. However, historically a few success stories exist, like Tyra Banks, Dorothea Towles and Donyale Luna.
Titled after a Lenny Kravitz song, Black Girl is not a fashion series. It is an alternative to the fashion industry’s one-dimensional world, where one class of people (often affluent, educated, and white) narrowly circumscribe beauty, desire, and style. Without mimicking fashion’s visual language, Black Girl fuses fashion, modeling, portraiture and documentary photography. Creating a fantasy-based narrative juxtaposed against New York’s stark urban reality, the women become a character in a story shaped by their own tastes and sensibilities with direction from myself. Black Girl is thus a collaborative project where beauty, fantasy, race, sexuality, and identity intersect, extolling the unique allure of real black women who, though devalued, refuse to stop dreaming.
To view more of Brian’s work, please visit his website.