Resting by Tawny Chatmon
The Redemption / Resting by Tawny Chatmon

February is Black History Month, so we’ve taken the opportunity to profile some of our favorite Black photographers on Instagram. The artists featured below are masters of their trade. Their Instagram profiles are filled with visually striking imagery, from captivating portraits to surrealist visual art. 

Here are 10 Black photographers on Instagram you should be following.

Tawny Chatmon


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Tawny Chatmon (@tawnychatmon) is a self-taught photographer and visual artist based in Maryland. Her Instagram grid is filled with uniquely crafted portraits, mostly of children. More than photographs, each image is layered with patterns and textures that evoke Chatmon’s signature style. 

“Each portrait usually begins as someone that I am close to in some way,” Chatmon writes on her website. “By looking outside of traditional photography methods, and experimenting with various art practices, I am able to transform each piece into a new expression.”

Chatmon’s work is wholly original, yet her photos feel classic and timeless. In a statement on her website, Chatmon explains that she draws inspiration from artwork of the 19th century. However, Chatmon subverts the art from that time period by “bringing to the forefront faces that were often under-celebrated in this style of work.” 

“The primary theme that drives my art practice today is celebrating the beauty of black childhood.” 

Arielle Bobb-Willis

Originally from New York City but now based in Los Angeles, photographer Arielle Bobb-Willis (@ariellebobbwillis) is a nomadic artist. She loves travelling across the US, capturing the people she meets in abstract, brightly colored portraits. In most of her photos, the subject is dressed in vivid colors and twisting their body in an unusual pose, their face obscured or hidden.

Bobb-Willis developed her unique style in part due to depression. Suffering from the disease from an early age, Bobb-Willis found photography to be a therapeutic exercise. On her website, she explains that photographing people in “compromising and disjointed positions” highlights the complexities of life.  Meanwhile, the use of bright colors “speaks to a desire to claim power and joy in moments of sadness, confusion or confinement.” 

Unsurprisingly, Bobb-Willis’ visually arresting style has captured widespread attention. In 2020, she photographed musicians Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, and Lil Nas X for the cover of New York Times magazine. Like her auspicious celebrity subjects, Bobb-Willis is in her twenties and has already built an incredibly mature body of work. We can’t wait to follow along and see what she does next. 

Quil Lemons

Quil Lemons (@quillemons) is another early achiever. At 23 years old, the New York-based photographer is the youngest photographer to ever shoot a cover for Vanity Fair. The photograph, a commanding portrait of Billie Eilish, perfectly encapsulates Lemons’ style. 

Lemons shoots exclusively on film, and his portraits feel authentically intimate. In his grid you’ll find stunning pictures of artists including Spike Lee, Chloe X Halle, Ian Iasiah, and Kari Faux, along with work he’s created for brands like Gucci, Tiffany’s, Urban Outfitters, and Levi’s. 

Lemons grew up in south Philadelphia, and got his start by photographing musicians performing in the city. He attracted public attention in 2017 with a personal project called Glitterboy, inspired by musician Frank Ocean. The compelling photo series featured men of color wearing glitter, challenging stereotypes about Black masculinity. 

Masculinity and race continue to be strong themes in Lemons’ work. In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Lemons discussed the reflection of the Black experience in his work. “I’m conveying my version of Blackness and how I’ve come to understand that.” 

Elise Swopes


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Elise Swopes (@swopes) is a unique blend of business woman and visual artist. An entreprenartist, if you will. Her hustle first started in the late nineties, when Swopes created a website that taught people how to build their own websites. She was in the sixth grade. As it turns out, empowering and inspiring others to create art would become a recurring theme in her career.

Swopes unassumingly joined Instagram in 2011 and started photographing the Chicago skyline on a broken iPhone 4. Eventually she started using her self-taught design skills to transform the photos into surrealist landscapes. Her unique visuals quickly garnered attention, and Swopes became an Instagram influencer. Soon enough she was working with major brands including McDonalds, Kellogg’s, UNIQLO, and Casamigos. 

Today, Swopes continues to post fascinating visuals on Instagram that she originally captured on her iPhone. However, she also hosts a podcast, recently released her own photo-editing app, and regularly works with brands like Adobe and Apple to inspire new artists to start creating. 

Follow Swopes on Instagram for regular doses of creativity and inspiration in your feed. If you’re not convinced yet, check out her TEDx Talk about being a child of the internet. Swopes is a natural-born storyteller.

Cam Hicks


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Cam Hicks (@camhicks_) is another film photographer that has been embraced by the fashion world. His ethereal imagery has a gritty yet sophisticated look and feel. The New York based photographer also employs a vast color palette, with photos varying from dark and shadowy to vibrantly bright. 

Just 5 years ago, Hicks was living in Virginia and working in IT. After teaching himself the basics of photography online, Hicks started shooting, and his work quickly started attracting fans. Since then, he’s worked with brands like Louis Vutton, Nike, and Adidas, and recently released his own photo memoir, For The Porch

Speaking to i-D about the book, Hicks describes himself as a “really emotional person,” and says that his photos almost always reflect “my feelings and emotions at that given time.” Since writing the book, he’s dialed back attempts to constantly maintain a brand persona on Instagram. The result is more personal, authentic content that reflects Hicks’ true self. 

