I want people to see themselves in any moment I choose to reflect. I hope people continue drawing their own parallels between blackness and beauty and I hope my images support that. —Whitney MitchellPhoto: TwoMacks via Instagram Whitney like Houston. It's how Whitney Mitchell, visual marketing creative known as TwoMacks, introduces herself. And it's something that sticks with you. Just like her magnanimous personality that graces everyone with a smile and an actual hug. Based in New Orleans, Mitchell's pictures exude beauty in all shades with an emphasis on showcasing the natural excellence of black women. I sat down with her to find out the method to her magic.
As a late bloomer, finding myself as a creative in my older 20s, I wanted to start creating moments that would make me feel good about my liver splotched back, dark forehead and being a black woman in the south. — Whitney MitchellPhoto: TwoMacks via Instagram Blavity: What made you start taking pictures? Whitney Mitchell: When I became a transplant in New Orleans, I had no idea I was moving to a city that would tell me how black I was as if it were a bad thing. The unspoken lines and indications of how my beauty ranked pressed on me, even by those that mirrored my melanin. Mixed in with that, more than often, captures of those with the most alluring blemish-free midnight skin were often paired with what people tend to identify as destructiveness and sadness. I started seeing color, bodies and textures in different ways. Darkened elbows and the folds in neck creases would tell me years of effort and movement. Reds would tell me there was a warmth and love waiting, stuccoed textures would express the molehills we battle with for solution, I started seeing stories beyond faces. I wanted to give color on top of color and for structures to blend with skin. My friends were my muses. Trusting photos of them sans-makeup in some of the city’s best neighborhoods. That was the beginning, the beginning of TwoMacks as a whole. Photo: TwoMacks via Instagram B: What is your favorite thing about taking pictures/art? WM: The greatest joy in creating visual imagery is the ability to influence someone to pay attention. We’re moving so fast now. We obtain information and move on to new subjects or new gossip within 30 seconds. Somehow there’s been a shift in consumer culture and many people want to see the information they’ve spent the time to click on or scroll past with an image. People want that image to tell the story. We take the time to look deep in pictures, noting every detail. I appreciate that something as simple as an image could make someone stop, longer than they stop for other sources of information, and pay attention. Photo: TwoMacks via Instagram B: Who and what inspires you? WM: I’m inspired by choice and chance. Knowing that life can shift based on the way we move is the dopest thing ever. Knowing that decisions can lead to desired outcomes or clarity and resolve. Knowing that a series of yes/no answers could be the perfect combination leading to clear paths and guided achievements. I’m inspired by knowing I have the chance to reinvent my realities every day. And I’m even more inspired when those chance moments happen for people and shake up stagnant thoughts or actions. Photo: TwoMacks via Instagram B: You are very specific about using the term visual artist. What is the difference between a photographer and a visual artist? WM: I think now, with social media and accessibility of what was once high-dollar equipment, the perception of photography is that nice camera = amazing picture. As I was finding myself as a creative, I was never comfortable with limiting my reach with a definitive title. I went through so many combinations of words and singular nouns to find where I was supposed to fit. I enjoy how colors melt together in a painting, I swoon at any ability to feel texture through stills and I’m visually stimulated by minimalism and constructed angles. I knew with my appreciation and curiosity that I would try to produce these things by way of multiple visual avenues. I paint, I create with words and I create moments with stills, all for eyes to see and minds to feel. All photographers are visual artists. The term, for me, is a reminder of all the elements I want to pull into a moment. I hope that one day the realities of photo artistry are not limited to words or questions or nice cameras. Photo: TwoMacks via Instagram B: What is next on your plate? WM: I recently was selected to experience National Parks on an expedition with a group of super-talented social media influencers. Starting in Denver and traveling to the Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde National Parks, I’ll be documenting my experiences and engaging in powerful conversations around community connections to the domestic treasures we have in the states. When I head back to New Orleans, I’ll be focusing my energies on blogging and connecting my Instagram following to more of my voice. Want more of TwoMacks? Catch Whitney's work anytime, anywhere: Instagram: twomacks Twitter: thetwomacks Blog: www.thetwomacks.com Snapchat: Twomacks Follow Whitney's National Parks adventure with #FYPx or #FindYourParks