Over the last decade I have been working and continue to work on a photography project that allows me as an artist and an activist, along with LGBTQ youth, to be heard and seen through a means of imagery and words. My “subjects” have been shot against a stark white backdrop not to single them out, but rather to eliminate environmental influence. Without a presented environment to tell their story or text to tell their tale, these people are presented as just that- people; judgment and stereotype free. Only when the subject is presented in collaboration with the subjects’ own text and handwriting do we find out their commonalities and their individual stories. Each person is given the spotlight and a chance to have voice… if nothing else, through these photographs.
This collection of photographs tells the stories of youth and identity. Adolescence is a difficult process to endure without the added hardship of societal homophobia. The discovery of sexual identity as a young adult can be both a blessing and a hurdle. This book explores the passions, confusions, prejudices, fulfillment, joys, and sorrows of growing up as a queer youth.
The purpose and importance of this book is to give a voice to an underserved group of people that are seldom heard and often silenced. The collaboration of image and accompanying text will serve to provide an outlet, show support, open minds, and help those who struggle. It will not only show unification within the LGBT community but also the commonalities across all borders regardless of age, race, gender, and sexual orientation.
I believe there is strength in numbers, and power in words, and I strive to raise awareness with this book in hopes that one day the prejudice and hate will cease to exist.
To view the complete body of work, please visit: http://www.rachelleleesmith.com/PridePage.html
Shot against a stark white background, Smith’s photographs allow her subjects to appear naturally and reveal raw emotions, without environmental influence or outside suggestion. The pictures themselves are only half of each piece. Only after the subject has written his or her personal story in the white space of his or her portrait does the completed work take shape. Rachelle Lee Smith is an award winning, nationally and internationally shown and published photographer. With a BFA in photography, Rachelle has spent the majority of her photographic career taking photographs not simply as a photographer, but also an activist. Although her subject matter varies, her innate vision to capture the life and energy of a scene takes precedence in every image.
Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus Published June 11, 2012