Taking time out of his Fashion Week schedule, photographer Darrel Hunter talked with us about his work, his experience in the industry, and the continued struggle to see representation.
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I am Darrel Hunter and I have been working as a photographer for about 13 years now. I mainly specialise in fashion but capture whatever inspires me. I consider photography my artistic outlet. One of the best parts of my job is being able to travel and be inspired, capturing things from all over the world.
How did you get into photography?
Before I started photography I was working in finance for quite a few years but I always had a love for fashion and art, and I got to a stage – I think in 2007 – where I decided I wanted to do something I was passionate about. So I took a short course in photography, an introduction to fashion photography, how to work in a studio, lighting, etc. From there, I reached out to a very close friend who was a stylist in the industry and she took me under her wing. She started taking me to fashion shoots, introducing me to people, taking me to fashion week; just giving me priceless knowledge within the world of photography. That helped me to get started as an assistant to photographers and I would spend all of my time in their studio. They were really open in helping me and giving me advice, allowing me to work with my craft.
How has the fashion industry changed when it comes to diversity and inclusion since you’ve started?
I feel there have been some changes in regard to inclusivity since I started. It has been quite slow and there is still a lot that needs to be addressed. But there have been appointments of editors in larger roles, for example Edward Enninful at British VOGUE, Lindsay Peoples Wagner at Teen VOGUE. Black editors and people of colour have been able to open doors for other people that otherwise wouldn’t have had certain opportunities.
There is a lot of tokenism where you have only one person representing minorities, whereas I think there should be inclusivity in every area of the industry, photographers, editors, stylists, hairdressers. The fact that it’s 2020 and we’re still struggling to see representation in majority of the industry it’s a problem.
How do you use your platform to support and promote these values and the Black Lives Matter movement?
It’s something that’s part of me, so even before these issue and the movements gained visibility I was always pushing for representation. It’s a current theme in my photography. I always make sure to go out of my way to capture black people and other individuals that have been unrepresented in several areas, so for me promoting diversity comes quite natural. In so many areas we don’t see representation so it’s on me to make extra efforts to show people. Of course I could always do more and I will continue to do so everywhere I can, on my platforms, when I’m working on photoshoots, always pushing to make sure the teams that I have are diverse and that I open opportunities to different people. Making sure that when I capture images, I have a broad spectrum, so that people can see themselves represented in any way.
For me it’s mainly about representation, and when you see someone who looks like yourself it helps. I had messages from people saying they didn’t realise there were so many black people in the fashion industry or attending fashion week, or in these roles, because they didn’t see them represented in different publications. So if I can continue to do that, and to push that and make it available that’s what I’m going to continue using my platform for. It’s important to use my platform to tell my own story; when other people are controlling the narrative or trying to dictate how black people are seen in the industry. If I’m able to tell the story, I’m doing it from my own perspective.
How do you select the brands you work with and how can these get in touch?
It’s mainly brands I find inspiring, brands with a story or something interesting, or a history. Brands that make an effort and a difference to be inclusive, willing to listen and work, not just for appearance but also within their company structure. It’s just about respecting the artist, which for me is really important. I have brands contacting me via Instagram @modehunter, word of mouth, connections. I’ve been really fortunate to have people who have been rooting for me and have reached out to people to recommend me.
Any exciting projects in the pipeline for us to hear about?
I have a project that I have been working on shooting during lockdown. It’s a personal project and I’m hoping to have that out once laws change and we will have the opportunity to have it exhibited.