Feminine and Muslim Identity Through Photo with Bobby Rogers
Bobby Rogers ay or may not have 99 problems but accolades ain’t one. A visual artist and the official photographer of the world-renowned Walker Art Center, Rogers’ work has been featured and reviewed by Apple, PAPER magazine, City Pages, the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and Vice—and has been named by Huffington Post as 25 "Muslims Breaking Barriers and Lighting Up the World.”
Through stunningly crisps portraits, Rogers navigates the “aesthetics of street culture and its influence on high fashion” and investigates “revolutionary ideologies reshaping the global conscious through Black culture.”
But what is of primary importance is Rogers’ identity as a Black Muslim, and assuring that storytelling does not sideline a population thick and rich within American culture. Through the 2016 #BeingBlackAndMuslim, Rogers found comments like “being erased from conversations on Islam and Blackness” and “having to recite a verse from the Quran to non-Black Muslims to prove that you’re Muslim.” Through his Being Black and Muslim Photo Series, he says, “I wanted to humanize one of the most influential communities in the world, ... one of the most marginalized communities."
Apart from the valuable social justice work being done in service of Black Muslim identity, Rogers’ high contrast, color-fueled story telling, and a close study of facial structures and textures is what drew us to call him our Muse. We ask our muses to highlight the stories attached to their images as a means to connect the story to the visual. For his photo titled, “To be so bright”—which is, ironically in black and white—Rogers walked us through the evolution of the image:
“I often look to poetry as inspiration and an avenue of translating my work. When I was young I’d write poetry as a way of releasing stress and understanding emotion. I still engage the poet within through my titles and captions. This portrait is from a photo-editorial for Suited Magazine. With this portrait my goal was to capture the raw humanity of the subject and the richness of her being. The way I chose to do this was adding organic elements that we often attribute to beauty in nature, to compliment the natural beauty of the subject.: ‘How a shadow shines, to be so bright.’”