Philosophically, I believe that everyone is “saving the world,” all the time. You, me, Donald so-and-so, my friends; we’re all great and positive and powerful. But like, I really feel like Fati is someone I know who is *~saving saving the world world~*. She’s always out doing engagements that are meant to push the boundaries of language, perception, and community. Whether educating youths, organizing, or speaking at a conference Fatimah makes openness the priority. It’s immensely painful work, but she stays at it day in day out, in many different lands spanning the globe.
Recently, @asgharthegrouch started a project called Let Me Love Me. It consists of photos of brown people, nekkid, discussing their feelings on beauty and vulnerability. I find something very special in the place Fati creates in LMLM and am very happy she made time to talk to me about the series.
Can you talk about the aspect of having friends as your subjects throughout Let Me Love Me?
I think it makes both parties feel more comfortable if we know each other or are friends. I’m generally an awkward person, but I really enjoy photographing people. I think it feels more comfortable for them because they aren’t getting naked for a stranger. I think it also helps with conversations, because I’m able to ask questions that are catered to individual people rather than asking stock questions.
What was the genesis of the LMLM like? Did it take some time to figure out?
It happened on a train ride to the Chicago Botanical Gardens. But it was this last winter and I was thinking about how most of my friends of color were constantly fighting for racial justice and how we weren’t always taking care of ourselves. We were just going and going and forgetting to eat and forgetting to sleep and fighting and it was really hard. I was thinking a lot about how people of color are very rarely in control in our own images or stories. I wanted to do something that felt like a gift for people of color, a moment where we could just take some time and really focus on who we are, how we are beautiful, and how far we’ve come.
What did you learn about yourself or the world around you as you completed this project?
Just how much shit we each have to battle through just to feel comfortable in our own skins. The world is always telling us that we aren’t enough, and that’s not fair. Also, I learned a lot about some of my closest friends doing this. I think that’s really amazing, that we are constantly learning about ourselves and each other. That learning is never going to stop, no matter how long you’ve known them.
What other long-term photography projects have you done?
None. This is my first, so it’s really exciting.
What would you like more people to know about you as a photographer?
That I’ve taught myself how to do this. I’ve never taken a class or gotten a formal instruction. I don’t know the camera as well as I could, but for me photography is an experiment, its something that I am learning. I tell that to most of the people I take a photo of, that I’m not an expert, I’m just trying.