Exploring the Beauty of Women of Color through Amaal Said’s Work

Danish-born Somali photographer Amaal Said’s beautiful, poetic portraits offer humanizing photographs of people in her community, frequently young people of different cultural backgrounds who are far too often under- or misrepresented.

Who is she?

Amaal Said is a 24 year old Somali photographer, and poet, based in London. Her photography work has been featured in VogueThe Guardian and The New Yorker. She tries to connect as best possible with people in order to be able to document their stories. In 2015 she won the Wasafiri Magazine’s New Writing Prize for poetry, her work was also featured in the fourth volume of African Lens and exhibited in Accra, Ghana.

Said started her artistic career as a poet but took to photography after visiting family in Kenya. She found out that words would require a certain reflection to honestly describe the exact feelings she experienced while she was there.

“There were family secrets that were being unearthed and then being buried again. I didn’t have words big enough to cover that kind of trauma,” Said said. “I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember and it’s extremely frustrating not being able to write through it,” she added.

“But […] I could take a photograph and then come back to it later if I wanted to. I could add words and describe the family portrait or I could leave it alone and let it do the explaining. It gave me that freedom and I’m so grateful.”

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Get to know her work

Here are some examples of her empowering and creative photographs featuring women of color:

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“I’m most comfortable shooting women because I feel like I’m better able to connect. There’s also warmth. But I also mainly photograph women of color because I’m interested in how I can use the work I do to widen representation in any way that I can. Parks have always been my favorite place to shoot, but I’m challenging myself now. I choose a random place in London and we go for a walk, get a little lost and also a little closer.”

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“I keep asking myself, ‘if you don’t take the pictures then who will? Who’s going to photograph the women you love in a light that is fair to them, in a way that they recognize themselves?’”

“Imagine if we opened a book up and saw women that looked like our mothers and aunts? There is something so warm about looking at a picture and being able to recognize yourself in it.”

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If you are intrigued by her work, you can visit her own website: http://www.amaalsaid.com