UO Interviews: Adrienne Williams

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Get to know photographer and LA creative Adrienne Williams and learn more about her upcoming pop-up MS. RPRSNTD - an inclusive photo exhibition celebrating women of color - here at Space 15 Twenty from September 8-10th.

Photos by Iris Ray

Hi There! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

Hey! I'm Adrienne. Black woman. Photographer. Daughter. Sister. Lover. Fighter. 

Have you always lived in LA?

I think I have officially passed my Angelo infancy. I've been in LA for five years. I was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Detroit, three of the most challenging cities to live in, in the United States. All three cities mean a great deal to me and a significant part of my identity and the culture I identify with. 

How did you first get started with photography?

I got my first camera when I was eight years old. It was a Kodak Brownie camera with a flip flash socket. I got it by raising money through this weird pyramid scheme. I was selling very useless products to adults to earn points towards prizes. The first thing I wanted was that camera. Ever since then I've been shooting. I really fell in love with photography when I began shooting rap shows in Detroit for a local magazine. Shooting folks like Danny Brown, NAS & The Clipse was something I just stumbled into and never really left. 

What sort of things are you drawn to when you're taking a photo?

I'm not much of a studio photographer. What moves me most are capturing candid portraits of humans and graffiti. Especially graffiti because you never know how long that one piece of art will last. My passion is to capture passing moments so they can last forever. 

Are there any particular photographers or artists that have inspired your work over the years?

Jamel Shabazz & Ricky Powell are the two photographers who have influenced my style the most. They are so skilled in the way they capture candid moments that their images always feel timeless and transcendental. That is what I aim to do. I want people to look at the photos I've taken and ask questions and try to imagine the story behind the scene. I'm really inspired by Jason Goldwatch and the fearless way he shoots. I'm also in constant awe of the color palettes of Maricel Sison and Evidence. 

Any upcoming projects or collaborations that you are excited about?

I have a few things in the works. My dream right now is to work with Princess Nokia in some way. Her principles and identification with urban feminism speak volumes to me. What she's doing to create a safe space for black, brown, yellow and red femmes is so important and so needed. I know we could create some magic together! 

 Why is the MS. RPRSNTD movement important to you?

As a girl who was always scared to get on a skateboard, this project is meant to eradicate that fear for young girls who may feel the way I did when I was their age. Representation is so important and I just want to do my part. 

What are your goals when it comes to the future of MS. RPRSNTD?

The goal is to take this show on the road. the next stop would be New York and reshoot with all New York women and femmes. The Brujas are the queen bees and really really out here doing it for the culture. 

Any advice to give for an aspiring photographer/ skater girl who's just starting out?

Don't listen to anyone. Whether folks are gassing you up or doubting you, silence the noise and just push. Push that skateboard. Push that shutter button. Also, remember that it all begins with your intention. Whatever you decide to do, do it from a place of love. I started this project five years ago and it got nowhere because it came from a place of fear and anger. Once I finally understood the power of intention and purpose, the universe finally said "Yep. Go 'head sis." 

Lastly, What do you hope for people to take away from the MS. RPRSNTD Pop- Up?

If only one girl feels empowered to get on a skateboard and just try...then my job is done. For everyone else? I want everyone to understand the power of amplification. I'm just one person putting on a photography exhibit. Imagine the cultural shift that could happen if more people amplified those around those around them. 

Check out more information on the MS. RPRSNTD pop-up + event line up here!

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MS. RPRSNTD