Cammie Nicole premiered “Queer Black Love: A Photo Series” at a gallery and reception on Friday night.
“I knew that I wanted the pictures to be intimate and not just focused on the faces. I wanted to capture handholding, legs intertwined and things like that,” she said.
The UW-Madison Gender and Sexuality Campus Center (GSCC) hosted the event on UW-Madison’s campus on the second to last day of Black History Month. The exhibition of photos captures some of the most private moments between partners and their loved ones. “Queer Black Love: A Photo Series” began after Nicole posted a solicitation for Black couples on her Facebook page.
“It was kind of random. I originally just wanted to do a Black love photo series and it was inclusive to all gender loving family, non-exclusive, hetero, queer and it just ended up being super queer,” she said.
All of the couples featured are members of Madison’s Black LGBTQ+ community. Each of them invited Nicole into their homes and allowed her to take photos of them together. Some of them attended the reception and purchased the artwork.
“It was more awkward for my partner but I like cameras,” participant Dupreé Armon said.
Nicole said she had never actually met Armon prior to this experience. She reached out to him on Instagram asking if he and his partner would participate. Armon and his partner are featured in the series embracing each other as one holds the other from behind.
“I just try to stay out of my own way when I’m behind the lens,” Nicole said.
At the reception, she thanked other couples for participating; DeDe Williams and Amanda Clark, Dupreé Armon and Max, Montell Ross and his partner and local activists Alix Shabazz and T.S. Banks. Nicole and her partner Duke Virginia also are featured in the series.
“I don’t really consider myself a professional photographer. I kind of just pick up the camera and click,” she said.
However, Nicole is an artist. Virginia, a documentary photographer and videographer from Detroit, loaned Nicole the camera she used to complete the series. Nicole also thanked her partner for supporting her vision throughout the process.
She said this experience taught her a lot about the work behind putting together a body of work. Nicole said editing was one of the most intense aspects. She explained the conscious decisions she made for lighting in some of her photos.
Nicole said she based edits on how pictures made her feel. Whether she went for a more intimate vibe determined how dark or how light the image was. She also wanted to capture raw authentic moments between real people.
“I think representation is very important for everyone no matter what your body looks like,” she said.
She intended the series to capture diverse body types. She said it did not matter if participants have rolls or cellulite. She also wanted it to be “black blackity black.”
Nicole said she plans to continue to host the images on her website, she still has some of them for sale. Nicole said she wanted to honor the people in her lives in that way so she captured genuine emotions. She photographed Queer love and Queer life.