February is LGBTQ+ History Month. For those within the queer community, it offers a chance to look back and reflect on how far gay rights have come since the Stonewall riots in 1969 and the opportunity to look forward and push for equality everywhere. It’s also a time where cisgender heterosexuals can learn about and recognize the struggles and marginalization faced by the LGBT community, and how they can be better allies.
Queer photography offers an insight into the vibrant, flamboyant but often isolating world of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer / questioning, "plus" other sexual identities) community, and presents an art form that is captivating, emotionally driven and highly important.
One of the biggest hopes of almost all queer photographers is that their work photographing this community will continue to make it more acceptable, so that LGBTQ+ people feel they can navigate the world with the same support, opportunities and freedoms as straight, cisgender people. The queer community has always been at the forefront of cultural movements, may that be in art, music or fashion, and should be celebrated for its differences – not marginalized for them.
Over the last ten years significant progress has been made, particularly when it comes to same-sex marriage, but still more can be done to make our LGBTQ+ friends feel included. Until these communities feel that they can exist in the world with the same opportunities for love, friendship, individuality and expression, more has to be done to reach equality.
In celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month, we have selected 10 of our favorite queer photographers that you should follow on Instagram. They act as a voice for those members of the queer community who can’t speak up, and actively promote acceptance and equality for the LGBTQIA+ community.
In so many countries around the world, queer individuals face discrimination, segregation, criminal charges or even the death penalty – just for expressing themselves. Only by better educating ourselves and others and by celebrating the work of people who advocate for this community can we work towards a brighter, more inclusive future.
Born and raised in the North of England, Heather Glazzard (opens in new tab) is now based in London as a creative director and photographer. As an advocate for the trans and queer community, Heather's photography combines fashion, fetish and film to create striking images that express the creativity of this forward-thinking community. Their work has been featured in Vice, Vogue, Hunger, Dazed and i-D, and alongside their commissions they also work on personal projects exploring relationships and identity.
Emil Lombardo (opens in new tab) is an Argentinian-born, London-based, self-taught portrait photographer. Before moving to the UK, Emil studied for an MSc in Computer Graphics at Université Pierre et Marie Curie. Emil's work evolves around body politics and gender, representation and visibility of dissident identities. Many of Emil's photos are taken using a large format camera, which enables him time to develop a relationship with the people he's shooting. His photography works as a practice for exploring his own gender identity and sexuality, as well as documenting other people's journeys.
Since their teenage years, Laurence Philomene (opens in new tab) has used photography as a practice in which to experiment with and document identity as expressed through gender. A non-binary artist and photographer based in Montreal, Canada, Laurence's work celebrates trans existence and studies identity through highly saturated, cinematic yet vulnerable imagery. Laurence has created commissions for Apple, Netflix, Converse and VSCO, and in 2020 was the recipient of the Getty Images Creatives in Quarantine Bursary.
Sara Hini (opens in new tab) is a Berber Algerian photographer based in Montreal, Canada who specializes in images that explore diversity, identity, intimate and vulnerability through, raw, powerful and tender images. Identifying as she/her, Sara wants her work to open up conversation about these important topics, believing there is no right or wrong way to exist in the same way there is no right or wrong body or sexuality. Sara co-created and directed The Womanhood Project: an award-winning photography series and platform exploring the complex issued and taboos related to womanhood. The project was feature in Vogue Italy, Elle Quebec, iD-Vice and in 2021 was exhibited at The National Museum of Fine Art of Quebec.
Chris Phillips is a Berlin-based photographer whose photography includes intimate self-portraits as well as studies of the male form, both in the studio and in nature. Often pictured wearing anything from latex to period ball gowns or even nothing at all, Chris' style blurs the line between masc and femme. Chris is involved with Pornceptual, an Instagram page and magazine dedicated to alternative art nude, as well as Whole, an electronic music and camping festival featuring a cross-section of Berlin's queer scene where self-expression is paramount.
With a background in fine art, fashion photography and film directing, Rob Woodcox (opens in new tab) aims to open up conversations surrounding the US foster system, queer identity, body neutrality, race equality and environmental justice through his photographic practice. Living between Mexico and the US, Rob's "coming out" experience in 2013 is what drove him to pursue a full-time career in photography. He hopes that by advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, he can help educate people into accepting others regardless of gender identity or sexuality. Rob has taught thousands of students all over the world, his work has been published in various major publications and in 2020 he released his first coffee table book, Bodies of Light.
Emma Wondra (opens in new tab) is a non-binary, queer photographer based in Portland, Oregon. Often found photographing kink and boudoir, Emma's work demonstrates the vulnerability of humans in their creation of raw and emotive images. They enjoy shooting at their home studio, in their garden and incorporate lots of props such as mirrors, plants, candles and curtains in their work. Creating decadent photo series is Emma's passion and through their creative style their work has been featured in the likes of Vogue Italia, GirlGaze, Marie Claire and Femme Rebelle Magazine.
Vic Lentaigne (opens in new tab) has been hooked on photography since the age of 14, as she told It's Nice That (opens in new tab) in a 2020 interview, and was lucky enough to gain regular access to a darkroom, which meant she could freely develop her work. Based in London, Vic documents the queer community through intimate portraits that convey the emotion, beauty and strength these people have. She has worked with major brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hunger Magazine and Dickies for a Pride campaign. Vic's photography explores gender fluidity, queerness, identity and self-expression, but in a way that is tender and compassionate.
"I started photographing within the queer community when I first became totally immersed in it, this was also my first experience with photography, in London around the beginning of 2018. I was quite young at the time and being around people who were able to self-actualize in a way that queer people can do when they exist safely within a community triggered a response in me. One of my personal responses was to pick up a camera. My experience of queerness is kind of complex. I think recently it became a word that has lost a lot of meaning. Personally, it has nothing to do with unfettered hedonism. For me being queer is about community and supporting one another, regardless of labels. Documentation is very important to me. I look back at pictures of queer people in communities in the past and it gives you a sense of belonging that the world doesn't really give to people that don't conform. So I hope my work can pass this on to people in the future."
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