Black women are über creative, y'all. We perform geometric equations in detailed braiding patterns, we can engineer any device with the bare minimum tools, and we basically drive the pop culture of the entire world. Art, in all aspects of creativity—from painting, sculpting, and theater, to music, dance, and photography—although not new to the black community, is newly celebrated on a larger scale than previously recognized. And with photography leading the pack, thanks to pioneers such as Deborah Willis, Lorna Simpson, and Marilyn Nance, black women are now picking up their cameras at an all-time high.
We decided to list some of the most poppin' queens making the most noise as photographers. Here's our list of 10 female photographers putting on for the culture.
Courtesy of Tori Lens
Location: London, England
Favorite Camera: Nikon D3200 or Samsung S9+
Signature Style: "Vibrant, active, and smokey!"
"Me owning what I love and no longer apologizing for being a flipping powerhouse—despite being a bubbly, friendly, open-minded, black female with a shaved head and big African earrings—it all means that me just being, is making an impact."
Tori Lens is a first gen British-born Nigerian based on the other side of the pond in London. She is a clicking beast best known for her vibrant smoke bomb photoshoots and commitment to getting the right shot. "I'm always moving when I'm shooting, people always say that to me. And I love when my subjects do the same and are not afraid to take my unorthodox suggestions and run with it," she says. With a creative background that ranges from graffiti, painting, and sewing, Tori always knew she would have photography in her peripheral. "I must admit no matter my journey, I believe I would have always found photography because I am a visual creative and naturally curious. [I'm] always learning and growing. It was inevitable."
Courtesy of Sierra Leone
Favorite Camera: Full Frame D750
Signature Style: "Unposed. I want to always capture my subjects as they are in motion!"
"Shortly after giving birth to my daughter, I realized I didn't want to put her in daycare. And photography allowed me the freedom to capture her fleeting moments, stay at home with her, and secure the bag."
Sierra Leone is a self-taught, well-oiled photography machine based in the DMV and Atlanta areas. Encouraged by her mother to pursue the industry, she cites the times her mom would often capture her as a child. "While growing up, and even to this day, she is always capturing moments and while she used to preserve those moments through scrapbooking," she says with a smile, "I loved looking through her captures when I was younger. She has such an artistic eye when freezing time." Sierra then studied her craft and took to the internet to self-indulge in the basics. "I attended YouTube University, and I have been capturing beautiful humans for about 7 years now. I absolutely love what I do!"
Photo Credit: Quinten Swygert
Location: Little Rock, AR
Favorite Camera: Open to any camera with a 1.2 85mm prime lens
Signature Style: "I'm a natural light shooter, so my signature style is very clean and bright, with simplicity."
"I am looking to shift mindsets on the concept of photography. Photography is not only an art, but there's a science to it."
Jen Missouri is a highly sought-after newbie in the southern region of the U.S. She is best known for her attention to detail and passion for the perfect angle. "I practice shooting what I see through my lens when it comes to natural light, [so] I try to eliminate as much post-work as possible. I love how subjects are captured in its raw state," she says. "Filters should be an enhancer not the highlight of the story you're trying to tell."
Since taking that little photography elective on a whim during her last year of undergrad, Jen found her appetite for shooting, and hasn't been able to put down the camera since. She is also owner of the creative space @TheSpot, which is where you can find her taking photos for exclusive client events.
Photo Credit: Kanayo Adibe
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Favorite Camera: I am currently obsessed with the Nikon z7
Signature Style: "Movement, light, sultry and fun, risk-taking. I have a vivid imagination and I never hesitate to try to execute the thing that pops into mind. I don't overthink, I gently push the people I work with and just go for it."
"My cultural impact will be to create generational heirlooms; to dispel the negative stereotypes surrounding black marriage, black fatherhood, black motherhood and black love."
Kesha Lambert is a former lawyer turned dominant wedding photographer, hailing from New York. Her journey came about when one day, she just decided to go for it. "Circumstance and opportunity is why I pursued photography. It had been an interest since I was a little girl. I even started a small portrait business in my teens." I'm super impressed as she continues, "Adult me went on to become a lawyer, got married and start a family. Then one day, a proverbial door closed that caused a shift in my mindset and, as a result, Kesha Lambert Photography became a real thing."
Inspired by her three boys, Kesha has cemented her place in photography, as her photos may be some of your favorites on social media, without you even knowing. Keep a close eye on her journey, as she will certainly be making her mark on the game.
Courtesy of Taylor Hayden
Location: Houston, TX
Favorite Camera: Canon 5D Mark IV
Signature Style: "Simple, natural, and authentic."
