Celebrating LGBTQ+ Creatives: Spotlighting 10 Proud VoicesJune 9th, 2023
At Zenfolio and Format, we believe creative and personal expression is a necessity. It helps progress new and diverse ideas and helps us connect and understand one another. It’s hard to imagine, let alone see and experience, a reality where some don’t feel safe or able to express themselves.
This June, in the spirit of our strong foundation of inclusivity and diversity—we celebrate and hold space for our employees, our members, and the larger creative community, no matter where they are in their journey of personal and creative expression.
While it’s important to celebrate and support our queer community each and every day, Pride is an important time to recommit to the fight for the rights, contributions and visibility of our LGBTQ+ community; after all the origins of Pride are protest!
Pride honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in NYC. The riots were sparked by a police raid of a gay club called the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village on June 28th, 1969. Harassment and discrimination conducted by the NYC police led to a week’s worth of protests and galvanized a movement for gay rights. The first gay pride parade in America was subsequently held on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
The origins of Pride help ground us in the fight for LGBTQ+ visibility then, and now—especially amidst the intolerance and violence this community continues to face.
Our aspiration at Zenfolio and Format is to create opportunities for creators to tell their stories, to ensure as many perspectives as possible are seen and heard, and foster a more vibrant and accepting space for all. To mark Pride Month 2023 we are proud to spotlight and uplift the voices of these 10 incredible and proud LGBTQIA+ creatives in our own community; a group of photographers, artists, and creatives who openly share their pride in the person they are, and who create work that supports their artistic voice and community.
Chanita Christmas is an artist and world traveler. As a creative entrepreneur and owner of Peach State Media Group, specializing in photography, videography, branding, and digital marketing, her goal is to help people see the greatness within themselves. Chanita truly believes that everyone has a story that should be shared with the world. She’s passionate about working with other entrepreneurs and business owners to help them get to their next level of success.
About this image, Chanita shares: “I love taking photos of women in a state of flow. This photo was post-meditation and grounding. You could feel the energy through her eyes!”
Runa Halleraker is a queer visual artist and poet living in Bergen, Norway, working from a deep interest in abstract painting, and expanding to include drawing, text, photography, sculpture and installation. About their work, Runa shared “I mainly create non figuratively, with attention to detail, and with an expressive vocabulary ranging between transparency and opacity. On a personal level my work has developed to be an exercise in finding the connections between the wordlessly fleeting qualities of my work and my queer gender identity. Through abstraction I distance the work from the recognisable form, and embrace the aesthetics of awkwardness, struggle, nonsense and contingency. I want my work to urge us to consider the in-between and changeable as a core component of survival.”
Brian Bates is a passionate small business owner based in Atlanta who finds joy in helping clients immortalize unforgettable moments during special events and sports. With a keen eye for detail and a creative perspective, he strives to capture that singular instant where emotions are palpable and the essence of the scene is vividly portrayed. One of his clients recently praised his work, stating, “Through his impactful images, Brian skillfully conveys the profound connections shared during our workshops.” Brian excels at capturing candid moments from unique angles, when individuals are at ease and their true selves shine through. Beyond special events, he thrives on the sidelines, whether it be a recreational adult league or a high school championship. Nothing compares to the exhilaration of capturing the winning goal, the incredible catch, the bone-crushing tackle, the celebratory run around the bases, and the captivating beauty of human movement. Photographs are special. They are a moment in time captured forever and he is honored and profoundly grateful to be able to give clients those special moments to cherish and remember forever.
Brian captured this image during a workshop on how to photograph and capture dancers, where he was assisting the amazing photographer and instructor Judy Host, and shared about the experience: “During this styled shoot, Stephen (the model) performed several ballet jumps for me and I was able to catch this beautiful image with the sun, his form, the flow of the scarf, and a clean but rustic background. The image is such a beautiful contrast of grace and strength. The definition of his muscles contrasts so nicely with the elegance of form and gentle flow of the scarf, creating a beautiful balance.”
Elley Cam is a Michigan-based digital artist and illustrator who also attends school part time studying Business Administration. They have been drawing ever since she was a young child but didn’t take art all that seriously until their 20’s.
A self-described over-thinker who has struggled with depression and anxiety, Elley found that her art was one of their only ways to really express themselves. They classify their art style as Semi-Realistic, with Anime influences. Most illustrations are created using the app “Procreate” on the iPad, however they still create traditional pieces every now and then.
Elley shares “My Original Characters (OCs) are mostly BIPOC and part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Much of my work features clean, cute and “aesthetic” illustrations, although I do not shy away from dark/eerie themes, occasionally touching on themes that relate to my battles with chronic anxiety and depression.”
