Pride Month isn’t over yet, and Luke Gilford is ending the month on a high note.
The famed photographer and director has teamed up with three women to celebrate them and provide a way to directly support them on their journey. Working with Pierre Hommes, Raven Valentine, and Bailey Stiles, Gilford created this personal photography project to showcase the beauty and power of these three women while also providing a direct financial return for each of them.
The series began with Raven, who had asked Gilford to photograph her prior to her facial feminization surgery.
“I was so honored to be part of such a deeply personal process for her,” Gilford said. “Every day on social media we are all trading on these self-constructed, idealized versions of ourselves, so I thought it was really beautiful that she wanted to artfully document herself at this stage in her transition.”
One of the LGBTQ+ community’s biggest concerns with Pride Month is the commercialization of Pride from corporations and rainbow-washing. Gilford wanted to support these three women directly rather than through organizations or companies.
“Raven was also in the process of raising funds for her surgery and recovery through GoFundMe, and we were simultaneously in the midst of Pride month with so much corporate virtue signaling. Pride was something that trans women of color just like Raven fought and were jailed for — yet this part of the community remains the most marginalized and vulnerable,” Gilford said.
So, Gilford and Raven decided to include Pierre and Bailey, their friends and artists they admire, to sell prints from their shoot with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to the subjects to provide direct aid and support.
“It’s clear that direct aid and support for those most vulnerable remains the most impactful way to celebrate how far we’ve come, and how far we have left to go,” Gilford said.
Gilford is known for displaying a strong intimacy with his subjects — he’s worked with Lil Nas X, Bella Hadid, Paris Hilton, and Jane Fonda, just to name a few, and this shoot was no different. Gilford worked directly with the talent to allow themselves to shine through on this shoot. The shoot began at his home to help create trust and comfort among everyone, something that’s important to him in every shoot and was easy to achieve by letting everyone get to know each other.
“The process for this project is one of my favorite ways of working, which is directly with the talent — giving them agency and power to collaborate on every detail of their own representation,” Gilford said. “We kept the crew very small and started the shoot at my house with portraits on backdrops in my garage. I also tried to make sure each of them felt taken care of and supported before, during, and after the shoot. This environment helped us cultivate an authentic sense of intimacy and trust.”
To deepen that sense of trust, Raven, Bailey, and Pierre also all had full control of their image: they did their own hair, makeup, and styling themselves. Raven and Pierre wore No Sesso, a Los Angeles-based Black female-owned and operated fashion brand where Pierre is a co-founder and designer, while Bailey wore her own Bcalla piece.
Just because Pride Month is coming to an end doesn’t mean that the love and support for the cause should be abandoned when July 1 begins. Though we may see fewer rainbow flags and companies removing their rainbow logos, the LGBTQ+ community will still need that allyship, and that’s what Gilford aimed to focus on through this shoot.
“At this particular moment I think Pride means sharing resources, taking care of our mental, physical and spiritual health, listening to our elders and their stories, choosing when and how we interact with corporations, and celebrating how far we’ve come — but also recognizing how far we have left to go,” Gilford said.
Gilford hopes for a more inclusive future — he believes there’s still a lot to learn within the LGBTQ+ community and outside of it. This project was a way for him to celebrate Pride in an inclusive, supportive, and impactful way.
“As we look to the future I would love to see the queer community embracing inclusivity and intersectionality more deeply. We can still be incredibly tribal when it comes to groups within the community, and we all have so much to learn from one another. I would love to see queer people lifting each other up more than tearing each other down, because it makes everyone more powerful,” Gilford said. “I would love to see the community bonding and building intimacy in more ways that don’t center around alcohol or sex. For me this project was an inspiring example of the beauty and power in that kind of celebration.”
Each image is offered as a signed, limited edition C print for on Luke Gilford’s website. 100 percent of the proceeds from each print will go back to Raven, Bailey, and Pierre.END
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createdAt:Wed, 30 Jun 2021 17:39:55 +0000
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