Black Inclusion Week - Denise Maxwell, International Photographer
Black Inclusion Week is a celebration of Black people in the UK and an opportunity to remember the importance of building a fair and just society through the inclusion of everyone.
As part of the week, we are featuring a number of contributions from local people, who share about their proudest achievement, how they have promoted inclusion, the impact of their work, the advice they would give to others and their commitment to 'being the change'.
In this article, we feature Denise Maxwell, International Photographer.
Internationally recognised photographer Denise Maxell has been at the forefront of a career that has spanned 10 years. Originally born and bred in Walsall, having attended King Charles Primary School and moving onto Alumwell Comprehensive School, she has risen to prominence in a number of public and third sector roles.
Denise first started her career in event and portrait photography. Years later her portfolio has expanded to cover many genres including sports (The Diamond League Athletics), fashion (London Fashion Week), weddings, red carpet, portraits, music, food and events. She explained "I have always had jobs that have had variety, so when I moved into photography I wanted to continue this. A year into setting up my business I had a bout of imposter syndrome. I thought I could not do it and I got a "proper job" as a lecturer in a college. However, within a short period of time, I realised this job would be detrimental to my mental and social health. This forced me to have to make my business and photography work. The different genres I now cover allow me to continually test my skills and keep everything exciting and it is important for me to love and be challenged by what I do. This is important for my mental health. Working for myself gives me the ability to be flexible around the needs of my family. This is important for my social health".
To date, this varied successful career has led Denise to have photographed some of the most well-known people and events in the world including people such as Barack Obama, Usain Bolt, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey. She has covered events such as London Fashion Week, The Brits and the BAFTA's and has a client list that now includes The BBC, Gumtree, Wates Construction and Armani. Her work has been featured in Vogue, The Independent, The Guardian and other leading publications. She has been featured on the BBC twice this year.
Denise balances out her professional life with teaching at Sandwell College and The University of Birmingham. She also supports grassroots organisations such as The Lighthouse Church.
Copyright © Lensi Photography. Licensed for use - Walsall for All / Walsall Council.
The images featured above are two of those from an exhibition by the UKBFTOG's called "We Are Here" showcasing some of the work of UK Black Female Photographers. The exhibition was launched in Walsall at Blank Canvas, an exciting new arts space in Walsall Town Centre and is now on its second phase of a UK wide tour. It showcases some of Denise's editorial artwork and is entitled "Red on Black" and forms part of a series of editorial style portraits featuring hints of red on dark-skinned models. Denise wanted to test the boundaries of shooting editorial on small budgets and styled the shoot herself. She also wanted to contrast the beauty of the model with the symbolism of red meaning anger for many of the current issues that the general public was suddenly being made aware of. She also aimed to play with light, using natural light streams to create shadow and interest in the image. These can be purchased as art prints here, alongside the other prints from the exhibition.
The next exhibition of 'UKBFTOG: We Are Here' will be at Midlands Arts Centre (MAC Birmingham) from Monday 24th May to Monday 30th August. Admission is free. For further details, visit the MAC website: https://macbirmingham.co.uk/exhibition/we-are-here
Recently, Denise documented local people in their Wednesbury allotments during the lockdown, as part of the We Are Wednesbury project, an interactive community map that outlines hidden histories and stories of the local area, drawing lines from the past and exploring new, collectively imagined possibilities for the future. To find out more, visit the We Are Wednesbury website: https://wearewednesbury.uk/the-allotments/
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