I'm grateful to have my image of Devon included in the Girl Gaze book (out now) alongside such beautiful work with great meaning and substance. When I made this portrait, I didn't know what was going in Devon's life. We had met just a few minutes earlier and I was struck by his kindness and warmth. It wasn't until some time had passed that he shared with me what he was experiencing then and how it came through in his photo. In Devon's words:
"This picture was taken at a time in my life where everything was going wrong and I couldn't see it getting better anytime soon. I lost a lot of weight, I was depressed, and I was recovering from plastic surgery I had on my face from a car accident. I was living in a city where I had no family, no real friends, and was stuck in a failing relationship. I was booking a lot of modeling jobs, but my checks would never come on time, they were less than what I was supposed to get, or they just didn't come at all. There was one photo shoot that I did that I was really excited about; I had a huge billboard in West Hollywood on Melrose for this photographer's studio. I told my mom about it and that I was all settled into my new place in West Hollywood. She was taking a trip to Las Vegas and wanted to stop by to see me on her way there. A few days before she came to visit me I found out that my billboard was taken down because a new store was opening and they needed to put their signage up. There was also something that went wrong in my apartment so I had to throw out all of my furniture and most of my things away. My eyes were also affected somehow by my surgery; they were dry, extremely itchy, and blood shot red. I told my mom that I was doing fine in the new city that I moved to, but that was far from the truth and this picture is a visual representation of how my life was going. I had nothing. I felt empty, broken, and defeated. The only thing I looked forward to was seeing my mom, but I did not want her to see me in this condition."
I want to thank Devon Walker for being so open and trusting me. Thank you to the Girl Gaze Project, Amanda de Cadenet, Lynsey Addario, Inez van Lamsweerde, and Sam Taylor Johnson for the opportunity and everything that you do for the creative community. Do yourself a favor and purchase this beautiful book by Rizzoli on Amazon!
*Cover photo by Amber Zeekaf with book design by Su Barber.