Here’s what our founder and co-director, Jamaica Gilmer, took away from her time with Marleigh during their photo shoot for #theblackgirltriptych!
One of the most memorable moments I had returning back to doing BGT photo shoots was with Marleigh. I did this process for years and years, then I stopped—instead taking the opportunity to train other Black women to do the work. But my time with Marleigh marked me the moment I picked my camera back up to create a Black Girl Triptych. I was nerve wrecked the whole morning—just kind of desperate to see the shot that would do her interviews justice. So, I arrive and Marleigh is almost ready. She was getting her hair done in this adorable, meticulous style. Her outfit matched just what her family described of her: Marleigh is fashion forward. Upstairs we went to get started, her brother Oliver joining us for the photo shoots. The warm up shots were fun, but not what I needed. About 15 shots in we are all getting comfortable with only a few distractions. But eventually, we hit a rhythm. So I call out “ok! let’s go to another room to dance!”. Off we go again and Oliver decides the lights need to be out, or at least occasionally blinking. And I agree because clearly, that will make the party better. They do their thing and I adjust my light in the camera so I don’t interrupt the world they just created. Then it happens. THE shot. Marleigh was feelin’ that thing, singing and dancing hard as Oliver danced around the room. I wish I could remember what she was singing, but I remember what I saw. She threw her fists in the air, threw her hip to the side, and belted a note like the world was her stage.
And I just thought, Marleigh is powerful and free.
Photo Credit: John Jackson for The Beautiful Project