"I believe that in order to bring forth a positive impact, the first step is to work on yourself. We all are here for specific reasons and we've inherited special gifts to share."
Photography may have started as a hobby for the Prairie View A&M grad, but she quickly made it her passion. "I never considered becoming a professional and making money from it," she starts. "I applied for tons of positions in the communications field and I was rejected every single time. Eventually, I became fed up and decided that I would be my own boss."
And a boss she is. You can find her close to her roots, shooting authentic images for her archives. "I find the most inspiration through other passionate people that are living their purpose and committed to the journey. It truly inspires me to keep moving forward and to also share my experiences, because you never know who you could potentially impact for the better."
Photo Credit: Shani Perez
Favorite Camera: Canon 5d Mark IV / Canon EF f 2.8L 70 to 200mm. A killer combination.
Signature Style: "Urban, bold, and clean. There is beauty in simplicity."
"It is important that we control a positive narrative of our images for future generations."
Linn is a retired law enforcement officer and prominent street photographer in the city that never sleeps. "I realized that I could do more for my community behind the lens by capturing joyful moments and crafting positive content, in lieu of using handcuffs to make an arrest."
Since then, Linn has tapped into her purpose by shooting the streets, versus shooting the streets. She credits Jeanne Moutoussamy and Lindey Adler as inspirations and, in her mission to show the beauty of melanin, she plans to be around for a long time. Currently, Linn is working on a documentary and photo book to support her friend who is battling stage 4 cancer. "I will master multiple genres of photography so that I may preserve history utilizing my artful eyes, and telling the stories of all the wonderful individuals I meet in an authentic way. I will then teach others how to do the same."
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Favorite Camera: Currently Nikon D750 FX
Signature Style: "I love vivid color and I love heavy dark contrast. Growing up in Nigeria, I was always surrounded by vibrant colors and lots of high contrast (dark skin against bright sky) so that is my style."
"For me, the perfect shot has nothing to do with technical settings, but everything to do with how many questions it can answer - where, why, what, when - and whether it can convey those emotions in a single shot."
Lola Akinmade is a pretty big deal; a highly decorated, award-winning, living legend and traveling photographer with published works in National Geographic and her own books—her latest being Due North: A Collection of Travel Observations, Reflections, and Snapshots Across Color, Cultures, and Continents. But even through her many accolades and accomplishments, she still feels that she has a long way to go.
"Goal lines keep getting moved because I am shooting within an industry that doesn't expect me—and someone that looks like me—to be working in it," she says. "These are some of the unspoken rules. It's why a white, male, rugged photographer who shoots the exact same scene I did, is celebrated, while this curvy black woman is met with a questioning of 'you took that?' instead. I want to normalize black women as professional travel photographers, and travel writers, on the mainstream level. I want to inspire those who shoot and write on the highest platforms."
Courtesy of Nikia Paden
Location: Houston, TX
Favorite Camera: Canon 5D Mark IV
Signature Style: "My work is filled with vibrant colors and the nonsense correlated with candid childhood. It is meant to cause major reminiscing and extract all the smiles."
"Simply taking pictures transformed the way I observed my environment. My eyes were continuously taking mental snapshots on how environments would look photographed."
Color and youth-capture is the essence of Nikia Paden. Her super creative spirit and eye is how she has managed to be one of the top child photographers in the country. "When someone sees my work, I want them to know that it all usually begins with a crazy idea that turns into a wild creative adventure that's usually full of imagination," she says with a laugh. "I have been told that my work is a breath of fresh air, and that it captures the whimsical and innocent nature of childhood, especially for our black children. So, I want to capture our melanated minis and showcase the joy that they exude. And maybe one day, all will see the magic and the undeniable necessity that is them."
Courtesy of Creative Soul Photography
Location: Atlanta, GA
Favorite Camera: Canon 5D Mark III; 85MM 1.4 Lens
Signature Style: "I always define my signature style as 'extra'. To me, descendants of the African diaspora have always been (and always will be) trendsetters when it comes to fashion, music, and style so I want our work to reflect that - even if our subjects are kids."
"We want to empower kids of color around the world to be proud of their culture and embrace everything that makes them unique."
You have seen Kahran's photos a hundred times over, and you have no clue. She is ½ of the awesomely innovative husband/wife duo, Creative Soul Photography. And their impact on photography, is revolutionary. "My husband, Reg actually attended school for photography and I learned along with him while he was in college. We knew we wanted to start a business together, so it was the perfect opportunity for us to learn a new skill together."
And, man, have they learned.
Creative Soul's photos have been featured in Essence, Munaluchi Bride, MochaKid, on The Real, the OWN network, and more. "A perfect shot tells a story. Even if it's a studio portrait, I love when all of the elements (fashion, hairstyle, accessories, model, etc.) come together to form the story we're trying to tell."
