What do you think of when you hear Kodak? Hopefully, photography. Kodak first sold products designed for the printing industry in 1912. During the 1950s and 1960s, they helped with the color revolution of magazines. However, just 80 years ago film only complemented very few shades leaving the images of the past not very flattering. The issue appeared to be about race, even though some argued the fact that companies catered to their consumer base. This history leads us to her story.
Taylor Baldwin is a phenomenal self-assured lifestyle photographer. She began as many of us do, on another path. She was a business major and fell in love with a camera that was gifted to her. It opened her eyes to who she was and how to express herself creatively. She decided to change her major to fine arts and begin her new journey.
"It’s weird how things work where you're in high school and someone is telling you what to do. It’s like do this, do that, do it this way. Can I go to the bathroom? Can I do this? Can I do that? And then you graduate and you’re thrown somewhere and asked “what do you want to do?”"
Being a mother and choosing to be an entrepreneur, of course, there were reservations. She chose to say yes. Taylor said yes to every gig offered and every request for a photographer. There were wedding assignments, events, birthdays, you name it, she shot it. Fortunately, this route gave her clarity and pushed this young introvert into an unapologetic extrovert.
Motivated by her experience from an internship, Taylor began to evaluate what she enjoyed most about photography. She felt that the black woman was underappreciated and underrepresented. She found herself teetering on the idea of making it known that she only wanted to photograph black women. However, making that decision was a scary thing. What will others think? She reflected on how many times she was in a book store or walked past a newsstand and rarely saw a woman that looked like her on more than one or two magazine or book covers. With the advice from a mentor and the courage to finally do what she loved, she would now unapologetically represent the black woman.
"I just shoot black women. That’s my thing. So the more specific I was getting the more successful I would get. There was no confusion as to what THIS GIRL DOES. So it would help me market myself and put myself out there more because I do this one thing. I shoot black women."
Was she pushing the envelope? Is this allowed? Would this career move affect her in a negative way? What about Kodak? Taylor reminds us that just a short time ago, the film did not compliment the black woman. The imagery and the color development were not there. Was it intentional? This will never be confirmed. However, who photographers may cater to may not be stated but implied. Your work becomes your resume and communicates to your audience what you prefer.
Taylor is inspired by Denisse Myrick (@chasingdenisse). She is a published photographer that is well known for her street-style photography. Taylor appreciates her style and notices that people are usually motivated by photographers from centuries ago. Another favorite of hers is Carrie Mae Weems, a black photographer who combined photography with textures and audio. Her imagery can be found in over 50 exhibitions across the globe.
Taylor Baldwin is just beginning her legacy. She continues to take steps to grow and build for the future. Looking forward to early retirement, she shares with Coffea magazine her plans to build a gallery of sorts that allows creatives of all forms to share their gifts with one another. We will be cheering her on and wait patiently to see what else she has up her sleeve.
To book and check out all that is Taylor Baldwin, visit her on her website, www.mamaphotog.com. You can also follow her on social media at @mama.photog. Taylor’s beautiful work has also graced the pages of Essence Magazine and has been featured on different digital platforms like BET, Refinery29, XOnecole, ASOS, Time magazine, and many others.
A brief history of color photography reveals an obvious but unsettling reality about human bias. Maz Ali ; https://www.upworthy.com/a-brief-history-of-color-photography-reveals-an-obvious-but-unsettling-reality-about-human-bias