Photographer and writer Clifford Prince King transports viewers into the intimate moments shared between Queer Black lovers. His unique and personal lens focuses on the beauty of gender, sexuality and race and shines a light towards these underrated motifs. King showcases this appreciation through his photography and direction and draws inspiration from other Black creatives and writers such as the notable James Baldwin and Essex Hemphill. King discusses with us his artistic backgrounds, where he wants to take his love for film-making and the process that goes into producing the stunning works he puts out.
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The themes touched on in most of your work centre around your interpretations of relationships and intimacy, what inspires you to capture these beautifully narrated images?
I suppose my inspiration stems from a longing to see images of black queer folks in love.
Growing up, every interpretation of love and intimacy was showcased through a heteronormative gaze.The work I make is for my past self and I hope they can allow for others to see that all types of love are achievable.
How have your own personal experiences affected the type of work you put out?
All of my personal experiences directly impact my work. Whether moving to Los Angeles or the process of entering a new relationship. The work shifts as I do. Some moments that I’ve experienced within friendships and relationships can be found within my photographs. Often those moments are fleeting and I attempt to recreate them and keep them with me.
Queerness in the Black community is something that hasn’t always been as celebrated much as it is now. Did you have any hesitations producing the work you do due to how it would potentially be received within our community?
My only hesitations were in regards to the sitters I was photographing. It’s my priority to retain comfort and safety. With the internet, photos can really get around, so just making sure everyone feels okay with their participation in my practice. Aside from that, there isn’t much hesitation because the way people want to receive the work is on them.
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How do you wish to continue celebrating Black queerness?
By showing up for one another; in support and assistance. By listening, community building and inclusion.
It’s truly great to see you referencing Black writers and creatives such as James Baldwin in some of your work. How did works by him inspire you in the craft you put out today?
James Baldwin as a person was inspiring. His tone, way with words and overall willingness to speak on issues that affected black lives; that is what I take away from him most. His work is great, but I didn’t read him until semi recently, but I did watch videos of him speaking and that was moving.
What got you into photography, has this been something you’ve always wanted to do?
I spent a lot of time watching movies as a kid. I would film on my dad’s VHS recorder as well. I’ve always been really into cameras and photography. I think it allowed me to be less shy in a lot of ways. The lens helped me break the ice.
As well as intimacy, your work also focuses on crucial themes surrounding gender and sexuality. What do you use as your main references when producing these works?
Some references are poems by Essex Hemphill and Langston Hughes. Other than that, I’m motivated by what’s in front of me. It’s important for me to be present and observant throughout my daily life.
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Who were your creative inspirations growing up?
I liked Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman, Ren Hang, late nights on Tumblr and anything produced by Miramax.
You’ve mentioned your love for directing and your latest short film Growing Each Day is proof of that. Is film production something you’re going to continue to embark on?
Absolutely. I think the first stage of that realm for me is writing.
What’s the one thing you wish to change for the future of the creative industry?
I hope that more black and brown women are hired and paid equally in their field without compromises.
You’ve already got some amazing projects lined up, but what should we expect from you in the future?
Travel is also a passion of mine. So I hope to spend time overseas and continue to make work and tell stories from different places.
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