Aint-Bad acknowledges the beauty and celebration of Pride. We are committed to raising awareness of diversity while respecting the culture and the struggle for equality. We teamed up with Facebook to share the beautiful work of artists living and speaking their truth and sharing their vulnerability, experiences, and strength through photography. Our article features Lia Clay Miller, Rodrigo Oliveira, Kadar R. Small, DeLovie Kwagala, André Ramos-Woodard.

Lia Clay Miller is a photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. She has won a PDN Photo Annual, and is an American Photography Award recipient. She has shot for W Magazine, Interview, Aperture Magazine, The New York Times, WSJ, Luis Venegas’ Candy Magazine, and many others. Miller was also the first trans woman to shoot covers for Hearst, as well as Out Magazine. In 2019, she was an award recipient of the 2019 British Fashion Award’s New Emerging Talent. In 2020, Miller was awarded Adobe Rising Stars, as well as being a ‘zeitgeist’ in the Creative Review Photo Annual. Miller’s work depicts her subjects in heightened stylized moments often in everyday locations that you would pass on the street. While often working with members in her community, her work strives to create a vision outside the liminal spaces of identity – rather, creating a balance in an industry often populated with few narrative viewpoints.

Emerald Arguelles: How has your environment impacted your work?

Lia Clay Miller: From a literal physical sense :
I’m constantly imagining what I could photograph in everyday spaces that I pass. I think it’s a bad habit, at this point, but I think every photographer does this — every environment becomes a frame, in a sense. Sometimes it works out and I actually get to photograph what I had in mind. Other times, it’s making sense of a bunch of moving pieces and other creatives collaborating on one idea together.

From a mental state :
At this point, I reject the notion that my identity is the entirety of my work. Often, I feel the work I am given professionally can be limiting in a place where it’s just founded on identity. But I’m also aware of the subtlety in how I photograph rather than someone else. I think that there is something to say about who you are and how you seek to portray that in a photograph. There are always glimpses of the photographer in a photograph — how they frame things … my view has always been shifted towards the feminine rather than the masculine. I’ve always understood femininity better than I’ve grasped masculinity. Masculinity doesn’t really make sense to me, therefore, photographing it is always more elusive to me.

Rodrigo Oliveira is a portrait photographer based in Rio de Janeiro. His photographs illustrate the diversity of our world, exploring the ways in which humans express identities and cultures. Rodrigo is currently documenting the queer BIPOC community inhabiting the peripheries of Rio. A work that empowers a minority within minority group often marginalized, aiming to deconstruct the misrepresentation of queer bodies in the media through the expression of queer culture, gender-bending identities, and social resistance. His latest series, ‘Carioca, Negro & Queer’ is a collection of images of what he lived and experienced in his hometown over the last year. They range from photographs of a quiet afternoon with his partner to shots taken at a crazy night out in Rio.

Emerald Arguelles: While we celebrate beauty, what is the one thing you found to be inspirational while shooting?

Rodrigo Oliveira: Breaking binaries I think. I’ve always imagined the future to be non-binary, everyone wearing whatever they like. No such thing as clothes made for men or women. I imagine a place where all identities are celebrated, embraced. That’s exactly what I experience in underground LGBTQIA+ events, especially those organized by/for the black community. When I’m in these safe environments I feel completely free to project to the outside how I see myself inside and there’s no better feeling. This freedom is so inspiring, being who you want to be. That’s how I wish we could feel everywhere. 

Kadar R. Small is a 23 year old Trinidadian, Brooklyn based Photographer & Videographer. His graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising Marketing and Communications. Ever since he was a child Kadar has had a fascination for the vintage aesthetic of old footage, watching my dad’s old VHS boxing videos. This eventually brought him into creating his own recordings using VHS camcorders and later experimenting with film photography. Now Kadar specialize in creating visual projects that bring together the members of his community to celebrate what makes us unique. 

Emerald Arguelles: What advice would you give those who aren’t comfortable being themselves?

Kadar R. Small: Many different things go into truly being comfortable with yourself, but the number one thing I’ve learned is spending time by yourself and others who care about you. Spending time by yourself is essential because you need to get to know yourself. Get to know what you like, what you dislike, your dreams and passions, etc. Spending time with people who care about you is also necessary, seeing that everyone needs to feel supported by someone and have someone to turn to.    

DeLovie Kwagala is a non-binary self-taught photographer, artist and social activist currently living and working in Kampala but a citizen of the world. They have discovered their true love for art and story telling through these mediums a few years back as a collaborative collision with their passion for social activism, human rights and advocacy for womxn’s equality. Photography has been a tool and a voice for them to spread messages of awareness, especially about their own communities. DeLovie uses their projects to defy stereotypes and change perceptions. They especially enjoy exploring narratives around sexuality, beauty and gender identity both their own (harkening back to childhood) and those of other visitors and loved ones that transit in and out of their life.

Emerald Arguelles: Who or what has inspired you?

DeLovie Kwagala: To be honest, my inspiration is rooted deeply in my own experiences and those of my very collaborators. My entire being is a protest from simply being Black and Queer. To wake up alive every day in a country that despises and dehumanizes you for being you and carry on the dream of a mere hope to freedom, and for them (my collaborators) to always show up even when that hope keeps growing distant and blurrier with more homosexuality-criminalization bills; is what inspires me to keep going. Our freedom is a pain, but we must keep going, it’s either to be or not to be.

Raised in the Southern states of Tennessee and Texas, André Ramos-Woodard (they/ them/ theirs) is a contemporary artist who uses their work to emphasize the experiences of the underrepresented; celebrating the experience of marginalized peoples while accenting the repercussions of contemporary and historical discrimination. Working in a variety of media—including photography, text, and illustration—Ramos-Woodard creates collages that convey ideas of communal and personal identity centralized within internal conflicts. They are influenced by their direct experience with life as being queer and African American, both of which are obvious targets for discrimination. Focusing on Black liberation, queer justice, and the reality of mental health, Ramos-Woodard works to amplify repressed voices and bring power to the people. Ramos-Woodard received their BFA from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and their MFA at The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Emerald Arguelles: What are you most proud of?

André Ramos-Woodard: To be blunt, I am most proud of existing. I know that sounds cliché as hell, but for what I’m talking about I really don’t think there’s a better way of putting it.

I live in a society that was not built for me. I’m Black, I’m non-binary, and I’m queer, which means I don’t even have to do things that are blatantly pro-Black or pro-LGBTQIA+ to fight back against the system; just the fact that I walk down the streets as a marginalized person with my head held high is an act of resistance, ya know? Regardless of outside perspectives and expectations placed upon me, I will continue to unapologetically be me. I will keep learning how to exist in the ways that make me happiest. That ain’t always easy–that’s why I’m proud of it. 

Check out the individual artists work.

Lia Clay Miller, Rodrigo Oliveira, Kadar R. Small, DeLovie Kwagala, André Ramos-Woodard.