I started this project with one objective: explore what it is like being a black man in the current climate in the United States through the use of black and white portraiture. At the beginning, my end goal was to take the best four photos of each subject I found and photographed and put them together in a book format. The idea of a gallery showing and exhibit came later.
As I progressed through this process and project, took more photos and spoke to more people, I had a thought: yes, being black in America is and has always been a detrimental thing and the odds are not in your favor when you are a black man – and I speak from experience. However, after expanding my original concept and while being black in today’s America is hard, being a Muslim, immigrant, gay, or trans can be just as complicated, rough, and painful. It hit me that simply being different today in the U.S. and globally is still seen as unacceptable and imperfect.
Inspired by the bravery of Saffiya Khan, I decided to expand on my original plan – broadening it and making it a large-scale wider outreach to everyone and anyone feeling like they are the minority. Instead of simply “Being black,” this new all-encompassing project is now called “Being…”.
At its core, the goal remains the same: to explore what it’s like being different in today’s America under the current Administration where the color of your skin, belief system, country of origin or sexual orientation instantly marks you as being unconventional for some in regards to accepted societal norms, unique and unwelcome. Because truly, what does it mean being… black, Muslim, gay, trans, bi, Asian, a woman, an immigrant, Latino or simply human in the country today? What is the true face of America in 2017? How many people who identify as minorities will want to be part of this project with me and part of this new generation of minorities speaking up as they still continue to face discriminations and further hatred, injustice and intolerance? And what are their stories?
Being… will be broken down in multiple parts and I am ideally looking for 8-10 subjects per category who are willing to share their life story and let me photograph candidly. Being… is more than just a photo project, it is an experience. Subjects will be sent a list of questions – both personal and in-depth – as a way to trigger a conversation during the shoot and start a personal exchange between them and I. Being… is about being exposed and baring your soul in front of a camera talking about your life experiences but also about being vulnerable while posing shirtless – defenseless. The shirtless criteria will be adapted depending on the subject being male or female and women can simply pull their top down as to expose their shoulders. If you or anyone you know fit into any of the aforementioned categories or you simply feel different, please get in touch with me. Let’s talk, take some photos, and smile at those that dare to push their hateful agenda.
I am looking for both subjects and sponsors/donations to continue to photograph minorities in black and white and create an exhibit and possibly publish a book. Thank you in advance for your generosity to support this art. All donations will go towards the Being… project.
If you'd like to participate in this project, please fill out the information below. If you'd like to donate to this project, please hit the donate button!
Men who participate in this project will need to be comfortable with taking their shirt off. Follow the project on Instagram.