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Shot on iPhone ‘Hometown’ campaign celebrates Black History Month with local perspectives


Apple has a number of initiatives for Black History Month this year. One of the creative projects is the latest Shot on iPhone campaign as the company gave 30 Black photographers the iPhone 12 Pro to capture their “Hometowns” and highlight their local culture.

From New York to California, Chicago to D.C. and much more, this Shot on iPhone campaign produced beautiful and rich, real stories about the Black communities around the US.

In a Newsroom post today, Apple highlighted 5 of the Black photographers that it commissioned for the project. Here is Juilen James’ submission:

Blackness is not monolithic.

Julien James, Washington, D.C.

Black comes in different skin tones, hair textures, sounds, languages and dialects, and cultures. It’s more of a spectrum. Black people come to Washington, D.C., from all over the United States and the world to study, work, engage in politics — and all of them are bringing their own cultures. It’s this big flavor pot. D.C. has a large population of West Africans and Ethiopia’s largest population outside of Ethiopia, and they add to the Black cultural fabric. Then there are the native Washingtonians, who’ve created Go-Go music, fashion trends, and even the bike-life culture. They all add to the pot. The diversity in Black culture, and specifically in D.C., is something I wanted to capture in these images of Nate, Taryn, and Chris. They all are so unique and different — from their sense of fashion to their hair’s texture to their cultural upbringing.

Nate has this great energy, even his facial expressions embody D.C.’s vibe. I usually focus on a lot of direct eye contact when I shoot. The Ultra Wide camera allows me to get up really close to someone, still catch that direct eye contact, but also catch a ton of information in the background that paints a fuller story.

From Chicago, here is Lawrence Agyei’s entry:

Black is excellence.

Lawrence Agyei, Chicago

I wanted to capture the essence of Chicago and its excellence. Bronzeville has enabled the careers of many jazz, blues, and gospel musicians, so I wanted to capture Sam in his element, playing his trumpet, while also placing him in the history of the neighborhood. The South Shore Drill Team also has a deep history in Chicago. Shooting with iPhone 12 Pro allowed me to place both Sam and the band members in these locations, and immediately see them through a new light. I was blown away with the speed of the camera and my ability to quickly edit these color shots to be black and white, adding to their historic, timeless feel.

Since I was young, my mom taught me the importance of knowing our history. She also taught me that everything Black was excellent. Malcolm X was excellent. Martin Luther King Jr. was excellent. I grew up in Italy, where schools didn’t really teach African American history, so my mother made sure that I knew about the leaders and movement of my people. As a photographer, my job is to document the Black experience in Chicago. My hope is that the stories I’m telling will help in changing the narrative of what Chicago is to the rest of the world.

Check out the rest of the featured Hometown Shot on iPhone stories at Apple’s Newsroom here.

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