Young Va. Photographer Captures the Beauty of Brown Ballerinas

by: Nadine Matthews Special to the AFRO
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Keara Wilson is the owner of Kreative Mindset Photography. (Courtesy photo)

Twenty year-old photographer Keara Wilson uses photography as a voice to show underrepresented Black ballerinas.

According to Wilson, research for a high school project at Booker T. Washington in Norfolk, Va., where she was born and raised,  got her focused on photographing ballerinas of color. “I saw how African Americans weren’t allowed to be ballerinas because of our body structure. When I read that it bothered me so I decided to dedicate a project to African-American ballerinas. I decided to give brown ballerinas a spotlight,” she said.

She turned her interest into a business.

Wilson is the owner of Kreative Mindset Photography, which she started approximately six years ago.

She said she considers Gordon Parks, the first Black photographer for {Life} and {Vogue} magazines, as her role model. “I remember they had an exhibition of his photography and my parents took me and my brother and I was just amazed how he told stories through his lens. I don’t consider myself a photojournalist like he was even though he did a variety of stuff but I do admire his work.”

Wilson is now a junior at Corcoran School of Art and Design at George Washington University in Washington D.C., she said she vividly remembers when she made the decision to turn to photography to sublimate her feelings of rejection.

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Red tutu: A photograph taken by Keara Wilson of a Black ballerina. (Courtesy photo)

“What got me into photography was the fact that I was bullied,” she said. “There was minor bullying in elementary school. Someone would take something that was mine. In middle school females didn’t like me, wrote a ‘burn book’ about me; same thing in high school. People didn’t consider me the prettiest girl. Guys could be really cruel. I don’t have the smallest nose so I got called pig nose, you know things like that. Photography was my outlet.” Wilson said she got her first camera as Christmas gift in middle school.

Wilson’s work has already gained widespread attention and recognition. Her work has garnered accolades such as being featured on browngirlsdoballet.com, and being selected as the winning piece in the 2016 Art Pop billboard contest that was organized by organization’s Founder and Executive Director Wendy Hickey and the City of Norfolk.

“I started my business when I was young,” she said. “Trying to transition to a businesswoman is hard because people sometimes can’t get out of their minds that I am not this young photographer anymore playing with the camera and snapping pictures. I am a businesswoman now.”

The only other challenge Wilson said she sometimes encounters is one familiar to many Black business people. “We need people to take us more seriously and to place a higher value on African-American owned businesses,” she said.

Wilson is scheduled to speak at career day at Chesterfield Academy, her old elementary school, towards the end of March.

“I would love for young women to look up to me,” she said. “I’m not perfect but if I can inspire one person that would be amazing.”

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