Courtesy of Deanna G
Location: Atlanta, GA
Favorite Camera: Canon 80D/50mm 1.8 Lens
Signature Style: "My signature style is not just one thing; I see it as very versatile. It fits the moment I would say. It is always pretty vibrant, even when it is intended to be 'dark'."
"When I first decided I wanted to take a creative career choice, there were not many women figures to look up to in my field. This is, or was, a male-dominated industry, and it is changing more every day. We are making our mark in this world, and shaking it up along the way."
A photographer since high school, Deanna always knew some sort of camera would be in her hands. "I have always intended to have a career in the film industry, whether that be as an editor, or director of photography," she says. "[But] photography helped me learn more about how I see things visually and opened doors that were not previously opened before."
Her recent "A Black Man's Mental Health" series has been making noise amongst other creatives. But whether a photographer, or a film director, Deanna is sure about one thing: "I want to be an inspiration to young women around the world. I want them to be able to know that they will make it in whatever creative pathway they choose, without the constant mental panic of 'how is this going to play out?'."
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
An author by the name of Alexandra Katehakis once said this about orgasms: “Great spiritual teachers throughout the ages have stated that orgasm is the closest some people come to a spiritual experience because of the momentary loss of self. Why is this true? Because with spiritual sex, you move beyond orgasm into a connection with yourself, your partner, and the divine — recognizing them all as one.”
If it’s counterintuitive to what you’ve ever thought about orgasms, believe it or not, there are even pastors who have said that climaxing is the closest comprehension of heaven on this side of it: it is an extreme kind of bliss that is indescribable and is best experienced between two people who share a sacrificial kind of love for one another.
Although this might seem like a heavy way to intro this particular topic, because the O Method is an orgasm-achieving technique that centers around housing energy, embracing the mental practice of manifestation, and the attempt to achieve the best climaxes ever — it all works together pretty well if you ask me. If you want to take your orgasms to the next level, it’s important that you get out of yourself (to a certain extent), that you see the spiritual role that manifestation plays, and that you are open to trying new things. No doubt about it.
So, let’s learn more about what the O Method is all about and how it very well could be just what you’ve been looking for…even if you didn’t know it.
What Is the “O Method” All About?Giphy
Question: When’s the last time you’ve had an orgasm? Not just any orgasm — I mean a really mind-blowing one (I’ll give you a second to think about it). Now, what if you could manifest that experience to the point where it wasn’t a rare occurrence but something that happened almost every time that you and your partner had sex with each other? How absolutely awesome would that be?
That is pretty much what the O Method is all about — helping you achieve the kind of orgasms (and sexual pleasure, in general) that you desire through the practice of manifestation. And since your biggest sex organ is your brain, it would make perfect sense that even with all of the tips and techniques that you might learn to do as far as your body is concerned, honing in on what you think about is super imperative to sexual fulfillment, too. And that’s just where manifestation comes in.
What If You’ve Never “Manifested” Anything Before?Giphy
Before we get into a quick lesson on manifestation, I think it’s important to mention two things. One, for the cynics, there is a lot of truth in the fact that it’s got some solid spiritual basis to it because even the Good Book says that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). At the same time, that same Good Book tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). So, while it is always a good idea to focus on good, positive, and productive thoughts, just thinking about them isn’t enough — at some point, you’ve also gotta get out here and DO something (bookmark that).
Okay, with that mini-sermon out of the way, whether it’s in the bedroom or not, manifestation is basically about focusing on something tangible that you desire, harnessing your energy in such a way that your words and actions are directed towards that longing until what you want, well, manifests. For the record, aside from this having a spiritual backing to it, in many ways, science cosigns on manifesting, too. There is actually a scientific process known as neuroplasticity that consists of reframing your mind so that your actions ultimately end up aligning with your goals — and that is another way to look at manifestation.
So, what if you’re someone who has never set out to do a manifestation practice before? No worries. Something that’s awesome about it is there are several different approaches that you can take.
Some people manifest what they want in their lives via:
- Visualization/Creating vision boards
- Writing down their desires before going to bed (so that they can “download” them into their dream state)
- Creating mantras and affirmations
- Applying the 369 Manifestation Method (you can learn more about that here)
- Learning more about what you want to manifest (which brings forth clarity)
This is important to keep in mind because, when it comes to manifesting the types of orgasms that you want to have, as you can see, you can try different manifestation methods until you find one (or ones) that you are truly comfortable with. One that can ease you into the entire process rather smoothly is something known as sex journaling.