Tyreek Voltaire is a photographer whose passion lies in fashion and commercial portraiture. From a young age, Tyreek was drawn to the expressive and artistic forms of performance and art. His journey as an artist began as a means of sharing his passions with others and allowing them to see a deeper aspect of his personality. As he continued to explore different mediums of self-expression, Tyreek discovered his love for photography during the summer break after his freshman year at Morehouse College. Since then, he has honed his skills as a photographer, using his unique perspective to capture compelling images that evoke emotion and spark a sense of curiosity in the viewer.
Kacey Lyngaas is a Norwegian photographer and artist operating under the name “dream in pictures.” Kacey started Dream In Pictures as an ironic name after being diagnosed with aphantasia; she has very vivid dreams and always a really good idea of what she wants her art to look like, despite being unable to mentally visualize the images.
Kacey has been doing photography for roughly 10 years, and began to truly focus on it when she moved to the UK in 2019. When asked about her business, Kacey shared “I’ve spent those 4 years taking photos of things I like and I evaluate and learn something every time. It was quite easy to fall in love with the arts as a whole as you’re only being judged on what you produced rather than who you are. When others see my photos they don’t see my disability, my sexuality, or my neurodivergency. They just see what I produce, and everything I make brings me joy.
Dog photography is something I just fell into as I just wanted the ability to be around dogs and learn a new skill. Turns out, it is something I’m quite good at, and it feeds my need for change as you always have to adjust your approach on the fly. But my dream stays the same. My true goal is to also branch out into self confidence shoots like boudoir and portrait ones so that every age, shape and gender can see how beautiful they truly are. I will probably always photograph dogs as well as they are part of my passion, whether I’m training or taking photos of them.
I have also been working closely with a company called Cumbria Canine Services and have contacts through them. The photos used by them are mostly by me, as well as some for other dog related companies in the area. I can be found taking photos at mantrailing events, puppy classes and dog workshops. What I have been praised for the most is my action shots in relation to my mantrailing photography!”
Remi McQuen (rhymes with ‘Ewen’ not “when”) has been a professional photographer in London, UK for nearly ten years. He received his degree in photography from the University of East London and has worked as In-House Photographer for both John Lewis & Partners and Danetti. He offers full professional photography services with retouch in addition to some video services.
Remi spoke about his creative voice and style: “While I have experience shooting a broad range of subjects, including products, interiors and food/beverage, my passion is for environmental portraits. As a gay man I often find myself photographing gay men as a way to learn more about myself and add creativity back into my community. I am happy to adapt the look and feel of a project to meet my client’s needs, but I would characterise my work as bold and detailed. When it comes to portraiture, the two driving influences for me are character and dynamism. In general, I love to make striking images that linger with the viewer long after they have seen one of my photos.”
Naomi Bielefeldt of Burgundy Rose Studios is a Wisconsin based portrait photographer who identifies as genderfluid, pansexual and bisexual. Naomi specializes in portraits, theatrical and nature photography in Madison, Milwaukee, and the surrounding areas.
Naomi shared “I had the honor of taking senior photos for this talented young musician last September. He wanted to incorporate his guitar in a field at sunset; I used a green filter against the sunset to create this look. I am also most excited this year to once again be a vendor at Pride in the Park in Watertown, WI.”
Born and raised in the Philippines until his early teens, Adrian has since lived most of his life in Australia and makes his home in Melbourne.
With a background in theatre and performance art, Adrian initially studied Zoology and was planning to be a marine biologist. However, the idea of moving to Townsville, Queensland on his own to study marine science seemed like a formidable task at the time – he was 18. Instead, he remained in Melbourne and worked in community theatre for some time after completing his studies in the performing arts. He was gifted a film camera around 20 years ago and later decided to go back to school to study photography. It’s been a long journey to get to this point. And he is still travelling.
Nordess: Patricia Rodas & Ilar Gunilla Persson
LGBT+ photographers Patricia Rodas & Ilar Gunilla Persson started the Nordess photo project to document how the Nordic woman with an immigrant background, as well as people who identify as women, and women born in the Nordic region, connect to the Nordic mentality, culture, history to their everyday life.
The project started in 2001 when they made their first trip to the Faroe Islands. They photographed about 20 women, and this collection of images resulted in a travelling exhibition which was shown in the Nordic countries from 2003-2005. Since that time they have been photographing in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. One of their images, Àsa in folk costume from the Faroe Islands, was nominated for the Life Framer “Humans of the World” competition in 2022.
Their unique approach includes both photographers shooting analogue during a photo session, using both black and white and colour film. In their Nordess project, both women consider themselves authors of all the photographs due to the discussion, planning, and collaborative photographing of each image. From their perspective, this collaboration removes the emphasis generally placed by the photo industry on the importance of an individual author.
“Through the Nordess photo project, we want to highlight the diversity of women and try to capture something of the innermost essence of the person photographed and the place that the person holds as special in their everyday life,” shared Rodas & Persson.