This Photographer Reimagines the Future by Referencing the Past

In How I Got Here, Black and brown creatives explore how they worked their way to the top of the fashion industry. In conversation with Vogue, these editors, social media stars, and more reveal the unforgettable moment that would change their careers completely. How I Got Here offers (stylish) life lessons, in the artists’ own words.

The twenty-four-year-old photographer Quil Lemons has made a name for himself by capturing pop culture’s most coveted stars. He lensed Hollywood’s finest at the 2021 Academy Awards on behalf of Vanity Fair, capturing Glenn Close, Daniel Kaluuya, and Zendaya, to name a few, on the biggest night in the industry. His work also includes editorials with Valentino and viral self portraits. Lemons is determined to cultivate a space where he can be authentically heard through images.

There have been multiple shifts that have happened in my career. The first one is when I released Glitter Boy in 2017. I believe that was the declaration of me being in this space and being taken seriously as an image maker. Then you fast forward to when I shot my family for a Valentino campaign in 2018 and everyone realized I wasn’t a one-hit wonder. People started to see my range and acknowledge that I can do fashion and do it well.

I also attribute my early success to my first commission from Condé Nast. I did a story for Allure called Goodbye to “Good Hair” and that’s when people started to really solidify that there was more to me. Another massive turning point would have to be the 2020 pandemic. The work I was able to do within that time was so refreshing. While we were in an indefinite period of “pausing,” I was still able to create. I was trying to figure out how I could keep going. Luckily, my subjects happened to be my family so I was fortunate in that way. I ended up doing FaceTime shoots that sort of signaled to a lot of editors that I was still thinking outside of the box.

Photographed by Matt Yoscary 

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