Daily Archives April 15, 2020

Voice & Representation

Who I Am

My name is Idris Talib Solomon. I am a Brooklyn native. I am a creative director, photographer, filmmaker and podcaster. I am a self-taught artist. One thing I learned in school is that I don’t learn the way everyone else does. I’ve always needed to be hands on and engaged in a project so I can make mistakes. Mistakes have always birthed new lessons for me in unorthodox ways; they weaken the grip of fear.

My Photo Journey

I’ve worked as an art director in several advertising agencies throughout New York City. Often, I’ve been the only black art director in the office. There is a pressure that comes with being “the only.”

When I decided to pursue a certificate in photography I recognized a similar pattern. I was the only Black student in my cohort. My instructors never shared the work of photographers who looked like me. The photographers I learned about were all talented. I learned a lot in the program. At the same time, I questioned why I didn’t see myself reflected in the curriculum. This highlighted the importance of representation. It showed me how important it is to have a voice.

I decided that I would use my art to document stories in the Black community that go unnoticed.

Finding My Voice

My first photography project focused on The Dance Theatre of Harlem. This is a ballet school created for young black and brown dancers. I began to photograph this project through an invitation from a college friend. She saw photos of mine on Facebook and invited me to photograph an event.

When I arrived, I wandered backstage, down corridors and staircases. I thought the world happening backstage was more interesting than the performances. I offered the school my photos in return for access to the school.