Buy Hicks’ memoir to learn about his journey so far, and follow him on Instagram to see what comes next for the talented artist.

Jessica Pettway


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Jessica Pettway (@jesspettway) is another photographer with a powerful and unique visual style. Every one of her bright, vividly colored images is brimming with energy.  It doesn’t matter if her subject is a flower arrangement or a can of Tecate, seeing one of her posts in your feed will immediately brighten your day. 

The Brooklyn-based still-life photographer is an Adobe stock contributor, and has worked for brands including Apple, Uber, and Unilever. However, some of Pettway’s best work is photos of food and drink. Perhaps because a love of food feels organically infused into every image.

Pettway’s vibrant, often abstract style also means she depicts food as you’ve never seen it before. Pizza riding on roller skates. A packet of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos transformed into a vase. Her photos will make you salivate, even as you question what you’re seeing.

Pettway’s style is consistent, yet every post feels unique and original. If your feed needs some more color and creativity, you won’t regret following @jesspettway. 

Miranda Barnes


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Miranda Barnes (@mirandabarnes) is a Caribbean American photographer that lives between Austin, Texas and New York. A captivating blend of artist and documentarian, her gorgeous film photography includes intimate portraits and exquisite glimpses into daily American life. 

In a guest post for Huck Magazine, Barnes gives credit to platforms like Instagram for making photography more accessible and inclusive for young, Black, female photographers. She got her start by sharing photos to Instagram and Tumblr. Since then, she’s produced work for the New York Times, The Atlantic, and Vanity Fair. That’s in addition to her work for brands like Apple, Adidas, Calvin Klein, and Leica.

Telling Black stories and challenging racial stereotypes is integral to Barnes’ work. Her first commission for the New York Times saw her travel to Memphis to cover the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Similar projects she’s contributed to prove she has a lot to be proud of as both an artist and an activist. 

Dana Scruggs


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Dana Scruggs (@danascruggs) is another incredible artist and activist breaking glass ceilings. In 2018, she was the first Black female photographer to shoot for ESPN’s Body Issue. In January 2019, Scruggs made history again as the first Black person to shoot the cover for Rolling Stone

Originally from the southside of Chicago, Scruggs has worked as a photographer and director in New York City for most of the last decade. While she’s seen success in recent years, she writes honestly on Instagram about the challenges she faced. 

“There was a time, when I first moved to NY, that I needed new shoes and could only afford $2.50 knock off Keds at Kmart.” Scruggs writes as part of the caption for a photo she shot for Refinery29. “For most people it takes a painful amount of sacrifice to even begin to garner success… Don’t give up.”

Scruggs regularly posts stunning imagery on Instagram, from celebrity portraits to powerful explorations of the human form. However, it’s her raw, inspiring captions that make Scruggs a photographer worth following on Instagram. 

“Everything that I’ve gone through, my struggles and my highs, has lead me to being the person and the Artist that I am today. I wouldn’t trade any part of my journey.”

Micaiah Carter


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Photographer Micaiah Carter (@micaiahcarter) lives between Brooklyn and Los Angeles, and has made a name for himself shooting for brands like Apple, Nike, Pepsi, and Netflix. He’s also worked for publications including Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Vogue, and Vice.  His grid is filled with masterful portraits of celebrities and compelling fashion photography.

Warmth is an important component of Carter’s visual language. In an interview with Emmazed, he explains that growing up in the Mojave Desert had a strong impact on the way he plays with light in his work. Warm tones have also helped him explore representations of Black people that have been absent in mainstream photography in the past.  “I try to have this color palette that allows all these types of beautiful, brown types of skin to glow.“

While the Black experience is currently being explored in the photography world more than ever before, Carter is cautious of posturing. “I don’t think Blackness should feel like a ‘trend’,” he tells Emmazed. “I want to make something timeless, something that can stand the test of times and make the viewer wonder when this was taken.” 

Follow @micaiahcarter for warm, colorful, classic-feeling photography that powerfully explores Black identity. 

Adrienne Raquel


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Adrienne Raquel (@adrienneraquel) is New York based photographer and art director. Combining a bright color palette with soft lighting,  Raquel creates dazzling, retro-esque visuals that ooze with nostalgia. Motifs of Blackness and femininity are intrinsic to her work. 

Raquel’s unique visual style has been seized upon by the fashion world. She’s shot for publications including Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, and CR Fashion Book, and worked with brands including GANNI, Dior Beauty, and Saks Fifth Avenue. In 2018, Raquel photographed the February cover of Nylon, a special Black History Month edition.  In 2019, she was crowned the Ambassador of Aesthetics for Reebok’s Club C line of sneakers.

It’s impossible not to be enchanted by Raquel’s photography. Her grid glimmers with stylish, soulful imagery that makes it clear why she’s a highly-sought photographer and art director. Her mission to make fashion photography more inclusive for black women – in front of and behind the camera – makes her work all the more meaningful. 


While that concludes our list of 10 Black photographers on Instagram you should be following, there are countless more talented Black artists that deserve your attention. 

Following an artist on Instagram is also just one, small way you can show your support. This Black History Month, we encourage you to look for other ways you can champion the Black artists in your community. 



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