Louise Sam is a 'Western Medical Herbalist turned photographer. In her quest to explore the relationship between concepts of beauty and the human body leads her to launch the Nubian Photography. The human body which is specifically the Black woman's body is what she is to discover.In this time, launching the Nubian photography, she finds that the 'Nude Black Woman's body holds a strong historic significance. That negative stereotype of the 'Black Woman's Body' are still present in this modern day is something that eludes her.
Having been a nature photographer (her original passion) and moving into sports photography, Louise have had the opportunity to travel around and across England and Asia taking epic images for Muay Thai boxers and camps in London and Thailand.
Louise chats with MY Black Woman on the relevance of her launching the Nubian photography, the meaning of beauty and all that you need to understand about the 'Black woman's Body and beauty.
How does your medical experience influence your understanding of beauty and how do you translate this knowledge into creating beautiful images?
My experience as a herbalist has given me the opportunity to better understand how the systems of the body interact, but also how the body interacts with our environment, with other people, with the things that we ingest and absorb into our bodies etc. Beauty therefore surpasses our physical form and like creating images, it requires constant work and discovery.
How long have you been a photographer?
I have always had a great appreciation for photography, as my father is an amazing photographer. However, I took up photography on a more professional level about eight years ago.
What truly inspires you?
Although we tend to moan about it, the weather in Britain is quite inspirational. In places like the Caribbean we do not get to see such extreme changes in the seasons. In Britain the way in which the same landscape can look so different throughout the year is incredible. The movement of spring and the colours of autumn are some of the most beautiful sights that I have ever seen.
Is this your first exhibition?
It is the first time that I am exhibiting a collection of my images. It’s quite exciting.
How does sports, nature and photography define who you are?
I think it goes back to the way in which all of these things interact that enables me to keep exploring myself, the world and the people around me.
Why did you choose to launch nude photography?
A big part of the inspiration for the Nubian Nude shoot is to begin to identify our definitions of beauty as women of African descent. When I began to look into the topic I was finding that there have been and there continues to be many taboos about the nude Black woman. In some cases she was associated with sexual exploitation, promiscuity and often ridiculed.
How far has the stereotype against the black woman affected her personality, self esteem and development?
The aim of my work now is to explore how these past experiences influence us in the age of the video vixen. From speaking with some women in the community it is evident that we have issues with accepting and understanding our bodies which has detrimental effects on our self-esteem and the relationships that we form with others.
What significance is it for you to express the Black woman’s beauty through nude photography
Being photographed nude is a very powerful experience because there are no shields or disguises. It captures our insecurities but it enables us to chart our development and growth as we work towards understanding and challenging those insecurities.
How do you define beauty and who is an ideal woman?
I would say beauty is a constant discovery and exploration. It is forever changing but at the same time grounded. An ideal woman would therefore be someone who is willing to learn and evolve.
What’s the best thing that has happened to you as a photographer?
The best things are probably being able to take images for family or friends when they have organised events and being able to give them a memento of their efforts.
What advice would you give to the Black woman regarding herself, beauty and the stereotype?
It is important to constantly challenge our ideals and definitions of beauty. We always need to question whether these definitions are our own or taken from other cultures or ethnicities. We need to speak with other Black women around and be open to new ideas.
The Nubian beauty photography exhibition will be held on the 25th of January 2013. Louise is on twitter: @LouiseSSam.