The Importance of Queer Photographers
Why are queer photographers important? Photography plays a fundamental role as a visual account of human existence – photographs are part of our history. Through them, trends, stories, and much more are communicated.
But on this occasion, we want to specifically discuss photography and its roles in LGBTQIA+ identity.
Since photographers are humanity’s storytellers, it’s crucial that they gather views from every angle of society. It’s vital to reveal the world through windows (photographs) into realities that are similar to our own and to those that are very different. Some photos will be easy to relate to – those you identify with – and others will offer you a glimpse of something completely different.
Perhaps the most valuable thing about queer photographers is that they represent marginalized sections of society. But all people and communities deserve to be seen and appreciated.
In this collection, we share artists who are honest, authentic, and a little different, as well as with a unique photographic eye. For all of them, their LGBT identity has shaped their growth in the field of photography and art. It’s fascinating to see how their personalities are reflected in the images they capture.
This is by no means a complete list – it’s simply a place you can start your exploration from.
Nan Goldin was a pioneer of queer photography in the 1970s and 1980s. Her photographs are provocative and unforgettable and are still considered important in the photography of that time. Nan Goldin’s style involved capturing the real lives of queer people, representing intimate and real moments of the community of which she was a part. Today she’s considered an icon of photography.
Herbert List was a photographer who worked for fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, among others. His most famous photographs are those of the male body with a strong element of homo-eroticism. He used the Greco-Roman style and photographed men as if they were marble sculptures to fill an image with eroticism without falling into vulgarity. Herbert List’s images were trend-setting and are still a source of inspiration for today’s fashion photography.
Diana Davies was extremely important during the Stonewall Inn era, when the LGBT liberation movement intensified. Her photographs made history and are still used to represent the history of Pride Month. She not only captured and immortalized the facade of the Stonewall Inn, but also the people who went there in search of an inclusive community.
Gianfranco Briceño is a Peruvian-born, Brazilian-based queer photographer and ceramicist. His photographs clearly show inspiration from his predecessors like Herbert List, mostly in his images of the male body. On his Instagram profile he combines his ceramic pieces with photography.
Mengwen Cao is part of Authority Collective, a photography and visual arts group that’s well worth following. On their Instagram profile, Mengwen presents a mix of personal work together with some of their photography work commissioned for magazine features. They have a variety of styles and it’s worth following their profile to see how they evolve.
Rodrigo Oliveira captures the experiences of the marginalized queer community in Rio de Janeiro. His lens immortalizes real stories of the LGBT community in his city and its suburbs. In his art, he seeks to deconstruct the negative representation of Black, queer and trans people. For him, the most important thing is to increase the visibility of these communities until they’re no longer seen as queer.
Laurence Philomene is a Canadian trans, non-binary photographer. Their colorful vision of the world around them is a great inspiration to their followers, whether photographers or not. They have participated in group and solo exhibitions and Puberty, the book about their transition, was released this year.
Campbell Addy is a queer Black photographer with a long history in the fashion world. His photographs have appeared in Vogue UK for many, many years. His anthology Feeling Seen features photos of his work and of his life. The pages tell stories of how before Addy’s lens, his subjects felt seen for the first time.
Isaac Flores is a photographer from Barcelona who portrays drag queens in his city and internationally. He won the Premi Joves Fotogràfs de Catalunya award in 2021 and his photographs have been collected in a book called Herencia. He also photographed the participants of RuPaul’s Drag Race when they were in Spain.
Explore queer photography on Freepik
If you’re looking for photographs for your Pride Month campaigns or at any other time of the year, on Freepik you’ll find any number of images, illustrations and graphics to use in your designs.
Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride with Freepik this year.