You Better Werk: Texas Isaiah
A picture is worth a thousand words, but great photography transcends language.
Texas Isaiah - who has built a platform on the foundations of mutual care and respect through the camera lens, reminds us of the beauty found in being different. From projects like Image is an Offering that centers Black trans and gender expansive people loving themselves to their recent work Intimacy in Isolation - which was in the New York Times - Texas continues to affirm the idea that even in our darkest moments, there is much to be said with one snap of a photo.
“Doing photography has taught me about connectivity and establishing relationships,” he says, noting that photography isn’t just about getting the right photo, but about helping others to feel seen. “It’s about establishing community and images help me provide different methods of caretaking and mutual respect for those who look and live like me.”
Through his talent, he has been able to redefine representation by highlighting stories that are often left out of traditional media.
“Doing photography for me is about celebrating heritage,” he shares, noting that he knew photography was his calling after doing his first full length project because it gave him the space to think about the intersections of his identity. “When I did Blackness, It gave me the opportunity to document and celebrate the diversity of the African diaspora who also highlighted the spectrums across gender and sexuality. This was important for me as this allowed me to be more vulnerable with myself and the people in the project”.
For Texas Isaiah, being behind the camera is a testament to the power of Black trans people and how one photograph can redefine the definition of representation. “For me, it’s about the proximity to the art,” he says. “It’s knowing that so many Black trans people will never have the chance to work with someone who understands their story. I think that is what fascinates me about this work. There is really a talent for capturing Black (trans) people, specifically in their full image.”
While Texas believes there are many things that photographers can learn from his work, he hopes they also learn from his trajectory as a Black trans person. “I think we need to delve deeper into conversations around compassion for others and for self,” he shared.
“My work is not only about showing intimacy, but also about reminding people that they don’t have to choose a singular path to establish career artistry.”
Following this idea has led to great success for Texas. Recently he had the chance to work with big names like Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union for Times, and his long time idol Janet Mock. “There is just something so magical about Black people,” he says, noting how working with them helped him better understand the need to think outside the box.
Upon asking him what advice he would give other queer photographers during this time, he noted how important it is to not feel pressured to be someone they’re not behind the camera. For Texas Isaiah, the most beautiful part of being a photographer is embracing the process.
“For young Black, queer, disabled, trans/gender expansive people I would say that the most important part of this process is being okay with time,” he explains. “It’s your right to protect your work and your legacy. Feel free to take your time in developing your projects and don’t feel like you have to rush the process. Oh, and always ask questions. It will save you in the end.”
Above all, his message continues to be one that is loud and clear.
“Community can be found in photography and always remember to follow your heart.”