one of my other passions other than fashion is art. i grew up going to the philadelphia musueum of art and taking weekend art classes. i’m alway so grateful that my parents encouraged my love of art and photography (at least when i was younger) because it is such a vital part of my life and career. when the new black vanguard book came out in 2019, i immediately picked it up. i had been following the work of artists like joshua kissi, nadine ijewere, and shaniqwa jarvis for a while, but it was a watershed moment when tyler mitchell shot beyoncé’s vogue cover the year prior. more people were being exposed to the amazing pool of black talent there was behind the camera.
i was honored when the museum of african diaspora reached out about working with them to promote ‘the new black vanguard’ exhibit through fashion looks inspired by the show. collaborating with MoAD as a Black creative has been such an important moment for me. i love that this exhibit showcases some of the amazing talent in fashion photography, and represents Blackness through the eyes of people of color. part of the reason i do what i do is to show that women like me can love fashion, art, etc. and inspire others to do so. and in my work, it’s important to me to push the brands that I work with to be inclusive both in front of and behind the camera.
this shoot was inspired by the dichotomy of my experiences growing up on the east coast—time spent in philadelphia and new york and the rich culture of art and fashion—mixed with my life in san francisco. my style has always been about contrasts, so i wanted to play in that space. masculine mixed with feminine, city mixed with nature, brightness mixed with shadow. when it comes to my personal style, it has evolved from where it was, always preppy but now mixed with softness and streetwear. in a world that wants women, especially Black women, to blend in, my style is all about standing out and standing in my power.
for this special editorial, i worked with photographer kayla de guzman, who was born and raised in daly city. when i first saw her work, i was drawn to how she captured people but also the environment in which they were in. and since the shoot was inspired by growing up and living in cities, that was really important to me. i wanted to talk to kayla more about her journey as a creator, and what inspires her. read on to learn more about her.
how did you begin your journey into photography? were you creative as a kid?
i’ve always been into photography since i was a teenager I guess you can say. I never really went to school for photography but I enjoyed it. i picked up my first camera, which was a canon rebel T3, back in 2011. i did my first concept photo shoot in 2011 with some friends, and fell in love with all the creativity involved, then people started asking me to take photos of them, I’ve then consistently started posting photos of my work, then my unexpected journey began.
i was not really creative as a kid; i just loved taking pictures, and didn’t really see it as being creative. i guess you can say any photo you take could be in relations to creating art.
what are you trying to express through your photography? Is there a purpose that drives your work?
the emotions I want to express through my photography would be capturing other peoples emotions, their real emotions at that given moment. i don’t ever want to miss it. photos are memories. a memory you once had and luckily it is kept for you to revisit. photography can be impactful, which can sometimes make them more powerful than words.
how have your personal experiences and your background as a BIPOC woman shaped how you create images?
as a Filipino woman, i didn’t really gain much support from my family choosing to become a full time photographer. the expected career choice as an asian-american was to become a nurse or generally taking any part in the medical field. so it definitely pushed me to do what I loved rather than be stuck with what I don’t. it pushed me to be who i am as an artist and that is to be myself. my true self. it pushed me to not have anyone else’s opinions distract me from my own. it really pushed me to create more and share with the world that you can do anything you set your mind to. this is your world, this is your life. you are the main character! i create art for me.
How do you get inspired and access your creative stores?
my passion for photography is what drives me consistently. although sometimes it can get a little rocky, cause we can get super hard on ourselves, or we go through a hiatus, but all in all my passion for photography will never fade. photography has lead me to the right paths, the right people, and I’ve learned so much from meeting people who share the same interests as me on a creative level.
i get inspired by friends, clients, music videos, social media, and just meeting new people. keeping an open mind, learning about people, learning their likes and dislikes, their love for art, their background and culture.
you’ve worked in a few different genres—editorial, documentary, events, architecture—do you have a favorite?
out of all the photography categories, i really really enjoy shooting music events especially when the venues have really good stage lighting – it gives me more space to be creative, whether it’d be capturing different angles or just editing wise.
what artists and/or photographers would you list as influences?
chi Moda, quentin ventura, sarah ohta, monique yvonne, ian kelly, larussell, deshawn visionz, beejus, barbara jayy, damaris flores, and tatiana wise.
any cool projects on the horizon you can share?
i am working on my first photo book, and it won’t be released ’til early spring of next year 🙂
give a follow to kayla on instagram, and make sure to check out ‘the new black vanguard’ at the museum of african diaspora on view now through march 5, 2023. moad is participating in san francisco’s free museum weekend on december 3-4, and will be offering free admission on sunday, december 4. learn more and reserve your tickets by clicking here.
clare de lune tulle dress (borrowed), vintage earrings (similar) / j. crew shirt, tibi pants (old, similar), alexis bittar earrings / thebe magugu dress, céline sandals / glemaud dress, massimo dutti sandals / autumn adeigbo coat, theory trousers, nike sneakers, ‘47 hat