Black photographer photographs the Vanity Fair cover for the first time in the magazine’s 107-year history
In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis is featured on the cover, making her a rare black cover star in the magazine’s 107-year history – but even more notably, the man who took the picture is the first black photographer who photographs a cover for the publication.
Dario Calmese, who has been shooting for the magazine since last year, earned the long-awaited honor for the July / August issue of Vanity Fair – a groundbreaking moment that he took seriously.
“I knew this was a time to say something,” the 38-year-old told the New York Times. “I knew this was a time to be extra black.”
Big deal: Vanity Fair’s latest song features Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis on the cover – and was the first cover ever to be shot by a black photographer
The snapper: Dario Calmese, who has been shooting for the magazine since last year, earned the long-awaited honor for the July / August issue of Vanity Fair
For Calmese, that meant stepping up a particularly powerful image of Davis wearing a MaxMara trench dress for the cover photo.
Taken from behind, the photo shows the dress that falls off her shoulders and exposes much of her back.
It is incredibly glamorous – unlike the image that inspired it.
Calmese said he based the shot on an iconic 1863 photo called The Scourged Back, which shows the scarred back of a man named Gordon escaping slavery.
“This image claims that story, which transforms the white look at black suffering into the black look of grace, elegance and beauty,” said Calmese, who attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and now runs fashion shows for the Pyer Moss label.
“It’s about replacing the images that have engulfed us for centuries and tell us who we are and our position in the world and our value,” he continued.
“For me, this cover is my protest. But no protest in “Look how bad you have been to me, and I’m mad and I’m upset”, [but rather] “I’m going to rewrite this story. I’m just going to own it. ‘
Inspiration: Calmese said he based the shot on an iconic 1863 photo called The Scourged Back, which shows the scar-covered back of a man named Gordon who escaped slavery
Star: Davis is one of eight Black cover stars released since editor-in-chief Radhika Jones took over two and a half years ago; in the previous 35 years there were only 17
When the new song was released, Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones emphasized the excitement of Calmese’s participation.
“This month brings its own milestone. As far as we know, this is the first Vanity Fair cover made by a black photographer, ”she wrote in her editor’s letter.
“This is his first major magazine cover, and we’re celebrating and honoring his vision for this elevated moment in American history.”
The magazine is also short on black cover stars. in the 35 years before Jones became editor, there were only 17 covers with solo Black stars.
She has added eight more since taking over the role two and a half years ago, and also had two interracial couples.
“Our cover star this month is Viola Davis, and in her conversation with Sonia Saraiya, she points to an irrefutable fact about this magazine:” They’ve had a problem putting black women on the covers in the past, ” Jones continued.
“For most of the magazine’s history, a black artist, athlete or politician who regularly appeared at the Vanity Fair was a rare occurrence.”
It wasn’t until 2018 that Vogue hired a black photographer to photograph the cover, after Beyonce hand-picked him to photograph her for the September issue
Honor: Tyler Mithcell was the first black photographer to cover the magazine in 125 years
It’s no problem for Vanity Fair alone – nor is there a shortage of Black cover photographers.
It wasn’t until 2018 that Vogue hired a black photographer to photograph the cover, after Beyonce hand-picked him to photograph her for the September issue.
Tyler Mithcell was the first black photographer to photograph a cover in 125 years.
“You know, we should be making covers of Vogue from month to month, not just as a first,” he said NPR at that moment.
‘[Photography] was known as the art of a rich man, so it was especially for white men who could afford all the chemicals, films and cameras that went in at a very early stage, ”he continued.
Another: Rolling Stone went 51 years before hiring a black photographer for a cover, and Dana Scruggs chose to photograph Travis Scott for the January 2019 issue
Her words: Scruggs said the honor was “sweet and bittersweet.”
“It’s a historical fact that addresses why there simply aren’t as many black fashion photographers as white fashion photographers. But the part I can’t answer is why they haven’t been recognized … the great black photographers and black fashion photographers who photographed.
“The iPhone is the thing that opened everything. The great thing about now is that it is no longer someone who can afford the best camera, but it is what your eye says. ‘
Rolling Stone went 51 years before hiring a black photographer for a cover, choosing Dana Scruggs to photograph Travis Scott for the January 2019 issue.
Scruggs said the honor was “sweet and bittersweet.”
“I’m writing history here when I was about to give up shooting completely a year ago,” she said. “Never give up on yourself or your dreams. Ever.’