When you think of the next generation of photographers, Christian Cody's name should come to mind. Black photographers play a crucial role in the world of imagery, bringing unique perspectives and narratives that have often been overlooked or underrepresented. Their work challenges stereotypes, breaks down barriers, and sheds light on the diverse experiences and cultures within the Black community.
By capturing and documenting moments of history, culture, and everyday life, Black photographers contribute to a more inclusive and accurate representation of today's society.
The biggest impact of Black photographers is their ability to tell our stories, that may have otherwise gone untold. For Cody, he learned to tell stories through photos early on as a child. Through his lens, he captured the beauty and rawness of the world. He used the people and landscapes around him as test subjects while he perfected his craft. This prepared him to work with some of the biggest names in Black Hollywood like Regina King, EBONY Cover Star Lupita Nyong'o, and music newcomer, Ice Spice.
EBONY spoke with Christian Cody to learn more on how he first picked up a camera to capture some of our culture's most stunning images.
EBONY: Where are you from originally and what sparked your interest in photography?
Christian Cody: I was a Navy baby in Norfolk, VA but was raised in Ellenwood, Georgia from a young age. While in Georgia, I nurtured my budding love of photo by experimenting with portraits and landscapes of the people in my life and their surroundings.
My love for photography originally started after I began shooting the varying landscapes of America during summer road trips with my father, who was a truck driver. When I got back home, I found that I really had a gift for telling stories through photographs.
Who bought your first camera and what kind was it?
My first camera was given to me by my mom. It was an old HP point-and-shoot camera. This was during the era when we all used little digital cameras for selfies and uploads of daily life. My first DSLR though was a Canon Rebel T3i, which came after I convinced my parents that I was indeed interested in photography and that I was prepared to take it seriously.
Who was the first person you took a picture of?
I remember the portrait like I took it yesterday. It was of my brother, slightly younger, who was posted up on my first car, looking out as if he was wondering about the cosmos. He was styled in my dad's clothes in our front yard. This is where I first experienced that gratification of creating my own framing and composition from what intuitively felt right. This was also where I learned that I could control my own narrative and decide what was visually interesting to me. He, along with other family members, were who I started to experiment with; throwing them into an outfit on a location and just going for it.
Do you ever shoot with film?
Big yes! I started out with digital photography, but after graduating from college I started to experiment with film—35mm. This was in 2018. I was craving the feeling of making happy discoveries and mistakes in my work, and shooting digital was just too "exact" for my personal work at the time. I wanted to experience a photographic process that was rawer, one that challenged me to really decide what was important for me to lend my eyes to without blindly shooting. The result was a string of strong work that really opened my eyes to the possibilities of film. I’ve been shooting film ever since.
What are some of your favorite things to shoot and why?
I’d say fashion and people will always be my favorites to shoot. Fashion to me is the ultimate catalyst for creativity and expression in my work. It involves how we see ourselves and others, express who we are and what’s important to us as individuals. So with that said, I always find it at the forefront of any personal shoot.
You've shot many magazine covers. What are some of your favorites so far?
Covers recently have been such a great way for me to broadcast my original concepts in conjunction with big talent and phenomenal teams. With that stated, some of my favorite covers would have to be Lupita Nyong’o for The Hollywood Reporter, Ice Spice for Billboard, Metro Boomin for GQ Hype and Regina King for InStyle. These shoots were definitely all 'pinch me moments' with happy accidents or last minute ideas that took them all over the edge for me. I think what I loved the most about them was how each team involved really captured the essence of the mood that I wanted for each shoot and often took it beyond what I could imagine.
Who are you dying to shoot next and why?
I would say I’d love to shoot KeKe Palmer and Rihanna. They’re both stunning mothers that represent the tenacity, charisma, and majesty of Black women in entertainment and business today. I love everything that they both represent, and I know that the shoot would be nothing but laughs and complete magic!