Ejatu Shaw on Black joy and her work of representation and authenticity

Photographer Ejatu Shaw spoke to It’s Nice That about her work and process. She was recently received a commission from the Adobe Stock Artist Development Fund and created a collection centred on Black people and their joy in everyday life:

In Ejatu’s commissioned work, you’ll see Black children and families enjoying their time together — playing basketball, roller skating, laughing, hugging. Not only is the work celebratory and relatable, it’s also helping to address the lack of representation in media. “It’s so important to myself and many other Black visual artists that we continue to represent ourselves in a way that is relatable, ethical and inspirational,” she explains. “We want to positively contribute to visual history and bypass traditional modes of representation that were often voyeuristic or fetishising.”

When approaching her commission, Ejatu found guidance in Adobe Stock Advocates creative briefs — including Identity and GenderCelebration of Self and Beliefs and Rituals — all of which were crafted to support artists like her, help them become more culturally aware and help them portray individuals and communities accurately. She says the briefs also helped her push her practice into the realms of lifestyle and documentary photography. “I’ve really enjoyed photographing people in their homes, artists in their studies and in general capturing the pride that individuals have in their spaces.”

More on Black love, joy, and positive representation: I’ve loved seeing Black people rollerskating everywhere and love from a Black perspective.

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