"AS A BLACK FASHION photographer, I don't think people realize how much pressure we are under to NOT work with black models. The industry is constantly telling us that black models are NOT fashion and that they are commercial and to focus on working with the mostly white ones if we want credibility and prestige. I have constantly been pressured to conform to this idea."The insanely talented shutterbug Tarrice Love writes about the prejudice facing black models in the fashion industry.
I wondered how models who weren't of the Caucasian persuasion fared here in Blighty. Urban Shotz Photography, a friend of ka-ostheory, is well known for working with new, upcoming black models. The photographer has built up a solid reputation amongst models for his work. I asked him what he thought about Love's article - and if the UK fashion industry was as unforgiving to black models as the US seems to be. "I have long been an admirer of Tarrice's work and I can understand what he is saying," Urban Shotz tells me. "When I was starting out I was encouraged by an agency to work with white women rather than black men if I wanted to become successful. On the rare occasions a black man is used in an advertising campaign, he often has to conform to a non-threatening 'Gap advert' stereotype."
It's difficult to contemplate. Shawn Sutton, Marcus Lloyd, Oraine Barrett, Wendell Lissimore, Anthony Gallo, Cortland Anderson, Dominique Hollington, and, of course Tyson Beckford. You may not be familiar with all the names, but I'm sure many of you reading this will know the faces of these strikingly beautiful (black) models. So Love's words come as a stark reminder: for some, black isn't beautiful.
More of Tarrice Love's work after the jump (where you can also hear Tarrice talk about this subject too)...