For my first experiment, I chose to reimagine my origin piece as a photo essay. In order to understand photo essays as a genre, one of the examples I used was Angelica Dass’s “Humanæ.”
Angelica Dass is a self-described photographer. However, much of her work acts as a sort of activism. Because she assembles her photos in collections with some text, I consider her a photo essayist in this instance.
I think much of Dass’ research is borne out of her own experiences as a black person who is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and currently lives in Madrid, Spain. This photo essay is a commentary on how small differences in skin tone are, even while they are the basis for harmful stereotypes and false images. I imagine that her experience as a person of color who lives in places primarily inhabited by people of color, she is able to see how little these differences actually are. I think she is commenting on how we think about race, particularly in the United States and other countries with white majorities.
Her photographs are most often published in art museums as a traveling exhibits, but the essay I analyzed was actually published on a Tumblr site. Publishing in art museums obviously has more barriers to publishing than a Tumblr site, but her art clearly demonstrates a lot of work prior to publishing. Once she has an idea, she has to find willing subjects. She probably has to find studio space and technical tools to make her idea happen. Then, she has to do a lot of post-processing work to the images. In “Humanæ,” she used the color matching software Pantone to match skin tones with backgrounds.
As for getting paid, I assume she is paid by the art museums in which her work appears. However, I do not know how she is paid for her online work. From what I can tell, there are no ads or paywalls for her work. Potentially, her online work is a way for her to get exposure to promote her work to art museums that will pay her. It also does not seem like she does private photography for people, so there is no income on that end either. According to her website, she does a great deal of public speaking, so I am guessing this is her primary source of income as she presents on her artwork to various companies and nonprofits.