Quil Lemons is a student at The New School in New York City. His studies in journalism and design help actualize his vision of expanding the perception of what it means to be African American in America. Glitterboy, one of his most successful projects, combats hypermasculinity in the black community. More recent work includes a series of portraits in which Lemons celebrated the women who raised him.

Who inspired you to pursue photography?
My family inspires me. I really want to make them proud as they’ve sacrificed so much for me to be in the position that I’m in now. I also want to do it for my younger self who needed someone like me to look up to.

What motivates you to continue with photography?
Knowing that I’m telling stories that many overlook. Also, I really just love shooting. I’m just documenting my life. I hope one day people look at my photos and see the highs and lows of my existence.

What is a misconception about upcoming photographers you’d like to dispel?
That we’re just rookies or “upcoming.” We have voices and tell stories with photos that “established” photographers couldn’t think of. I think to reduce that to “emerging” or “upcoming” undermines the talent and visceral quality our art has. Most of us have spent years honing our craft before we began to gain recognition. We aren’t new to photography. We’re just new to some of you.

What is the responsibility of a photographer to their audience?
To tell the narrative in the best way possible. Maybe it is creating fantasy or documenting actuality. It’s our job to present the narrative to the world.

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