How Sex Journaling Can Actually Help You to Have an OrgasmGiphy
As a writer, I’m a big fan of journaling. Mostly because it’s a way to get out some of your deepest thoughts and feelings so that you’re able to really process what is happening inside of you in a private setting. And when it comes to sex journaling, specifically, it’s all about centering yourself on the things sexually that you want to “unpack,” get clarity on or come to some revelations about. For instance, if there’s only been one partner from your past who’s been able to help you achieve the type of orgasms that you wish to manifest, journaling about what makes him different from the other guys can provide you with some solid ah-ha moments.
Or if you need help getting as specific as possible about the sexual experiences that you’re after, journaling can help to make that happen for you — because one thing that manifesting reminds us all to do is be as specific as possible.
Yeah, simply saying, “I want to have better sex” isn’t detailed enough when you want to get your energy to match with your desires — instead, describe how all of your senses should feel in the experience, along with why, that can get you so much closer to achieving your goal. Once those things are documented, you can segue into creating mantras and/or meditation that are based on them. Yeah, sex journaling really is an underrated superpower on a lot of levels (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”).
5 Tips for Making the O Method Work for YouGiphy
Now that you know more about what the O Method is and how manifestation plays a direct role in its process, let’s talk about five ways to make the O Method truly effective in your own (sex) life.
1. Focus, FULLY, on your feminine energy. What do rose quartz, amethyst, moonstone (which is a Gemini birthstone as well; yes, I’m a Gemini), selenite, and rhodonite all have in common? They’re crystals that help you to go deeper into your divine feminine energy. Traits that are associated with this include compassion, creativity, kindness, gentleness, and sensuality (feminine energy is also accepting and forgiving). If you were to study energy from a biological standpoint, it’s about producing change, responding to stimuli, and having the ability to do what needs to be done (work). So, when it comes to manifesting the kind of orgasms or sexual experiences that you want, using things like your creativity and gentleness in your thoughts and actions can play a role in bringing balance to your partner’s masculinity, which can create a profound sense of pleasure — after all, opposites do attract.
2. Don’t hold back on what it is that you desire. Whenever I interview sex therapists, something that they all say is, a huge mistake that people make as far as sexual satisfaction is concerned is, they have walls up — not just with their partners but even within themselves. Sometimes, there is intimidation, fear, or even shame around what they really want to happen during sex to the point where they aren’t able to channel their energy fully in those directions in order to manifest what they want. For the O Method to work, you can’t let those types of negative emotions hinder you; the more you are able to articulate what you want and how you want it, the better chance you have of making it happen. So yes, get graphic. As graphic as possible.
3. Make manifestation a daily practice. Repetition is important when it comes to manifestation. That’s because the more you declare what you desire (a mantra), get still and think on it (meditation), or look at the “art” that you’ve created surrounding it (visualization), the quicker it becomes a part of you. So yes, make manifestation a daily practice. For instance, if one of your mantras is, “I am going to have intensely passionate orgasms, one right after the other,” don’t just state that 15 minutes before sex is going to happen. Wake up and declare it. Then say it on your lunch break. And again before turning in. The more your thoughts are “streamlined” in this way, the easier it will be for your body to follow suit.
4. Share this practice with your partner. If you were to do even more research on the O Method, one thing that most of the articles will mention is it’s a practice that you can do alone or with your partner. Indeed. However, I just want to make sure that you get into your psyche that great sex is, in part, about good communication. And so, the more comfortable you are sharing with your partner what you are doing as far as the O Method is concerned and what you ultimately want to happen as a result of the practice, the easier it will be for him to “match your energy” — both in and out of the bedroom. And when your partner is on the same page as you? That definitely increases the chances of attaining your sexual desires — exponentially so.
5. Stay in the moment. While I was reading one article on manifestation, I really appreciated something that the author said: manifestation isn’t some supernatural power. In other words, while it can be beneficial, it’s not like you can just think of something, and it instantly appears out of nowhere. Manifesting is a discipline, and it must be accompanied by action, consistency, and patience — this means that you must also practice mindfulness. Meaning, now that you know better what you’re looking to achieve as far as sex is concerned, every time that it transpires, maintain a level of positive energy, remember what your end goal is, and then determine in your mind to enjoy the moments as they come. Remember, manifestation isn’t to add stress…it’s to cultivate clarity.
At the end of the day, the O Method is simply a way of reminding you that your mind plays a huge role in your sexual pleasure, and when you channel it and your energy exactly where you want them both to go, you’ll be amazed what your body is capable of doing…and accomplishing.
So, what kind of orgasm are you wanting to achieve? You’ve got a tool to get you there. USE IT.
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Featured image by Giphy