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More Than Photographers: Damari McBride is reaching youth through pop culture portraits

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More Than Photographers: Damari McBride is reaching youth through pop culture portraits

Find out why Damari McBride is More Than a Photographer

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Damari McBride is a portrait photographer based in Brooklyn, NY who is using pop culture to help educate young audiences. Since making the switch from hobby photographer to pro in 2015, McBride has found his work typically falls under three categories; food, fashion, and music. But lately, the photographer has been branching out; discovering new avenues of storytelling. In 2018, McBride went on assignment with PWB and Nourish, a conservation NGO in South Africa, and was featured in the PWB Film, Beyond the Gun. Most recently, he has been working with youth in his area to teach photography as a from of therapy.

PWB recently sat down with McBride to talk about the importance of storytelling and accessibility.

Photo by Damari McBride @damarimcbride  Taken on assignment for Nourish

Photo by Damari McBride @damarimcbride

Taken on assignment for Nourish

PWB: What makes you more than a photographer? 

DM: I think of myself as a philosopher. Their job is to make you think, dig deeper, look, and ask the big questions like why and how? It is my hope that my work in popular culture (fashion and music), challenges viewers to do all of the things and lead them to create change and impact. There’s meaning and connection in everything. This is what makes me more than a photographer.  

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Photos by Damari McBride @damarimcbride  Taken on assignment for Nourish

Photos by Damari McBride @damarimcbride

Taken on assignment for Nourish

PWB: How has your work as a photographer connected you to your community? to the world?

DM:
When I first started photography, I was into food. I’m also very interested in fashion. But I didn’t understand it, I thought it was a thing of class, but it isn’t. It’s a part of culture. I’m into music, and it’s also a part of culture. Those three things; food, music and fashion, shape people. So I work in those specific branches to try to connect people to social issues. It’s easy to connect people to social issues through popular culture. What I’m trying to do is not only educate people about social issues but Im also trying to reach younger audiences and connect to them in the ways they already know how. 

I stay connected to my community because I depend on my community. And my community is massive. I don’t consider it just the radius of where I live. My community is wherever I go.

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Photos by Damari McBride @damarimcbride  "Blossom" is a photo series that highlights members of the LGBTQ community, speaking truths, and being who you are in spite of what society wants you to be.

Photos by Damari McBride @damarimcbride

"Blossom" is a photo series that highlights members of the LGBTQ community, speaking truths, and being who you are in spite of what society wants you to be.

Q. How does your work dismantle existing narratives of who can make it in food, fashion, and music?

I’m trying to put my work in front of people who don’t really have access… anyone In the community who is afraid to go into museums and don’t feel welcome in those places. I’m figuring out how to use public space as a gallery. I don’t want [my work] in a gallery, not everyone feels welcome in a gallery. I’m figuring out how I can get my work to people who feel neglected and feel left out, but who also matter in this conversation. 

Everything in food, everything in fashion, everything in music, it excludes a group of people, basically the marginalized. I’m trying to tear down those bubbles by continuing to get the work in front of them by working on interactive shows that are hands on and welcoming. 

The biggest thing about my work is that, yes I’m making it for me, and I am very honoured that I get to do this work, but at the same time, I’m making it to educate someone. To bring up issues. And I need people to interpret them. That’s the only way we can keep the torch burning.

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Photos by Damari McBride @damarimcbride  Images from the last music store in Hudson Valley, New York. The owner, Rob, speaks on his view on gentrification and how technology is changing the way of his business.

Photos by Damari McBride @damarimcbride

Images from the last music store in Hudson Valley, New York. The owner, Rob, speaks on his view on gentrification and how technology is changing the way of his business.

PWB: What does storytelling mean to you? 

DM: I know it’s important. Whether it’s fiction or fact. I appreciate both, and we’re all part of storytelling. I look at it as an inspiration to create or explore something else. Storytelling fuels creativity in all places. It keeps you searching for more, and inspires the “What if?”. 

For more of McBride’s work and upcoming exhibits, click here.

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