143 (I Love You)

An exploration of black love in all of its breadth.
Ishmil Waterman
Ishmil Waterman

143 (I Love You)

This February I was given the opportunity to be a part of a showcase at Union Station curated by Wan Lucas, an individual who i can only describe as a warrior in the movement for greater visibility of POC in all spaces. The 143 exhibit takes hold of February’s unique positioning. This month we have family day, Valentine’s day, black history month, and a solar transition into Pisces. In other words, it is a month to celebrate love, and in the case of this showcase, it was an opportunity to celebrate black love.

When asked to participate, I was given a very open guideline. (Capture what love looks like / feels like to you) Instantly there was only one thing that came to mind. My family. Not just the family i share blood relationships with, but the family I’ve inherited through friendship, romance, and community. Interestingly in all my years of shooting, this was the first time I coordinated for my loved ones to gather for a proper portrait session. I had no idea at the time that it would lead to an interview with City TV’s Breakfast Television! The experience had a wondrous effect on me. As a photographer, it is a part of my job to connect with my subject, to use the gates of empathy to gauge what they are feeling and maneuver those feelings to get the perfect picture. This shoot, however, was different, my connection with each subject was already deep, so the gate of empathy was broader, the understanding was far more profound. Frankly, it changed the way I shoot, this experience has made me seek a deeper connection with all of my subjects.

Going into this project I had every intention of creating images that would serve as the hero shots of the series. All of my experience in commercial photography assisted in the success of this intent. Creating images that are warm and speak to something genuine, while at the same time could do justice by the relative neutrality of a space like Union Station and the sponsor TD Bank. This is my first time being commissioned for a project that required such an approach, and I am very happy with the results and even happier that the subjects are people that I love. Moving forward I have every intention of leveraging this project to create more works in a similar lane. The opportunity to work with multiple major institutions is absolute goals. And if I get to put on for my peoples in the process, BONUS!  

You can find more images from the 143 (I Love You) showcase below. Other participating photographers in the showcase included. Yannick AntonNathalia Amillionminds AllenSoteeohWade HudsonBrianna RoyeGillian Mapp, and illustrations by Alexis Eke

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