There’s no feeling quite like recovering lost files that you’d given up on after about 8 months from the breast pocket of a pair of dusty overalls. Even more poignant is finally getting to share one of my favorite portrait shoots featuring Alex Walker, the supremely talented cosmetologist and all-around artist whose work has helped make the last several shoots more magical than expected. It comes as no surprise, then, that someone gracious enough to forgive my ill-formed makeup concepts and humor the crazier ones radiates as much beauty as I’d attempted to capture in these images.

Underlying Alex’s grace is a strong sense of self, purpose, and determination; the shifting platform of human, and more specifically LGBTQIAP+ rights worldwide has proven itself to be a catalyst for many to not only come out of the woodwork and tell the world who they are, but to also fight relentlessly and passionately for the safety, acceptance, and fair treatment of others. Indeed, a few conversations we’ve had concerning the topic gave me a better understanding of the larger queer community, especially at the intersection of art, and also helped me better understand where I, an asexual of Color, might fit into that network. To be given the opportunity to interact with such a radiant person, and to witness true grit, gumption, and undeniable talent in action is something I’m genuinely grateful for.

In this, my very first outdoor photoshoot a few months ago, I not only wanted to practice finding light, filling the frame, and focusing on detail, but I also wanted to create a portrait that didn’t automatically fall into “feminine” or “masculine” fashion. I was having a hard time understanding the stark differences in gendered clothing and accessories, and also the automatic feminization (and subsequent ridicule) of members of the gay community. Personally, being agender and asexual has allowed me to be able to see people as entities, and not as a sum of their physical parts. In so doing, it doesn’t make sense that a male typically “can’t” wear a lacy crop top and free flowing palazzo pants in  midsummer if he so chooses, or sparkling pink and gold rings and earcuffs and other “feminine” trinkets. I wanted to capture a beautiful human wearing beautiful clothes and accessories against a beautiful backdrop, and I can only hope that I succeeded in making him feel thusly.

Jewelry & Crop Top / / eBay
Pants / / Femi Boutique

Model / / Alex Walker
Photography & Editing / / Khadijat Yussuff

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