Serena Brown's work rejoice ignored tales and on a regular basis magnificence
"For as long as I can remember, I've always been the one capturing moments from the people around me … it was just something I did," says London-based photographer Serena Brown. "When I was 16, I actually started experimenting with what went into my composition and learning what and who was important to me when I was taking photos."
Brown says she is incredibly inspired by her Ghanaian heritage. "It's a big part of my identity that I want to bring a lot more into my work," she says. Brown's upbringing in London also plays a big part in her work. "It's what I know and the people here inspire me. I spent most of my time at Falmouth University on nine-hour buses to London to take pictures because I just couldn't connect as creatively as I can, when I'm here in the culture, ”she says.
Jemima, class of Covid-19
Since graduating, the photographer has placed great emphasis on making her subjects the focus of every picture. The most authentic representation has become a key and has made them adopt a documentary style through a fashionable lens. “I love to photograph people with stories, find people who are overlooked, and look for beauty in everyday life,” explains Brown.
With natural light, fresh faces and places close to Brown or familiar with the people she photographs, she instills a sense of honesty and community in every project. "My work celebrates being natural and knowing that it's okay to be different in any way. The experiences of the people I grew up with are really rich and I try to bring this to light in my work. I've always wanted to change the way we see black images in the whitewashed media industry, and I think that will always be an important goal for me. "
MYAE for Refinery29 x Converse
While still at the beginning of her career, Brown has already had a handful of large assignments, including working with brands like Nike, Footlocker, Converse, and Refinery29. "I've been very fortunate to shoot for clients I've admired so early in my career, and it's nice that even my commissioned work is often mission-focused," says Brown. "It was very daunting at first, but I always have confidence in my skills and my work, which is why they probably trust me during the creative process."
For Brown's latest series, Class of Covid-19, she spoke to 16 to 18 year olds whose worlds have been turned upside down when exams are canceled. “I spoke to them about their concerns about class, institutional racism, higher education and their mental health,” she explains. "It was great to see how big platforms like Refinery29 published the girls' stories and made their voices accessible to a wider audience."
Mel, back a yardZaynab, class of Covid-19
For Brown, it's important to reinforce voices that are relatively unknown in the creative industry, and she definitely believes there is still a lot to be done to make it more inclusive. "Personally, I would like to see more workers working in the creative industry. I don't think this is a career path that is considered achievable unless you have a path into it or parents who will fund you at the beginning" she says. "It was never promoted when I was in school, but I've seen so many people I grew up with who still succeed despite these obstacles."
From her own experience, Brown says that one of those barriers in the past has been money. "I definitely felt like I was being held back from accomplishing certain things because I couldn't afford to do them, especially at university." However, those things definitely shouldn't stop you from creating, and even if your route is a little more difficult than anyone else's, it's so important to continue creating in every way, ”says Brown. "I would like to see more initiatives that encourage low-income people to work in the creative industry because we need to level the playing field."
England Roses for Nike
In terms of projects she personally takes on, Brown is pushing for a diverse cast to make sure everyone is represented, and overall she feels like things are slowly getting to a good place.
The work she does on herself is about building trust. "I definitely learn and drive myself every time I shoot," she says. "I can't see my nerves waiting for my film to come back from the lab anytime soon, but I love being able to work with brands to create important work."
Nike x Refinery29
MYAE for Refinery29 x Converse
Footlocker for her, International Women's Day
Okasia for Nike